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The Project:

Horses from many walks of life, 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. 


“First you go with the horse”

I have so much respect for this quote from Tom Dorrance;

“First you go with the horse. Then the horse goes with you. Then you go together.”

I am not sure he ever meant the first part to be taken to the extreme I do, but I would like to imagine he would be intrigued if he were here looking over my shoulder.









I chose Atlas to join me for this project because he had a reputation for being a dangerous aggressive horse, and I wanted to learn something about that. The interesting thing is, almost none of that aggression has shown up in our almost 75 hours of training we have done in the last four weeks. I fully believe if I do my job right, we never need to trigger those past habits of aggression. Instead we will perpetually strengthen habits of conscientious communication, until Atlas has no need to use aggression with humans any more.

When I read his body language and hear him tell me about his discomfort and then respond appropriately, then he does not need to yell at me about it with aggression. If you look at his ears, you can clearly see the distances Atlas is comfortable with here and the distance he is learning to tolerate.





If I barged in any closer, he might feel forced to explain to me more clearly how he felt about it at this stage of our relationship. So I listen carefully and respond appropriately now, setting an example for Atlas of how he might do that for me later in our relationship.

In order to build the communication between us I have two different kinds of leadership I am using and a counter balance of flow and harmony.

During meal times and rest times we often practice going between:

1. Supportive leadership (using more movement or intensity around the horse to cause the horse to feel better).


2. Passive leadership (the art of moving to different physical position in relation to the horse at the best possible time).


3. Flow (The harmony and ease of BEING together). 





Just like all of us, horses sometimes get stuck in patterns of thought that make them feel grumpy or irritated, or downright angry.




With a little supportive leadership used at an appropriate distance it feels good to help Atlas find his inner zen again. The more we practice together the more I start to see hints of Atlas’ curious investigative side emerge. Sometimes so much that he gets himself in trouble a bit.







It makes me smile to see him feel brave enough FINALLY to test his environment ever so gently.

If you are curious to know more about HOW all of this communication is building between Atlas and me, and WHY I believe we can strengthen his new ways of thinking so they completely eclipse his old patterns of being aggressive, please join us on for videos and more questions, answers and discussions. It is fascinating work and I love sharing it with you all!

Hooves and Heartbeats,



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