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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.


How Much is Too Much?


I think all the time about how training horses is less about what we do than it is about when we do it. It is less about the actions we take than it is about the emotion we feel while we take them. It is the intangible pieces that make horse training challenging to teach.


I like the tangible, I like the understandable, I like the logical, I like the teachable. I refuse to give in to the classic natural horsemanship jargon that gets thrown around of “your energy needs to be right” whatever that means. Or, “it’s all in the intention; when you have the right intention, the horse will be with you”. How am I supposed to know what the right intention is?


Those two statements, and many like them, are absolutely true; and also I believe, very challenging to learn from.


I want to create physical step by step processes that we can walk through that let us experience what it feels like, on a personal level, to have the “right energy” or know what the “right intention” might be.


I think Myrnah has had the greatest impact on my learning, helping me through processes that allowed me to feel those “right feelings”.


Horses don’t have words, horses have movements; so we need to move with them to have a conversation. They will tell us when it is right and when it is less right; what they won’t tell us is what to do until we find those perfect moments.


The project with Myrnah was about finding out some of the things I could do on the way to better partnership.


There is a book in the works that will spell it out in a more linear fashion, and an online course I will teach starting this fall where we can walk together through bonding with our horses, and another movie plan on the horizon.


For now, enjoy the blog and the pieces of inspiration these ideas might light up in you. The movie “Taming Wild” will also be for sale shortly on the website


Today I want to talk about how much is too much. We think so much about what to do, we often forget how important it is to not do anything. We are determined communicators as humans, either with others, or lost in our own thoughts with ourselves. There is an art to being with someone else in quiet. There is an art to being mindful of when to talk and when to listen, and when to simply exist.


Here is how we know what to do when, and when to be quiet.


Check in with the emotional intensity and ask yourself, is this level of feeling, useful in this situation?


Is the thing you are doing right now causing the intensity of feeling?


If it is too much, break it down so you take a little action, and then take some time to just be. Then take a little action and then take some time to just be… and so on.


Once the feeling is of an appropriate intensity for the situation then we can do the action for longer and longer periods of time. As we come into this phase of training we look for the moments when it feels better and take some time to just BE on that mark.


In partnership with a horse, BEING together is being matched in movement or energy.


Here is where I see the common mistake: We like communicating and often are challenged by the neutral BEING time with our horses, so it is tempting to ask for things all the time.


We need to realize when too much is too much.


Can we be happy being with our horses? Or are they never quite good enough?


Ask for something, and then take time to enjoy it with them.


Or, if you didn’t get what you asked for, retreat a little and ask again.


If it is clear you are not going to get what you asked for without emotional upheaval, then ask for something more reasonable so you can enjoy what you and your horse CAN do together.


Here is where I come back to my original points:


It isn’t so much what you ask for as when you ask. Did you take some time to enjoy being with your horse exactly as they are first?


There are only six directions a horse can move – forward, backward, left, right, up and down. What you ask for can be any one of the six, it doesn’t matter, however, it does matter a great deal when you ask and when you are quiet.


It is less about the actions we take than it is about the emotion at play while we take them. If emotions are running too hot in either you or your horse, it is too much too soon. Break it down. If it feels great to both of you, you can do anything.


Hooves and Heartbeats,

Elsa Sinclair


  1. brilliant 🙂 simple and difficult in the same time 🙂

  2. by th way, lov the photos in your blog 🙂 mastership 🙂

  3. This brings to mind a quote from Ray Hunt, “first you go with them, then they go with you, then you go together”.

  4. So lovely and so true. Thank you very much for sharing your experience. Love, Connie

  5. This is such a timely post. I trim my own horses hooves and most of them are very helpful and co-operative, sometimes even lifting the appropriate leg before I have even reached for it. However, there is one horse , a draft horse, who has always had difficulty standing on three legs, often losing his balance when he was just a youngster. Over time, although his balance has improved he has become more and more determined in his avoidance of having to do it. It’s very tricky to trim a horse’s hooves when they are a moving target! Foolishly I began to take this personally as if he was just deliberately making life difficult for me (how the ego loves defining itself by looking for ways to be offended!) and so of course emotional upheaval quickly followed and the outcome was self-fulfilling ….. he became even less co-operative.

    I haven’t resolved it yet but reading your post has crystallized the issue for me and I am going to retreat a little from being so task-orientated and make a much bigger effort at connecting with him first – not just prior to hoof-trimming but in on-going basis to establish a closer bond. He is a lovely horse and I am sure the “problem” is as much my energy and intention as I approach what has now become a somewhat dreaded task. Inevitably I am going to be subconsciously transmitting that feeling of dread to him as I try to work on his hooves.

    So thank you Elsa for a timely intervention with your excellent post. Your aim, “I want to create physical step by step processes that we can walk through that let us experience what it feels like, on a personal level, to have the “right energy” or know what the “right intention” might be.” sounds like music to my ears. Though I try very earnestly to “be in the moment” and respond to what the horse is presenting right then, I have to be honest and admit that I tend to be somewhat linear in my thinking and I do need a framework of some sort to work within. Perhaps your step by step process that you are aiming to develop may help? As always I remain ever optimistic of finding my “key” to a closer connection with horses. Your perceptive and thoughtful approach to horse training is wonderful and very helpful in my own search, so please keep on doing what you are doing!

    Kindest regards

  6. Beautiful post Elsa, spot on and very interesting food for thought. A post to meditate on :-)…

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