Elsa is an incredibly inspiring woman. We met many years ago in Washington state not long after I bought my first horse Pegasus – my awesome Red Mare. I was lucky to have her as a riding instructor for several years and she was a calming supportive influence when I was going through some difficult times in my personal life. When I moved across the country for work, she was who I entrusted to look after my sweet horse till she was transported to Florida to join me.
Elsa always focused on the relationship with the horse and eventually pulled a wild mustang off the range to train without the use of tools – yes you heard me correctly! Fortunately for us, she filmed that journey and made it into a stunning documentary “Taming Wild”, I cant recommend it highly enough! Myrnah, a horse with her own mind, strength and sense of independence. One trainer, no tools, just body language. The ups and downs, the trials and frustrations, and the beauty and persevering truths connection brings in its wake.
She currently is in post production for a second documentary “Taming Wild – Pura Vida”, again exploring the ideas behind Freedom Based Training® and delving even deeper with new ways of building relationships between horses and humans. Teaming up with Andrea Wady of Pura Vida Equus, together they rescued two horses and trained them as they crossed the country of Costa Rica from the West Coast to the East Coast. The horses long walk towards a second chance at a good life.
She also teaches clinics all over the world – talk about an inspiration? I am proud and flattered to have her wear my jewelry as she continues to follow her dreams and blaze her own trail.
Conversation with Elsa
You have followed your own path. What makes you, uniquely you?
The willingness to try things that no one has done before, while at the same time having great reverence for all the brilliance of experience that has come before my time. I am able to do what I do with horses because of the many dedicated intelligent horse teachers who trained me, and the many patient generous horses that shared my journey of learning and shaped who I am today.
When did you first decide to follow you dreams of being a professional horsewoman?
From my earliest memories my mother organized our time with horses so that everyone helped each other in a grand cooperative teaching organization of peers. As I grew up and studied more with varieties of different equestrian teachers it only made sense to share what I had learned with a broader and broader range of people who were interested in the same things I was. I am not sure it was a decision, it was simply how my life took shape and I love it.
What were the challenges or struggles you faced?
Honestly, I hate being cold! Horse trainers have many, many cold mornings and freezing late nights. Sometimes it would feel like I picked entirely the wrong profession as I cried freezing tears from one job to the next with no end in sight.
What made you keep going?
The next horse that needed my help, each horse’s situation seemed more important than anything I suffered in the moment. If I could help one more horse, it was worth the struggle.
What changes or tradeoffs did you make in order to achieve your dream?
As a parent, I gave up a great deal of time with my daughter. She loves horses so we share that passion when I am home, but when I travel to teach I have to trust that the rest of the family is taking brilliant care of her while I cannot be there. I hope that the example I live following my dreams is worth the trade off the times we couldn’t spend together.
Tell me about your love and connection to animals.
I can’t quite imagine my life without animals. All the love and connection and skills we need to thrive in the human world are things animals show us and let us experience with them everyday. If we pay attention, animals let us feel the kinds of ease in relationship we all seek. Animals allow us to slow down and see how good life really can be in connection to our friends.
How do you find balance in your hectic life?
Balance is found from moment to moment. When you live in the moment and you pay attention to what is happening directly in front of you, balance is only ever one reasonable decision away. Horses teach the feel and timing of life balance. It doesn’t have to be complicated.
Who were the inspiring women in your life?
My mother, I have no idea how one person can have so much energy all the time, and can be so good at managing so many people in so many different directions with perpetual optimism. I think I am a bit of a tortoise in comparison, but I like to think I make up for it in attention to detail.
How do you give back?
I put a great deal of time and attention into horses who may have been discarded as useless, and I show the world how brilliantly valuable they are. When I show other people how to do this, the world becomes richer for all the bonds and connections that become established. Connection between beings, be they horse or human, builds health for everyone.
What is your favorite place in the world to travel to?
Travel is my second home! I am happiest when I am moving and connecting with people and horses all over the world, so my favorite place would be the one I am just about to get to!
What is your favorite inspirational quote?
Instructions for living a life. Pay attention. Be astonished. Tell about it. ~Mary Oliver
This quote is at the top of my blog at EquineClarity.org and I feel like it is some of the best advice I have found. Life is incredible when we pay attention.
Tell us about your favorite piece of Red Mare Jewelry?
The Horse Heart necklace reminds me of the depth of feeling and heart horses bring into our lives. My life is so much richer because of my connection to horses and I am grateful for them every day. This necklace is a beautiful embodiment of that feeling.
What is the one piece of advice you would give to any woman out there struggling to find a way to be true to their passions, or follow their dreams?
Every day do one thing that takes you one small step toward your goal, passion or dream. Talk about it, write about it, research it, learn about it, and give yourself the gift of time, there is no hurry, just do a little every day in that direction and you will be amazed how far that takes you.
What is the one piece of advice you would give to your younger self?
Remember, this too shall pass. What ever is happening, it won’t last forever. Good, bad, fun or boring, it is all temporary, so soak up the experience for everything it is worth before it is replaced by a new experience. You can’t step in the same river twice, so drink it in and feel the richness of existence.
Elsa got her first pony at the age of seven. From then on, it was a constantly evolving love affair with her and the horses. One naughty pony after the next, Elsa was shown the ropes and taught what it was to work together with the horses (or not as sometime the case seemed) toward common goals. Childhood life took her through a meandering journey of Pony Club, trail rides, dressage and jumping lessons; through teaching and helping misunderstood horses and the wonderful and determined people who desired to become partners with them.