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Meditations on Equestrian Art

Instructions for living a life. Pay attention. Be astonished. Tell about it. ~Mary Oliver


The Project:

One Mustang directly off the range, One Trainer, Many Students, Communication through body language, Tools used only for safety, never to train


The Goal:  To discover how far Equestrian Art can be developed solely using body language.


And it begins again….. Perhaps it never ended, only paused for a brief moment. Life is like that, with horses and everything else.

Our pause, on the blog here, has not been completely still; it has in fact been quietly moving. Myrnah and I have been working, in slow evolution along with Cleo and Saavedra and Zohari and so many others. One small tendril at a time reaching out to embrace another student, dusty arenas and grassy pastures holding us as we delve a little deeper- deeper into what it is to walk with a horse, shoulder-to-shoulder feeling that bond of choice and understanding with another being while delving into one’s self.


I often find myself asking why? Why do I do THIS work with horses? The practice we walk here seems sometimes too permissive, too allowing of behaviors that other training practices would cut short. Yet, being here with the horse, allowing her to be authentic and true to herself is the most healing work I have ever done. Yes, healing for me. The development of the horse though this training, while profound, has always been secondary to the peace is brings ME, time and again.

There are the physical aspects of this work: the breakdown of how to walk through the practice, the introduction of the ideas to new students, the organization of film footage, and the launching of the Kickstarter this week. The documentary is finally in it’s homestretch! Please take a look, help me spread the word, and help us fund the completion of the film with the fullness it deserves.

Then, there is the personal side of this story: the heart and soul of this project that reaches deep into who we are as people, who we are as horses, who we are together, and the longing that gave birth to this project.

The title of this blog is not used lightly. I usually play my cards close to my chest in this part of the story, sharing only the parts of myself that might be publicly digestible and acceptable. Today I am going to take some advice from Brene Brown; “When we deny our stories, they define us. When we own our stories, we get to write a brave new ending.” Myrnah, and this project, Meditation on Equestrian Art: this has been me writing a new ending for myself.

“A semicolon is used when an author could’ve chosen to end their sentence, but chose not to. The author is you and the sentence is your life.”

lookWhen I was sixteen I was diagnosed with bipolar disorder. There is a shame that comes with emotions one can’t control, and that shame leads quickly to a double life. The person we want to be, the one who is lovable and can engage with the world, all charm and beauty intact, then, there is the other person- battered by inexplicable grief. Emotion so deep with an undertow so strong, all rational thought is lost for a time.

As a society, we live for emotion, every movie and novel is a chance to live vicariously though someone else’s emotional experience. These are packaged nicely, with a beginning, middle and end, with a rise and fall of intensity, and with the comfort of being able to know it was just a story, and one can step neatly out of it, back into a rational experience at any time. For a person with a depressive disorder, there is no stepping out of the story. The emotion becomes the only thing that exists.

You might be surprised how many of us walk beside you, work beside you, are your best friends, lovers, children, and you have no idea the internal war that is waged, day in and day out.

Our shame is a powerful thing as we battle to stay in control of emotions we can’t be in control of. Often each battle we win, only makes us feel closer to losing the war. We never own up to how often we stand on the edge of a bridge, wondering, Is this the moment I jump? Or drive our cars wondering how fast we would need to go, and what solid thing we would need to hit to end the pain.

To admit those things would be to hurt the ones we love, and this isn’t about hurting our loved ones, this is about surviving ourselves.

I consider myself to be high functioning. I love my job, I love the understanding I bring to people and horses. It means the world to me that I bring this light to others. On the flip side, it is my family who has often paid the price as I sort through how to survive being me.

I am loved and I love deeply…. And yet still, when a spouse or a lover comes around the corner in the kitchen to find me curled in a corner, knees pressed to my chest, rocking back and forth as I quietly sob out a sadness that seems to have no origin, it takes a toll on them. And when it repeats too often…. and intrudes in too many ways, in too many places, I find myself trying even harder to separate into two people- one public and one buried.

We all long for a happily ever after, but this disease often doesn’t end well. Three out of five people diagnosed with bipolar disorder end in suicide. There is no known cure for this, only an array of drugs to dampen the intensity with the hope that that is enough to get us through each episode.

I have always chosen to live without drugs- to feel every moment of each high and each low, because I want to experience the fullness of every moment of life I get to live, or am able to survive. Perhaps I am just one of the lucky ones who can survive this course without drugs. I think, though, it’s the horses.Kiss

The horses have always been there for me. They have been strong for me when I was weak, and fast for me when I was slow, and my stabile when the world rocked under my feet.

When all I can feel is soul searing grief that rips me to shreds, the horses, they lean in, their shoulder against mine, their weight and warmth there for me to lean on until this passes, because it always does. In the wake of such grief, there is a clarity that comes to be and an awareness of how poignantly beautiful life really is.

Myrnah and I may have embarked on a revolutionary training process, clarity and purpose brought to life; and it may have been successful beyond what I had ever imagined. Yet, beyond that physical process, this story is also very personal. This journey is about healing and heartache, authenticity and rewriting the end of my story, one hoofbeat at a time.

It’s not over yet. The best is yet to come.

Elsa Sinclair



  1. Dear Elsa,

    I couldn’t even begin to write it down as beautifully as you did, but I do SO resonate with all you wrote… Thank you for being so open about ‘being YOU’, with all your ins and outs and ups and downs. Having the courage to be vulnerable is what makes us all feel connected to one another.
    I have never been diagnosed with bipolar disorder or anything similar (and I’m not looking for it either), but I have experienced enough trouble in my personal and working life to know that I am sensitive far above average and not able to function properly in the ‘normal world’ (whatever that may be ;-)). And for me too, nature and animals are always my saviour in difficult times. They give me the peace to just BE, and to feel that being me is enough.
    I’m going to check out your Kickstarter page now, so glad to know that the ‘project is still rolling’ :-)!
    So good to hear from you again!

    Love, Marja

    • Marja,
      Your ongoing encouragement in this project is something I have valued so greatly. Thank you!!!!! We are really all more connected than we know, and that is a beautiful thing.

  2. Thanks for this! It is a lonely life living with bipolar disorder! You just made it less lonely! Dawn >

    • Dawn,
      It can be for sure. Every bit we can do to make it less lonely feels like a good thing! Thank you for your support!

  3. Dear Elsa,

    I have been meaning to come up and check out your work for a while. Now I want to rent a bus and bring all my friends. Count me in on the Kickstarter. Coincidentally (or not:) I earned a concert to be given at the place of my choosing when I supported Portland artist Coco Columbia’s successfully funded Kickstarter:
    It would be a road trip, but my guess is that she would be game to bring her band up north to do a fundraiser in your barn or some such thing. Please contact me to discuss this and/or other ways I can be supportive.

    I really want to see this documentary!

    Laura Blue

    • Laura!

      You are amazing in your offers of support! I honestly am not sure I could gather enough people in one place for something like a fundraiser. My friends seem to be spread out around the globe. I love the idea though!
      Thank you!!!!!

  4. Dearest Elsa!

    I, as well as so many others, are ecstatic this is going to happen! It is such a gift to us AND to people and horses all over the world! You are such a Healing Giver and I am blessed to know you. And my horses as well!
    Of course you have a pledge from me. And I have already begun by spreading the word. Perhaps I and a few others can sponsor a talk/showing here on Orcas?
    Thanks for all you do for us on behalf of horses! I am very grateful!
    Love you much!

    • Maggie!

      Yes! I would love to do talk/showing on Orcas! You all are my home and my origins. I am so grateful to be bringing this out to the bigger world, but I am also forever grateful to my island home and my island people for giving me the amazing basis I have to work from. Thank you for spreading the word! Thank you for all your years of belief and support. You are a huge part of my strength moving this forward. Thankyou!!!!!!

  5. I am so happy you are back on line with the blog. Thank you for sharing your personal story here, I can so relate to that grief that comes and leaves you a sobbing in the corner, and who better than the horse to support that in us. They have been there for me in those moments, not talk just big warm presences , sometimes that all it takes. I so want to learn more about your way with thee wonderful horses, I wish you were closer, but I’m glad the documentary is being made. I’m spreading the word!
    Love, Ritambhara

    • Thank You Ritambhara!
      I miss being close enough to see you more often. You are such a light, always encouraging me on. This movie is coming together and I couldn’t have done it without encouragement like yours!

  6. Dear Elsa,

    As with all who have commented so far I am so pleased you are back and with such wonderful news! Your blog came into my life a few years ago at just the right time and all the time I was reading it I was thinking “This should be made into a book or better still a film.” I had no idea that was your long term goal anyway and that you’d had the foresight to film everything – brilliant! I so wanted to apply what you were doing with Myrnha in my relationship with my own horse. I read and re-read your blog and studied the photographs endlessly but without moving images to see how Myrnha reacted and therefore how you responded in turn (and without your extensive background and experience in working with horses) I did not have the confidence to truly set about it in earnest. So I am so glad this documentary is being made and I am sure it WILL be made. I will do all I can to spread the word.

    I was moved by your account of the effects of your bi-polar disorder and although I do not have the condition I, like so many other people, recognize instantly the paralyzing effect of depressive thoughts which seem to arise as if from nowhere. In my own life the greatest help in tackling this that I have ever received is from the teachings of Eckhart Tolle, the author of “The Power of Now”. Its’ relevance to living “in the moment” free from the effects of ego is so relevant to working with horses and I can see that so clearly in what you do with horses. You are sharing with us, your readers, wonderful insights. In return and on the off-chance that you have not come across Eckhart Tolle I am sharing this with you in the hope that it may help you in your darker moments. Thank you Elsa for sharing your life with horses with us and I hope through this documentary that your inspiration is spread far and wide through the equine world. Well done you – WELL DONE!

    Namaste, Gary

    • Thank you Gary!
      Eckhart Tolle has indeed been a great source for so many, I agree! I’m glad this project is finally developing to a place you will be able to get more answers from me. The ideas are very simple, and very usable. I’m sorry they have seemed to be shrouded in mystery so far. I will be doing my best to move out of that phase and into the next phase of creating information you can really use with your horses now. Thank you for supporting the movie and sharing it with others. I am so grateful for my community helping me to make this all happen!

  7. It’s sooo good to see you back and that your project is still running. I will support and share for sure. I’m positive your dreams will come to fruition! <3

    • Warm regards, Francine

    • Thank you! These dreams seem to be helping so many. I am so glad I get to be a part of this evolution of understanding with horses!

  8. Your courage, your tenacity and the essence of you is a gift to us all, people and horses. Thank you for opening a door for so many. Big love.

    • Thank you! I feel blessed to have this amazing community of like minded people!

  9. I’m reading this nearly three weeks late, but I can’t read without responding. I know you from way back and I think I can say that even in childhood I recognized that you had more capacity for feeling and for living into the fullness of human experience than most of us. I don’t see you as having two different selves as much as one self with an extraordinary range. I would never wish to sweep aside the realities of what that means for you and yours on the painful end of the spectrum, but I would wish you to know how much your friends admire your honesty and self-knowledge as well as your beautiful capacity for wonder, delight, curiosity and grace. Love always from me, wherever you are, whatever you’re feeling, and however long it’s been.

    • Sarah!
      Thank you from the depths of my heart! The way you see me is very much the way I would like to see myself… not always easy, but it is wonderful knowing the people who love me see me that way! I am sending so much love to you and yours! ~Elsa

  10. WOW. Love/💕Sofia

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