Hi folks,

Thanks for visiting my website and taking the time to learn a little bit about me and what I do. I’m a horseman—horses are and always have been my absolute passion in life. They are my teachers. The lessons I’ve learned from them have directly shaped everything I do today as a trainer, clinician and as a person. I’d love to share with you what a lifetime in the saddle has taught me.

I started out my life with horses as a simple ranch hand. That’s all I wanted to be. I wanted to live as far away from town as I possibly could and if I could have said nothing more than, “Good morning,” and, “Good night,” and gotten away with it that would’ve been fine with me. But the horses had something else in mind—it seemed I had a knack for fixing the misunderstandings that were always cropping up between them and the people around me. The horses kept challenging me to use that skill. I became an interpreter for them. And now that shy cowboy who preferred not to speak spends a lot of his time traveling to different towns, meeting lots of great people and their horses and talking into a microphone. Go figure! But that experience has taught me two very important things which have become essential parts of my message: growth is a necessary part of life and horses can show us exactly where we need to grow.

Incidentally, I spent over 30 years as a cattleman in Wyoming, Montana and South Dakota. I’ve worked on outfits large and small and earned my way from cowboy to cow boss. It’s a beautiful but challenging country and I’ve run into all manner of things that aren’t “in the book” but that’s life as a ranch hand on the Northern Range. Out here you learn to analyze unique situations quickly and adapt to them—you develop a keen eye for finding exactly what works or you don’t succeed. This ability to think quickly and creatively has become a great asset in working with horses and people.

While on ranches I met and worked with some of the greatest horsemen you’ve never heard of; their innate grasp of what to do and when to do it inspires me to this day. Through the years I’ve also ridden with and learned from many of today’s most well-known horsemen, people you probably have heard of. I devoted myself to learning their philosophies, traditions and techniques and had success with the horses I was working with at the time. For a while I wanted to be just like them.

But I’ve always had a tremendous desire to understand the life around me; especially the horses but also the situations, the cattle—even the cow dogs—and the relationships between us all. As I studied these relationships I began to gain an awareness of how they perceived me. I didn’t always like what I saw. It caused me to take a step back from what I was doing. Simply making horses work better was no longer enough. I wanted to be something as good in their lives as they were in mine.

I began to forge my own path, to follow where the horses led me. Letting go of what I thought I knew, learning to trust my instincts and turn in the direction the horses themselves were offering was one of the hardest things I’ve ever done. But now I consider this breaking away from all traditions to learn directly from horses to be my greatest accomplishment. 

In doing so I’ve discovered I have an ability to feel what the horse feels, both physically and emotionally. This sensibility has changed my entire relationship with horses. The way we relate to each other is much more fun now and all those details that were once such a struggle— precise timing, balance and even what to do next—got easier and more natural. I believe that all horse people can develop this ability to some extent and I consider it my purpose in life to help them learn how. And I also believe we’re only just beginning to understand what a true partnership with our horses really means.

I don’t see myself as an advanced teacher of any one discipline. What I teach my students is applicable in every discipline, at every level. Grand Prix jumpers and competitive reiners can improve their partnerships by working with me. So can pleasure and trail riders. Of course I also teach the nuts and bolts of horsemanship: form and function, problem solving, colt starting and the biomechanics of gaits etc. (Check out the “Lessons and Training” tab or contact me if you have specific needs you’d like to discuss.) But the foundation of my teaching is to help students truly see and feel their horses, to gain an understanding that will lead to stress-free riding and happy relationships for riders and their horses.        

I look forward to working with you!

Wanna know a little more about me?

— Chris Ellsworth