This week I don't have any original content for you, instead I would like to share a documentary called “Path of the Horse.” This documentary was created by Stormy May, who was a professional trainer with a full schedule of horses and students. She had the feeling that something was missing in the traditional training methods she was familiar with, and decided to leave the life she knew in order to pursue learning. She compiled a list of trainers who were doing things differently and started traveling to interview them, in search of answers.
What she discovered was true horsemanship, which is not a new practice, but is a method of thinking, training, and being that is outside the mainstream way of doing things.
I believe that Stormy May deserves a lot of recognition for her leap of faith. She obviously made a number of personal sacrifices to make this project a reality, plus she had the guts to admit that her old way of doing things was flawed, and she had the drive and the open mind to pursue a new way. There have been a number of times in my own equestrian journey where I have had to admit my mistakes as well, it is never easy but it is necessary for growth.
I feel this is one of those films that will affect you most when you are ready for it. I know I had watched and read similar information years ago, but sometimes other pieces of the puzzle need to fall into place before the entirety of the message becomes clear. Now when I watch this film, I feel so grateful for what I have learned and put into practice with my horses, but I also feel humbled and inspired because there is so much more to learn and the great horseman and horsewomen featured in this movie and others like them remind me to always keep looking for a better way of being and communicating with horses.
This documentary is an hour long, but trust me, it's worth your time to watch it! After you do, read on below, where I shared some of my favorite bits of wisdom from the film.
The next few paragraghs are just what stood out to me during the film. Some of these thoughts are direct quotes from the trainers in the video and others are what I wrote down as things came together in my own head. After you are done reading scroll down and tell me your favorite part in the comments.
For me, the best quote from the whole film is from Mark Rashid, that we must have a “mind like still water” when working with horses. I find this very powerful, because a clear mind is so important just in life, but especially with the horses. Carolyn Resnick’s words that our interaction with the horse needs to be a balance of stillness and movement, just as in our own lives we need a balance of meditation and activity. I also loved how she brought up the “joy of united movement” and how horses are always matching each others movement, just as we humans do when we head out to the dance floor and gather to run 5ks or do community walks.
Klaus Ferdinand Hefling made an interesting statement that you must have some degree of self-awareness to work with horses, otherwise you will find the work frustrating as you struggle to connect with the horse. I have shared Alexander's videos before, because I love to watch him with his horses, he has such a quiet, still presence, yet his horses are so full of life, energy, and power. It is amazing how his horses perform movments of the high school of dressage at liberty.
The last bits of wisdom I want to wrap up with are being ok with now knowing what you are doing all the time, and enjoy the process of learning instead of just analyzing the results. Allow yourself to be adaptable, to enjoy the small moments, and to just be in the present. Find the path of the horse and join in on the dance! Sounds like fun! I hope you enjoy this film as much as I did, leave a comment with your favorite piece of wisdom!
Watched this movie last year – it was life changing and set me on a different course with my horses. As an older horse owner rider horses for me are all about life enrichment. Klaus Hempflings you tube
channel is awesome. Check out Horse Concious.com & Horses for Life websites ( if you havent already). and thank you for your weekly videos I have learned alot. Julie
Hi Julie, Thanks for sharing those resources! I went on both the HorseConcious.com and the Horses for Life Websites, lots of good articles and information there!
Did Stormy go back to teaching, having horses etc…..
Leah, Stormy actually is doing online courses now!
-Julia Burdy, CRK Training Community Manager
Hi beautiful Callie and team,
Thank-you for posting this film, I am a beginner rider and have found your training videos to be invaluable to me with having limited access to horses. After I watched the Path of the Horse, I felt confused, and saddened. It raised some serious eithical concerns for me whether I am doing the right thing in continuing my lessons:
1) Does this mean that any pull back of the bitted reign I do to slow the horse down causes the horse pain? Or is a threat of pain?
2) Does this mean that we should not be riding our horses after 15 minutes as the studies from this film claims it causes our horses numbing, discomfort and potential nerve issues?
Unfortunately I haven’t come across any riding schools that use bitless bridles…
Hi Rachel, it is important to remember the tools are only as harsh as the hands that use them. By educating ourselves on how we can best cue and teach the horses, the more we can reduce the stress. It is important to have a soft and steady hand in the saddle, you can click here for a video we did on this subject a couple months ago.
-Julia, CRK Training Community Manager