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Tag Archives: drive

The Project:

Mustangs 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.



This is a big and beautiful world we live in and there are so many paths to choose from as we meander or race our way through it. The questions are, what are we running from? Or what are we running to? Or are we just living the current moment?


What might be important along the way?


Horses and humans teamed up throughout history as travel partners, sometimes running towards something and sometimes running away from something; but regardless of the motivation, we discovered it was better to have a partner shoulder to shoulder with us as we went.


Over time we discover that some partners are easier to travel with than others and we start to distill the details down to discover what makes for an easier companion? What makes for a better travel experience, and how do we achieve that with different horses, or help others achieve that with their partner.


Each horse trainer has their own theories about what the key points are and over the years I have come up with a few ideas of my own as well. When I stumble upon an idea that seems to improve life for me and my equine partners, I share it with a few intrepid students. If I see theses ideas are indeed helpful, then they make it onto the blog and create a post like this.


Because I teach Freedom Based Training®, Freedom is always the idea that comes up first. Can we be free and also be partners? How would we do that? What does it look like to build a partnership between two free beings?

The second idea that comes up is Safety. How do we develop a feeling of Safety with partners who are free to make their own decisions? What does that look like?


It is only after we have tackled the ideas of Freedom and Safety that I am interested in delving deeper into what makes all this better, and for that we move onto the idea of Focus.


All of us, horses and humans alike, get better at what we pay attention to.


In this world of training horses what that idea has boiled down to is teaching horses to hold focus without wavering. Sometimes it is focus on the leader we want, so the horse understands what the leader is asking. Sometimes it is the obstacle in front of us that we want the horse to focus on, whether it is the jump or the raging river we are about to cross.


Regardless of where we want the focus to hold and what we want the horse and human to get better at together, I want to ask the pertinent question: Why is holding focus difficult to achieve with horses? Why do they fight us on holding a focus where we would like them to hold it?


I think that circles back to the first two ideas, Freedom and Safety.


All of us need to feel safe. All of us have some baseline of how much safety we are entitled to and how much we are willing to fight for that security in life. Only after a horse feels reasonably safe will it choose to do anything a partner asks.


We all, horses and humans alike, only give up our Freedom to the degree we feel we gain safety in return.

When we build a partnership with another being, it is this balance of freedom and safety that is always in flux. In Freedom Based Training® I aim to build as much of both as I possibly can – Freedom and Safety together!


Let’s talk more about focus.


While the end goal might be to hold the focus on one specific thing we want to get better at, what are the steps that might help us do this in a way that builds more and more trust between horse and human along the way?


I think it breaks down into five stages of learning.

  1. Change of Focus
  2. Using Drive to change focus
  3. Clearer focus changes
  4. Using Draw to change focus
  5. Holding focus


  1. Change of Focus

In the beginning of a relationship the horse still feels they are responsible for their own safety and they have not built enough trust to hand that job over to the human. Every time the horse notices a different thing (they change focus), they assess their relative safety. The wind in the tree, the dog moving across the yard, the bird that just flew by, the truck backfiring in the distance. All these things matter to a horse and in the beginning they are not going to be willing to give up any of their focus changes because their assessment is important to their future safety and comfort. I believe we honor this stage of the relationship in two ways. The first is to show them we are paying attention also! If we can change focus more often than the horse does, we are clearly keeping tabs on everything around us even better than the horse is. The second way is to acknowledge and appreciate each focus change the horse makes. This conversation of movements is key in building a horse’s trust. I find, the more consistent, rhythmic and diverse a horse’s focus changes are, the less likely they are to be afraid of anything. They have seen for themselves there is nothing to be afraid of. This is the first building block for a good relationship.

  1. Using drive to change focus

As we work through the first step of the process where we appreciate and reinforce a horse’s development of consistent, rhythmic and diverse focus changes, we will notice every horse has strengths and weaknesses in where they choose to focus. This is where we start the second step of the process by using drive. Drive is the use of pressure to move one thing away from another. I can “drive” the horse in a movement away from me, or I can “drive” myself in a movement away from the horse. To “drive” is to create some degree of distance for a moment. Hypothetically, if we have a horse whose strength is staring off over the horizon, then that is the thing they will choose to do more than anything else. If diversity of focus is the thing that brings confidence to a horse, each time this horse gets stuck staring over the horizon, I am going to introduce some drive until we get any other focus than the horizon; and then I am going to appreciate and reinforce the new focus. Changes are still the goal; the horse doesn’t need to hold focus where they are weak yet, only try it out when I ask them to. My job is to ask them to try a change, and then acknowledge and appreciate their effort. I find that focus changes lower stress in the horse, as long as they are not required to hold the focus longer than they would choose. As the horse learns to respond to my “drive” that helps them change their focus and incidentally will make them feel better, then the trust between us starts to grow.



  1. Clearer focus changes

In the beginning of this process, I am acknowledging and reinforcing every effort at focus change, awareness and mindfulness of the present from my horse. That means each flick of the ear, or wrinkle of the nose, or rotation of the eyeball in the socket is appreciated. By the time we get to the third stage the horse understands that focus changes make them feel better, but learning to be more aware with mindfulness and presence requires the building of new neural passageways in the brain. This building is a developmental process, and just like lifting weights development sometimes feels like work. When the horse is strong enough to make the small changes easily, we are going to start expecting the horse to try harder, rewarding only the bigger focus category changes. There are five categories we need to keep in mind:

  1. Self
  2. Herd
  3. Environment
  4. Leader
  5. Learning

As a student pointed out to me this week, the acronym would be SHELL and I think that is fitting, since awareness of all the categories does create a sort of shell of safety around the horse as it lends a moment of focus to each aspect of the horse’s life.




  1. Using Draw to change focus

This fourth stage is where focus work starts to get really fun for me as a horse trainer. Does my horse trust me enough to think my ideas are good ideas? Have I proven my decisions make my horse feel better enough times, that my horse is more interested in being a partner than they are in being free and independent? When I change focus, does my horse act in harmony with me? At this stage of the game I am expecting my horse to make choices that are either in harmony with me or complementary to me. If I look at the ENVIRONMENT, my horse does also – both of us in harmony. If I look at my horse and ask them to do something, that makes them my HERD focus, and my horse can be complementary in their focus by looking at me as the LEADER. Now… if they are not acting in a complementary or harmonious way with my focus changes, we know we have more work to do in the first three steps of the focus development stages.

  1. Holding focus

This is where most horse trainers start. When we ask a horse to hold focus, we are asking them to trust our assessment that nothing else is important. We are asking the horse to trust our leadership decisions so completely that they don’t need to question our judgment. That is a great deal of trust indeed. Given the right tools to train and prove leadership, some trainers and horses can indeed jump right to this fifth step and this holding focus together builds a beautiful bond. However, if you take away all the fences, all the halters and ropes and flags and sticks and food rewards, that is when you find you have to break down your building blocks to smaller steps and build it up one solid layer of trust at a time.


The work I do in Freedom Based Training® is not to negate any other forms of training; it is simply to ask these questions:


How would we build partnerships with horses if we took away all the physical tools?


If we can understand how training without tools is possible, can we use that knowledge to make our training and partnership building even better when we do use the right tools?


This January I am going to be asking those questions in the process of filming a second movie “Taming Wild: Pura Vida” 


In this second movie I will be teaming up with Andrea Wady who has run the business “Discovery Horse Tours” in Costa Rica for the last thirteen years and together we are going to rescue two horses who have been discarded by humans as worthless and train them towards a second chance at a meaningful life.


All of this training will be done in constant motion as we take an incredible trek across the country of Costa Rica from the west coast to the east coast.

Andrea and I will be using movement and leadership to build feelings of safety and comfort on our trek. We will be using whatever simple tools we need to keep everyone safe and putting to use all the knowledge we have to develop partnership along the way. I believe this movie will take the ideas that were pioneered in the first Taming Wild movie and put them in a framework that will be even more useful and inspiring to horse enthusiasts everywhere.


I am asking all of you to take just a moment and stop by our Kickstarter page and join our community around this movie. I will be working on a lot of different financial avenues to get this movie made. What I need from all of you is a showing of the number of people who are behind us.


Will you join us through “Taming Wild: Pura Vida” on this adventure of developing relationship between horses and humans?


Together I believe we can continue to inspire everyone to find their own personal adventures of beautiful partnership.

Here is to Freedom and Safety and Focus helping us all have better partnerships!


Elsa Sinclair


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.

Love it, or Change it


What I do with horses is Freedom Based Training.


We all, horses and people alike, instinctively reach for freedom. Freedom is our ability to be unique and individual and reach out to live a life that suits us.


Training is also part of every day life because training is simply the development of habits. I believe habits form regardless of intention, and, if we can be conscious, then we can form the habits that may serve us. That consciousness and deliberation in training can at times feel restrictive and binding, yet, in a roundabout way, isn’t that more free than the alternative of creating habits randomly that perhaps do not serve us?


We are free to create the lives we want over time within the framework that life offers us developing one small habit at a time.


Watch your thoughts for they become words,
watch your words for they become actions,
watch your actions for they become habits,
watch your habits for they become your character,
watch your character for it becomes your destiny.


Horses do not have words, they have movements – their movements become actions and actions become habits and habits become character and character becomes destiny.


I don’t know about you, but I want my horses to have the best destinies possible. I want them to feel their freedom and uniqueness of being and at the same time develop habits that serve them.


That is Freedom Based Training.


So we start with their thoughts… how do we know what a horse is thinking? We notice where they are looking.


I talked about this in a recent blog, Attention and Confidence


We know what it looks like when a horse is totally self-absorbed, ears relaxed and attention turned inward. As a skill, this is self-confidence.


We know what it looks like when a horse is interested in their leader, ears and eyes following every movement the leader makes. This skill is confidence in the leader.


We know what it looks like when a horse is watching the group, scanning from one individual to the next. This is confidence in the herd.


We know what it looks like when a horse is watching and wanting to focus on and investigate all the objects and environmental variations around him. This is confidence in the environment.


We all know what it looks like when a horse is trying different things to get comfortable, the head coming up and down a little, the body adjusting left and right, the figuring out where in time and space one needs to be to get this right. That is confidence in learning.


Thoughts become actions (looking at something is an action) and this is where training starts.


If we can aim to build good habits in the action of attention, all the other actions follow that.


Here is the key: while all of us are individuals and long to be uniquely and freely ourselves, we also crave connection. We all seek someone who wants to do the things we want to do, we all want partners, we all want harmony and easy association with others around us.


That feeling of ease between characters is dependent on the development of complementary habits.


I truly believe it is our nature to perpetually seek balance between our love of freedom and our love of connection.


Our intrinsic motivation to develop new habits or strengthen old ones (on the horse or human side of the equation) is based on one of those loves- freedom or connection… or can we have both?


It starts with Flow…. A harmony of being that sets the base line for this relationship. Most likely one of the partners in the relationship is going to have to voluntarily give up their freedom for a moment to match the other.


When I start with a horse I match them, I give up my wants and desires and just watch what they are watching and move how they are moving.


Then, in order for my personal freedom to come into play, I have to ask the horse to do something I want to do. I have a choice, I can move towards a draw or a drive.


A draw is a suggestion, an option offered. I walk away and invite the horse to come with me, they can choose to or not.


If they give up their freedom for a moment and follow me, we have flow again. We are building habits that support deeper connection between the two of us.


If they ignore me completely they are exercising their freedom, but they are not developing reciprocal habits of connection. The horse in this case is in essence offering connection just on the horse’s terms; stand here with me and we are a team, do anything else and you are on your own.


Here is the challenge. Freedom and Connection are usually equally important, and I cannot get MORE connection by offering you MORE freedom. I can only get MORE connection by offering MORE connection. (I can often get better connection by offering you better freedom, but that is a nuance to explore in another blog). Simply- we get good at what we practice. Our actions become our habits.


Here is where drive comes up as an option. I am going to do something that is a direct request. My horse is going to feel pressure that increases until they do something that connects us more, and then they feel the release back into flow and partnership.


A halter and a lead line are a form of drive. I may be drawing away, but if they don’t follow me they will feel pressure until they make an effort to connect and do the thing I want to do.


Positive reinforcement training, best known recently as clicker training is a lovely sort of drive. The pressure the horse feels knowing you have a cookie to eat and he has none is eased, if he gives up his freedom for a moment and follows you, so that the cookie may be shared. That is drive.


In a more subtle drive, if I stare directly at my horse with all my focus and intensity and don’t give up, eventually the horse will do something. If that something is something I like, connecting us together, I reward it with Flow. A matching action of me looking in the same direction my horse is looking will be a preferable feeling for the horse. Repeat that enough times and you have a habit.



We are changing our habits all the time, and we are reinforcing our habits all the time. We are, all of us, comfort-seeking missiles. Living in a world where we find comfort in two apparent opposites, connection and freedom, is a rich environment for learning and growth.


The greater variety of things my horse and I can do together the richer our life experience will be. The only way to grow our skills is through this dance of Flow, Drive and Draw.


We do what you love, then we do what I love, then we do what you love, then we do what I love… and then as habits become established, we find we love the same things… or we change again.


Love it or Change it, one small piece at a time.


Here is to Freedom and Connection. We really can have both, that is what Freedom Based Training is all about.


Elsa Sinclair


Ps. If you want to learn more about Freedom Based Training, there is an internet based course in the development process right now that will be offered starting in September 2016. If you want to work with Elsa and Myrnah directly in this online format, email for more information or to get on the list of participants. We will be keeping the participating groups small and the format adaptable to the uniqueness of each horse/human pair.

The Project:

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

IMG_1708 (1)

The Goal:

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

Far from Perfection

Since the movie came out and I have been working on the book, I am realizing a personal trend that needs some course correcting. The temptation to focus on the positive lures me, as though filling my mind with all that is good, can completely drown out the bad days, the hard moments, and the places where I get everything wrong. I want to set the story straight here, I am a very flawed as a human being!
Being flawed is part of what drives me to be better, and perhaps it is high time I wrote about that more of the time.

We all tend to think our less than stellar moments are something to be covered up and hidden, as if people won’t like us because we screwed up. That is true to a point; no one likes a friend who treats the world with negativity and does nothing to make things right. We all mess up, get it wrong, and then the important part is we do our best to make it right.

I have spent years working on and writing about the peaceful possibilities when working with horses. The building of relationship and the pieces it might take to have a relationship with a horse that is voluntary and cooperative. No force, no bribes, just a shared language where we find a harmony together, where we want to do the same things.

Let me assure you though, on the path of all these methods and patterns of working positively there are many many moments that are not so positive. In those not so positive moments I have to bow my head and consider, how do I make this right?

Perhaps I should admit that to my readers more of the time. It’s not all perfect at my barn.


Tonight, carrying a bucket of grain across the paddock for my skinny older warmblood, everyone crowded around me wanting some. It was raining and dark and I had had a long day and I thought, they SHOULD have more respect for my personal space! Before I had a chance to get out the gate with the bucket, someone jostled me and the bucket fell to the ground spilling all its contents. An anger filled me in that moment and before I knew what was happening I was yelling and waving my arms and throwing the bucket across the paddock. It was embarrassingly inappropriate, and, if my neighbors had been outside – unlikely in the rain and the dark –  I am sure I was a spectacle to behold.

The horses scattered a little ways away and watched me, remarkably undisturbed by my temper tantrum – was I going to relent and let them come over to clean the grain up from the ground? I was furious, irrational, and the tantrum continued, “ Everyone out!” With very little grace I chased them all into the far paddock and closed them off so I could clean up all the grain and throw it in the bushes; they would get none of it!!!

A new batch of grain retrieved from the barn, and safely placed in a separate space, I stormed out to the paddock and beckoned my warmblood with a twitch of a finger – yes, I am still furious and not taking to the others. My mustangs of course assumed I meant them and started sauntering over, and I threw another fit, -yelling, jumping up and down – “If I wanted your company, I would have looked at you and I didn’t!” (of course that is confusing, because now I am looking at them, and not in a good way.) “Go away! I am not talking to you!” It wasn’t pretty.

Zohari walked slowly over to me, head low, every movement cautious. I was still too mad to be appropriate, all my moments rough and too fast. I told him to come with me. He has known me for twenty years now and was surprisingly patient and gentle with me about my outburst.

Crying, I sat next to Zohari as he art his grain… I blew it again. All this work I do to have a peaceful existence with my horses and tonight I totally lose my cool. Where did I go wrong?

First it occurs to me, emotions happen. It has to be OK to feel angry or sad or happy or elated… However there is an appropriate space to be kept between our emotions and our actions.

Feeling things is the richness in life and I would never want any less emotion. However, I would like to set my life up so my emotions have space to exist without flooding into everyone else’s experience.


So on a night when it’s raining and dark and I am tired, perhaps I could plan ahead for the frustration I know might be a hair trigger away. I could have walked the long way around to the private paddock with the grain pan, instead of taking the short cut through the herd. I could have picked up a rope or a stick to make it clear I am not to be messed with tonight. I could have just taken a few extra minutes before I went and got the grain, to check in with each member of the herd and establish today’s relationships before I challenged them with temptation.

I am thinking about the lessons I taught to students this week. Perhaps if I had applied the same concepts to my herd at home, everything might have been different tonight.

This week has found me talking a great deal about drive and draw. You see, once we have some draw with our horses, where we can call them to us or walk together or stop or turn or back up TOGETHER, it feels so good we tend to do less and less of the drive that created the draw in the first place.


I walk people through 5 steps with their horses:
First- we follow the horse.
Second- the horse follows us.
Third- the horse touches us.
Fourth- we touch the horse.
Fifth- we mix and interchange the first four steps.

That first step is the most important, and tends to get forgotten as we develop farther into our relationships. You see, if the horse won’t let us follow, we have to use a little bit of drive to motivate some motion for us to follow.

With people I see it all the time; we like the draw so much we drop the drive as soon as possible. I am as guilty of this as anyone else. I would much rather draw the horse to me and do things with them, than push them away and follow. The yin and the yang balance each other though; we need the drive and the follow to balance the draw and be followed.

Here is something I read that might cause us all to think a little: “True leaders don’t create followers, they create more leaders”.

I tell people that true leaders are simply the last one of the group to make a decision. True leaders hand leadership over to the others all the time; however, they always have the last word. By making the last decision before a time of harmony or rest, a true leader gets associated with all things good, and chosen as the leader time and again. True leaders also know how to use some drive to ask someone else to lead for a while.

If I had taken a little more time to practice this with my herd this week, perhaps things would have been different when I asked for space around carrying the grain pan through the paddock. Perhaps I need to practice what I preach and spend more time asking horses to do things for me to follow, instead of always having them follow me.

I did my best to end my evening right. Each horse got a little time in the private paddock with me, and each one got a bite of something yummy – I do share after all – and then I sat in the hay while they all gathered around me nibbling away.

I promised them all I would try to do better at knowing when my emotions are close to boiling over and act in ways that would safeguard our relationship better than I had tonight. I also know, that just isn’t possible all the time, so, I will pour my heart into continuing to develop our bond in ways that give them a sense of safety, even when I fall apart and make a mistake or two.


Here is to owning our mistakes, our bad days, and times when emotions get hot.
Here is to making amends.

Elsa Sinclair

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.


Be Defined By What You Love

When I started this project with Myrnah it was an abstract idea, a simple question of, is this thing possible?


When we take away the round pens and ropes and halters and bridles, bribes and obvious incentives, what is left?


It wasn’t long before I realized this project was much bigger and broadly reaching than I had anticipated. I had thought it would be just a year of experimental training with a horse, an interesting period of time that would come and go as a chapter of my life. Instead I found it reached into me and changed who I was.


Myrnah taught me more about horses and life in one year than I think I have learned in all my previous years combined.


Now I do need to take a moment and thank all the trainers who poured themselves into me for all the years prior to Myrnah. Without you I would never have had the basis of understanding to even begin this experimental type of training. Thank-you from the depths of my soul for preparing me as well as you did. If you are reading this, you know who you are. Believe me, I remember each and every one of you with profound gratitude!


Throughout the process with Myrnah _E0A2131I have found I have needed to draw on both horse-training principles developed over centuries, and ALSO principles of human development.


With animal training throughout history the motivation factors have been extrinsic. Do this to get that, or do this to avoid that. There isn’t much developed in terms of training using intrinsic motivation factors. Do this just because it feels good. So when it came to searching for ways to develop intrinsic motivation, I had to dig into human-development theory and see if we could apply it to horses. Hang on though, I am getting ahead of myself; next week we will dig deeper into the ideas of intrinsic and extrinsic motivation.


This week is about building the basis for motivation! In order to build this basis, let’s touch back to the blog from two weeks ago, “Everyone Deserves to Feel Safe”. I brought up the idea that there is a FEELING of safety that horses and humans alike will instinctively defend as if it were an intrinsic right. That feeling is built with five stages of belief.


  1. Physical needs met.
  2. Security needs met.
  3. Connection needs met.
  4. Self-Esteem needs met.
  5. Self-Actualization needs met.


I am suggesting that, to the degree those five needs are believed to be satisfied, there is a FEELING of safety. It gets interesting when one considers we all are individuals and somewhat unique, so the physical reality of meeting each need varies somewhat from person to person and from horse to horse. The constant is: To the degree they BELIEVE the needs have been met, they will FEEL safe.


How do we know how safe someone feels? I propose we can know by how they define themselves. And that defining of one’s self goes through three stages. As life ebbs and flows though various situations, we will all revisit the three stages again and again. When we can meet each stage with understanding, life evolves with a beautiful rhythm.


Stage 1. Tolerating

Or not tolerating as the case may be; this is where we don’t feel safe yet and we will defend our rights to feel safe. Emotions run rampant, or depression takes over. We become defined by everything we don’t want, or don’t like, or can’t handle.


Stage 2. Accepting

This is where we can see what makes us feel unsafe, but, instead of defending ourselves from it so strongly, we can acknowledge it and look for its opposite, using the contrast to define what we prefer and letting the lack of safety propel us. We become defined by both what we hate AND what we love.


Stage 3. Enjoying

This is where we feel safe enough to keep reaching for more of what feels good. We believe our basic needs have been met and there is no pull to be defensive. That leaves us free to define ourselves by what we love, what we want, what we enjoy, and the best of everything life has to offer in that moment.


We all will experience all of the above, we are designed for a broad and diverse experience in life. I am merely suggesting that with some understanding and appreciation, we might move through the first two stages with more grace, and be able to look ahead to how good life gets when we feel safe enough to define ourselves by what we love instead of what we don’t.



So here are a few keys to help us move through the stages smoothly, horse or human, it works the same way.


Tolerance – Marked by high emotionality, defensiveness, and defining one’s self by everything one does not like. Key- break it down, take life in smaller bite-sized pieces, rest often, move forward and back away, advancing and retreating gently until you start to see the light at the end of the tunnel.


Acceptance – Marked by a more steady nature, defensive and also searching for what is needed to let go of that defense. Defining one’s self by both what one likes and what one does not like. Key – stick with moving forward toward what you need, keep at it, keep thinking about it, keep working until there is more attention on what is wanted than on what is not wanted.


Enjoyment – There is no mistaking this stage. When you define yourself by what you love, there is nothing better.


Enjoyment is the encompassing FEELING of safety when all our needs are met.


Enjoyment is the magical feeling of being in the “zone” or the state of “flow”


Enjoyment is our birthright.


So here is the challenge: In our horses and in ourselves, can we see and support the stages of tolerance and acceptance? The more we pay attention, the better we get at it, and the better we get at it, the more time we get to spend enjoying life.


Be Defined By What You Love,


Elsa Sinclair


The Project:

Mustangs directly off the range, Stretching the boundaries of training horses without tools

Understanding passive leadership, Learning, Listening, and Leaning into life together


The Goal:

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


Wait for it…

The warm breeze of an Indian summer lilts softly through this September day. Almost a year now since my last post on this blog and I would like to think I am a year wiser, a year clearer, and a year better than I was, well worth the wait.

After our intense focus on the Mustang Project, Myrnah and I needed some time- time for her to relax and grow up building the kind of strength only time will grant, time also for me to plunge into the rapids of an ever-changing life and evolve my own path.

A year later finds me living in a new town, building a new style of teaching, and learning from my ever-faithful Mustangs. I find myself building and blending the past, the present, and the future into a sort of primordial soup that feeds the person I want to be.IMG_3114


And the news everyone wants to hear, I also, most beautifully and unexpectedly, find myself in love with and engaged to the most wonderful Man I never expected to meet. Thank you Christopher Gough for being that facet of my life too brilliant to predict or expect.

Myrnah and I began work together again this fall when she made the trip from the tranquil San Juan Islands to my new place in Redmond, WA. While seven acres of rolling pasture may not be the near hundred she had been used to on the island, it’s still a rare find for city horses, with brilliant views of the sixty-acre soccer fields below us, and endless entertainment of cheering fans, model airplanes, bottle rockets, and hot air balloons landing right next door. My four horses seem very happy indeed with their new life as they watch the world go by from their raven’s roost of a red barn on the hill.

Myrnah’s first year with me was all about passive leadership. What is it, how do I do it. How much dominance is too much (when she walks away and refuses to talk to me, I know I have crossed the line). In all horse training today, dominance is part of the process; even in clicker training the area tends to be confined so the horse can’t get away. My first year with Myrnah asked the question: Is it possible to train a horse with only passive leadership? The answer was a resounding YES! The results were above and beyond anything I expected. The horse Myrnah is today is the best partner I could hope to have.


I wish every horse I had was started this way, and I wish I had the fortitude and time to continue purely down this course. Looking deep in the reflecting pool of choices, I find the results from the Mustang Project are everything I want with the exception of efficient.

So looking at the spectrum of dominant leadership to passive leadership as a continuum of choices, I choose to take middle road.

Some days I leave all the gear behind and work from a passive perspective. What will my horses give me of their own volition, no tools to control, no confined spaces to force them into relationship with me, no food to bribe them, just me and them and the spaces we exist in together.

Other days we bring out the ropes and the saddles, the bridles and the confined spaces, asking the question: If I speed up the process of training, do I still feel good about the results? If I lean into the territory of dominant leadership, do I still like the relationship we have from moment to moment? I will let you know how it goes…

So far, of all my horses, Myrnah is the steadiest even when we step into a more dominant leadership context. She is the quickest to adopt a brave attitude out on the trail, she is the softest to adapt to new gear like a bit in her mouth, and she stays in the barn long after the others have left for the far pasture, following me around like she would really like to do more. Those signs confirm for me that first year we took slow was well worth the time and the wait.


So what happens now that passive leadership is part of a spectrum in my work with Myrnah instead of the whole focus?

I still intend to write from the passive leadership perspective. There are many trainers in the world who will help you be more effective, efficient, and dominant. There are far too few who will slow down and ask about the benefits of being more passive, allowing the relationship to evolve and grow naturally.

So I leave you with some teachings from Saavedra, Cleo, Myrnah, and Zohari in their liberty lesson with Sophie and Arianna this week.

To begin, we need to ask for connection as many times and in as many ways as we need to. When the horse reaches out to us, THEN we wait. What are we waiting for? We wait for comfort, for ease, for enjoyment of the moment. Those are the intangibles, the glue that binds us together.IMG_3451

Enjoyment, comfort, ease… you can’t ask for those, you can only wait for them to happen.

We set the relationship up by asking for something the horse craves- connection. Then we must wait for the horse to feel it, love it, bask in it.

Then we ask for a movement- forward, sideways, backwards, up, or down, because movement together and the conversation about movement builds that craved connection. Then we reach out to the horse again. Do they reach back to us? Or do they pull away, showing us that we asked too much too soon, driving them away emotionally? If we want this relationship we have to keep asking for connection again until they reach out to us, and then we WAIT. Wait for them to feel the satisfaction of being together.

That is the process. And this is the blog that will help me evolve and grow the understanding of what passive leadership really is.


If you would like to join me and the horses to learn more, give me a call or send me an email. This liberty work is some of the most powerful learning I have every done with horses, and my door is open to anyone who would like to come learn with us.

Elsa Sinclair

The Project:

One Mustang directly off the range

One Mustang born into the project

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.


Turning the Tides

Swirling foam and spraying salt water, blowing sand and dancing grasses- time at the beach is time like no other. With the constantly turning tides and weather, adaptability becomes an essential way of life. To begin year number two together, I couldn’t think of a better foray for Myrnah, Errai, and me than the beach. This two weeks at the beach was about much more than a physical destination; it was about turning the tides of focus and emotion. The tides have kept us close to home so far, in our safe cozy valley with all the herd close around us. This tide changed in mid-September and swept us into a horse trailer headed on a ten-hour trip south via ferries, highways, and winding small roads to Longbeach, Washington- twenty six miles of an incredible beach to play on, dream on, and hone our partnership on.

The most beautiful cabin, a six-stall barn with paddocks and play areas, and a five-minute walk through the dunes to the beach- this became home for two weeks of heaven. Thank-you, Maggie Schuler, for creating such a place for us to stay.

And a great thanks for Myrnah and Errai for handling this change in tide all so smoothly. They stepped out of the trailer like it was just another day’s events and have amazed me daily with their calm appreciation of the new world around them.

Every day we walk to the beach a couple of times, munching the dune grasses along the path, Errai galloping over hill and dale, stretching his little legs to take in all the new land he can. Myrnah and I keep the halter on to and from the beach. I think she has only hit the end of the rope and felt pressure from it a handful of times, yet I find myself grateful in those moments to have caught her attention quickly and focused her in partnership again.

The alternative, without a halter altogether is to run with her when she gets startled into flight, possibly getting left behind if her flight is longer than my stamina. At home this is what we do, but here, where cars and unknown civilization pose a danger, we only take the halter off when I am riding and an unexpected moment of flight is something we can weather together, working that emotional tide around again to confidence.


Day by day it was fun to see our confidence grow. From small splashes in knee-deep, calm water, to braving the swirling waves, to learning to hold a line running along the ocean where the sand was firm, to resisting the ever-intoxicating draw of the safe dunes where grass is sweet and the wind is softer.The beach requires adaptability and the willingness to face the unknown. That Myrnah and Errai have been able to accomplish all this with me without a rope to hold them to it, without a stick to drive them to it, without a saddle to hold me secure, I find a marvel every day.

The bonds of friendship Myrnah and I have built over the last year have held strong. Even when fear grips her for a moment and I find I have to lie down on her neck, working my fingertip pressure up to a firm slap on the side of her cheek, I find myself amazed and grateful that is all it takes to change the emotional tide, bringing her back to rationality as she bends her neck around to touch my foot with her nose. Even when the wind kicks up so strongly that we can’t hear anything and have to lean into it, she comes back to touch me again and again, leaning on that bond of friendship and trust to help her face blowing sand, swirling waves, and buffeting gales. When I finally tell her we have done enough and head back to the quiet of the dunes, I know she is happy. Yet every day she again heads to the ocean with me to play in the waves, and seems to enjoy the challenges I set in front of her.

I had no idea of what to expect on this journey to the beach. I knew Myrnah and I would do as much or as little as we could. If all we could do was go peek at the waves from the safety of the dunes, then that is all we would do. After only a year together with no tools to force growth to a speed, I had no expectations. Yet, like every little girl, I must admit I dreamed of galloping on the beach, horse and rider as one through whipping wind against a backdrop of crashing waves. About a week into our trip, much to my amazement, Myrnah was there too. Galloping was something we could do together.

It was fun, it was thrilling, and the calm of walking home afterward was the most peaceful feeling on earth.

Sometimes the tide is low and the waves quiet over long-stretching sandbars; sometimes the tide is high with steep, soft sand and crashing waves. Sometimes the sun kisses us, sometimes the wind buffets us, and sometimes the fog wraps us in its quiet glow like a dream. No matter the surroundings, Myrnah and I face the waves and soak it all in, drinking life up for all it is worth. When fear of the unknown presents itself, we work together, turning the tides of emotion until we again can face the waves and soak up the beauty.

Elsa Sinclair

The Project:

One Mustang directly off the range, One Mustang born into the project, 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.



Here we are in the first week of year number two with Myrnah. Beautiful hot August weather has us all mellow and peaceful. True to my stated intentions, I am training less intensely this week. I still spend some time with her each day I am home, yet I am relieved feeling my drive to achieve has relaxed, leaving in its wake a calm assured feeling that all is well. So if all is well just as it is, what do I reach for next? And how hard do I push to get there? As in anything, I believe there is a balance to be found. Ratios kept in balance between pushing for progress and enjoying the moment.

I believe the ratio we are looking for here in training horses is two to one. For every minute we spend pushing for progress, we need to spend two enjoying the moment we are in.

That becomes an interesting notion when you have a green horse who isn’t sure it wants to do anything you want to do. As a partnership, the two of you, horse and rider, need to agree on something to do together that you both enjoy, something you can spend twice as much time doing together as the exercises that are pushing for progress. This is a concept Myrnah has driven home for me over the last year.  I have a million things I want to do and achieve, yet, because this is a cooperative partnership between the two of us, the only way for me to push for progress is to make sure Myrnah gets enjoyment out of the rides also.

I can push for progress because I love it, yet I always need to remember, twice as much time needs to be spent both of us enjoying life.

So I ponder, what does that mean? Do I have to just sit still on Myrnah, letting her graze, to fill my quota of enjoyable time together? Can it be walking around?  Can it be trotting or cantering? Can it be practicing precision patterns or trail riding? How do I know if I am getting the ratios right between pushing for progress and sitting back to enjoy life?

Here is how I look at it: How much pressure does it take to accomplish something? In Natural Horsemanship we talk about phases of pressure, generally working in increments of four. Phase one is a suggestion, phase two is a request, phase three is a demand, and phase four is a promise life would have been more pleasant if the horse had responded to one, two or three. In phase one or two the horse has an option to say no, as a suggestion or a request is part of two-way communication. Phase three and phase four are more about dominance and submission: if there is to be a leader and a follower, yes needs to be the only answer, otherwise a power struggle ensues.

Any time that power struggle crops up you are then in the range of pushing for progress.

Enjoying the moments together exists strictly within the ranges of phase one or two pressure. The horse needs to have an option to say no, and choose to say yes anyway.

So if we are looking at a balanced ratio between pushing for progress and enjoying the time, what things we are able to do is completely based on how far our training together has progressed. How good have we gotten at building the habit of saying yes to a request?

If my horse always has a positive response to my suggestions of jumping big jumps or doing complicated maneuvers, then I know we are pretty advanced in our training and it becomes easier to spend the right ratio of time pushing or enjoying. If my horse is more green, as Myrnah is, then I need to be aware that our time enjoying may be as simple as walking around the fields, possibly even stopping for lots of rests during that walk. A third of the time I can push her to try a little harder, to practice doing things outside of her comfort zone, increasing our training so that tomorrow’s rides are that much easier and that much more fun for both of us. I have to watch myself though; if I get my ratios out of balance then I find I no longer have a willing partner in my horse. This project without a halter or bridle or stick or rope has helped me immensely respect the value of maintaining a willing partnership with my horse. If Myrnah isn’t willing, there is no way I can force her into cooperation.

All theory aside, here is the physical update: because we are into our second year the halter came into play this week. Myrnah and I take a daily walk to a new and different location outside the pasture with her wearing a halter, to go find her grain and supplements (which thank goodness, she is finally eating and enjoying). The halter really doesn’t come into play much; it is just a matter of familiarization and easy acceptance.

Errai wears his for a few minutes around grooming time, getting comfortable with the feel of it as he follows me for his favorite scratches.

When we head to Long Beach for our two-week vacation in September, Myrnah and Errai will be in an area close to the highway. The halter will become an important safety net in those moments when their attention may become scattered about a new environment. I need to know I can recover their attention quickly enough to avoid any dangerous traffic incidents. The halters give me that confidence as we explore the world. So far, halter awareness is progressing smoothly for Myrnah and Errai, I think they will be ready for travel come September fourteenth.


Until then I will do my best to keep the ratios right as we all learn and grow together. A willing partnership between horse and rider is the stuff of dreams. Myrnah, Errai and I, we are living the dream!

Elsa Sinclair

The Project:

One Mustang directly off the range, One trainer, No tools, Just body language

The Goal:

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


The Year Finishes Up With A Bang!


Rumbling thunder, flashes of lightning, and an amazing sky of billowing clouds on blue… backlit by the setting sun- clouds became defined by their bright halos, and the twilight glowed like something out of a story.


Tonight was spectacular.


Framed by that backdrop of earth and sky, Myrnah and I tackled our final accomplishment of the year. Of all the things I dreamed of doing with Myrnah in our first year together, this last piece brought forth the most excitement in me, and was also something I thought I had given up on doing anytime soon.



To ride a horse at full speed is what dreams are made of: wind in mane, the pulse and ripple of strength carrying through space high and fast, all cares left behind, the feel of power and speed filling the senses.


To take a wild Mustang off the range, bond with it, partner with it, develop a language with it, and convince it to carry me high- two beings becoming one as the centaur of legend- this too is what dreams are made of.


Put together the bond, the trust, the partnership, and the speed, against a backdrop of thunder, lightning, and billowing clouds at sunset: What could be more perfect than that?


Did it really happen? Yes it did.


Was it that storybook magical?


No, not really. It was ever so much more real and mundane and perfect in how it came together.


Last ride of the day, I walked out to get Myrnah in the far corner of the far pasture. After I swung up and we started our ride back toward the barn, the rest of the herd began to play. The weather was fresh. Tails flagged, heads tossed, rivalries long buried resurfaced for the fun of dancing and playing and chasing each other in the wind.


My first thought riding along on Myrnah was: Here is my opportunity to gallop. The herd is hot and playful; Myrnah would probably follow them and gallop a little, letting me cross that last task off my year-one wish list for Myrnah and me.


My second thought was: This is going to be the day I pass up my dream and play it safe. Thirteen horses cavorting and galloping in the wind is not the first place one would choose to ride a newly-started, bridleless Mustang. I was here amidst the crowd whether I chose it or not, but I didn’t intend to join the excitement. Lucky for me, Myrnah really is that bonded with me and respected my request for peaceful travel in spite of the fun going on around us.


By the time we had walked up close to the barn, the water troughs, and the trailer, I had decided the energy crackling in the air around us was too good to pass up. It was time to take this opportunity and run with it.


So Myrnah and I headed down to the far corner of the bottom pasture- that same corner of the field I had regularly traveled to as a child with four or five friends around me, our horses prancing and chomping at their bits because they knew this was the racing corner. Animals barely held in check until that moment someone yelled GO! Then we would be off in a blur of speed, across the bottom land, up alongside the pond, holding on tight as they jumped the ditch, and then the final burst of speed up the hill past the maple tree, children’s fingers clutching at sweaty reins as we tried to bring the horses back under control before heading back down the hill to the barn, hopefully at a walk.


All these memories swarmed through my head as Myrnah and I walked through the bottomland to the corner of the pasture. Here I was, thirty-four years old, and riding that same excitement of a gallop ahead. Only this time there was no frothing, foaming horse fighting the bit, no rivalry of companions arguing about who got to yell go. Instead, here I was bareback on a mare who one year ago was wild and untouched, only to be rounded up and brought into a life she previously had no idea existed. Here I was, about to gallop her for the first time with only my fingertips and my legs to guide her, my voice and my weight to steady her, and our trust and bond to hold us together whatever happened.

We started off and were quickly into a canter. I asked for more speed and she gave me more, I asked again and she gave me another notch more. Crouched low over her neck, fingers wrapped in her mane, I asked again and she stretched out just a little more for me.


Was it fast? Not very, but it was faster than we had ever gone before. Much faster than a canter, but still only a portion of the full speed hovering under the surface.


Was it smooth? Unbelievably smooth, like carrying riders at speed was something Myrnah had done every day of her life, balanced and effortless.


Was it fun? You can only imagine…

All year Myrnah and I have worked, and strived, and dreamed, and meditated on who we are and who we can be together.


Here we are. It is less like the fairy tale I dreamed up, and it is more like the brilliant reality I couldn’t have even imagined a year ago. This reality of connection between Myrnah and me is beyond what I expected, and still merely a hint of the potential underlying.


So here is to the year ahead! Meditations on Equestrian Art, part one: the year finishes up with a bang! I hope you have enjoyed the ride with me. Meditations on Equestrian Art, part two: here we come; who knows what the future will bring…

Elsa Sinclair

The Project:

One Mustang directly off the range, One trainer, No tools, Just body language

The Goal:

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


Bringing up Baby

I find I am writing this post with some trepidation. It’s one thing to take a mustang out of hundreds needing homes and try out an experimental training process with her. Whatever happens it’s better than the life most mustangs off the range have to look forward to. However, a small foal brings out the most protective instincts in people. All sorts of opinions crop up: foals should be imprinted; foals should be left alone; foals should be haltered right away; foals should be exposed to as much stimulus as possible; foals should be kept quiet and peaceful… Whatever the opinions are, right or wrong, I am going to make my own choices and most likely do things a little differently. Myrnah and I will be bringing up baby with the same ideals we used to develop our partnership. For better or worse he too is part of the experiment.

Rules of Engagement:

1. The foal always has an exit route open.

2. Anytime the foal wants a rest, all he has to do is reach out and touch you with his nose.

3. Only touch the foal after he has touched you.

4. Respect the foal’s personal space; if he tenses when approached, back off.

5. Teach him polite manners of always yielding space to people. He is little, so it doesn’t take much of a push to gently move him away when he gets too playful or close.

6. The bond between mare and foal is sacred: if they think it is time to nurse, snuggle, or talk to each other, wait for them to finish before interjecting an outside idea.

Six simple rules to follow bringing up this baby. Will this foal become too pushy without being taught to lead and give to pressure right away? Will he become afraid and unconfident about the world without imprinting to set him up for confidence? I don’t know the answers to those questions, but I am guessing the results of raising the foal this way will be no less beautiful than the results of taming a mustang have been so far.

As for Myrnah and me, our training schedule has been put on sabbatical temporarily. My observation is, for the first while with a new foal, the mare is completely devoted to following him around. She does not expect him to follow her until later, after their bond has had a chance to develop. Myrnah’s attention has been committed to following the foal, eating as much as she can when he is sleeping or staying close of his own choice. When he nurses, she stops everything to be still and present with him; when he plays, she watches him with a quiet awareness, there if he needs her to accompany him in his adventures.

When I visited them May 14th at two in the morning, shortly after the foal was born, Myrnah was grazing, and the foal was walking around close to her, trying out his new long legs. I could see them dimly in the glow coming from my phone, but put it away and sat quietly in the dark, close to them without interfering. Within moments Myrnah took the few steps over to me to say hi and give me a nuzzle. A few minutes later the foal stumbled right into me in his explorations, and I held him a moment while he found his balance again. I sat with them for an hour and a half, and during that time both of them came over to see me often. Before I left I stood next to the foal, just off the left side of his haunches; Myrnah took the right side of his haunches and together we gently nudged him to lead us into the smaller paddock farther from the herd, with better fences to keep him from going too far astray from Myrnah in his explorations, at least for the first few days.

Day one, I groomed Myrnah and washed her tail with buckets of water I brought to her so she could remain at her post watching over her new little one. I marveled at how calm and easy she was about everything. I spent time with them, hand on Myrnah’s withers, moving wherever they did; or laid out in the grass a few feet from the little one, both of us sleeping, Myrnah watching over us. Whenever the foal woke up he give a little whinny, and three or four horses in the field whinnied back; this little guy has a whole family who can’t wait to meet him.

Day two, I asked her to follow me just a few steps to the fence where her supplement feed was hanging in a bucket. With great hesitation and many glances back she did; both of us were relieved when the little one followed too. That evening I asked her to follow me across the paddock, but the foal staked his claim and began to nurse, so we waited;

then, as we walked across the paddock, he stopped to pee. I reassured Myrnah that he would catch up in a moment, and she hesitantly kept moving with me. Sure enough, when he was done, he whinnied at the top of his lungs and galloped after us at full speed. Funny thing was later, when I said goodnight and walked away from them, I got only half way across the paddock before he had galloped after me, his mum in tow behind him. All that following him around (like a very gentle drive) on day one had created an incredible draw in him on day two.

Day three, the little one got a name, Errai- named after a star that will eventually move into position to take over the role of the North Star in our skies. It is derived from an Arabic word and means “The Shepherd” I have to say I also like the similarity in pronunciation to the word awry, meaning “away from the appropriate, planned or expected course”. I am sure Errai will teach me a lot as he deviates from the course I thought I had planned. Life is sometimes the most fun when you don’t know exactly what to expect. Day three, Myrnah and Errai got to stretch out into the larger orchard. There are fences he can get under that his Mum can’t, but his draw is strong enough now he always comes right back to her; and there is only more orchard space for him to explore on the other side of those fences. The herd is in view, but too distant to reach.

Errai continues to be more and more inquisitive and interested in everything. Myrnah continues to be the best Mom I have ever seen a mare be. It will be interesting to see how it all develops from here.

Bringing up Baby is the title I chose for this blog (after the old movie) in an effort to remember life is full of comedy and we don’t have to take everything so seriously. We take our job as stewards for the young with an eye to making no mistakes and setting them up for a perfect life, as it should be. Yet sometimes we just need to sit back and laugh at it all and enjoy the moments as they come. Perhaps Errai is here to teach me it can all go awry and still be perfect.

Elsa Sinclair

The Project:

One Mustang directly off the range, One trainer, No tools, Just body language

The Goal:

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

Myrnah’s gift

When I began this project with Myrnah I imagined it as an isolated project. Interesting, yet separate and completely different from the rest of the training and teaching I do. Never have I been so thrilled to be wrong. Instead of the project being separate and different, I find the things Myrnah teaches me permeate and improve everything else I do. Myrnah’s gift to me, showing me a relationship with horses from a completely different angle, seems to spread all through my work like ripples in a pond.

The developmental processes Myrnah has helped me learn, the processes that I didn’t have a year ago, profoundly benefit the horses and the people I come in contact with everyday. So any of you who get to work with me, next time we have a great session together, Thank Myrnah!

This week, with its beautiful sunny days, white puffy clouds, and a school vacation, brings me to tell you about Cameron and Antheia. Cameron is my daughter, ten years old, and loves horses just about as much as I do. Antheia is the grey mustang filly coming three years old this spring. Thanks to Myrnah’s inspiration, this week was truly special for Cameron and Antheia.

Antheia and Cleo are the only two horses still living in the paddocks at my house. The pastures down in the valley with the lush abundant grass are a wonderland for any horse getting enough exercise to work off the sugar. For the horses not yet under saddle, all that food can be too much of a good thing… so for now Cleo and Antheia stay in the upland paddocks close to home with Cameron and me.

Antheia is a love- innately social with a playful mind and a steady disposition, eager for anything new and fun the world can bring her. At close to three-years-old I wasn’t in a hurry to start her riding career; however, I knew she and Cameron would both enjoy the development process immensely. So with the combination of sunny days, time on our hands, and Myrnah’s gift of inspiration, I broached the idea to Cameron, and the game was on!

Day one: Cameron groomed Antheia loose in the paddock and then I talked her through the drive and draw process Myrnah and I use. Slowly and patiently Cameron used the pressure of moving in and out of Antheia’s space to create the magnetic draw bonding them together. I was surprised how hard Antheia made Cameron work for it, and I was impressed with Cameron’s perseverance as she developed her timing to attract and draw Antheia with her. Once they made it to the round pen together, Antheia following Cameron freely at liberty, Cleo and I came in too and helped speed the process along.

The game was for Cameron to use as much drive and draw and patient persistence as she felt good about. If it felt like Antheia was not holding up her side of the equation- drawing to Cameron- then we could switch games, sending Cleo and Antheia out to take a run around the round pen together, knowing Antheia would be much more interested in working with Cameron once she knew the alternative.

My work with Myrnah has encouraged me to minimize sending horses away, pushing them to move because they are trapped between a fence and me. Nonetheless, tools like a round pen were created with good reason- they speed up the process. Not everyone has the time and the patience to take the slowest road of development. Cameron and Antheia’s work this week was inspired by Myrnah, yet tailored for them.

By the end of day one, Cameron had taught Antheia to draw with her and find a resting spot next to the tires stacked as a mounting block.

















Day two found the draw a little easier between them, and a comfortable ease with Cameron climbing up on the makeshift mounting block to stand up high over Antheia’s back and belly over, letting Antheia feel weight for the first time ever.













Day three graduated naturally to Cameron swinging a leg over and sitting high, Antheia carrying a rider astride for the first time.

















Day four Cameron was on and off a dozen times, sitting longer each time, finally riding as a passenger as Antheia chose to walk over and step up on the pedestal-

TA DA!!! .















Day five the draw between Cameron and Antheia was almost effortless, so they added to the groundwork the practice of pressure on Antheia’s side to mean move forward, linking beautifully with the riding. By the end of day five Cameron could ask for a walk with the nudge of a heel, and Antheia was happy to oblige.











There is something special about starting your first horse under saddle; it is an experience you don’t forget. Thanks to Myrnah, Cameron and Antheia took that experience up a notch- no saddle and no bridle or halter, just an understanding between them. I got to watch from the sidelines, simply offering words of encouragement and shining a light on their path.

I sat on the ground, Cleo standing guard over me as I snapped photos and reveled in watching another horse and rider experience the inexplicable joy that comes with building a bond and doing something new together. There is really nothing quite like it.

Myrnah’s gift I think is really about realizing how powerfully rewarding it is to do things with more trust and less force. It may take longer, it may feel harder, it may seem pointless at times, but there is nothing comparable to the feeling you get doing something new, knowing your partner wants to be there with you. Nothing is holding you, but the desire to be there together.

Elsa Sinclair