19October2017

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Leslie Desmond: A Biography

Leslie grew up in Massachusetts and Vermont and learned about her first horse from a neighbor who was educated in the "old school." She trained the horses that she rode in regional jumping competitions and local gymkhana events, and then went on to coach children and new horse owners in the basics of riding and horse care. After high school, she worked at a number show barns, racing stables and small breeding establishments on the east coast and Midwest USA. For 43 years Leslie has helped horses and their owners. Among these were troubled horses that others had given up on... race horses, show ponies, draft horses, jumpers and other kinds of performance and backyard pleasure horses.

In 1990, Leslie relocated her riding school to Novato, California, where she founded Diamond Lu Productions and released her first three-volume video series, "American Horsemanship for Young & Old. She was inspired to produce the best-selling "how-to" horsemanship series for beginners by her most influential childhood mentor, Ivan Taylor, a retired World War I cavalry officer from Manchester, Vermont . "Ivan was in his mid-90s when I met him and the sessions we had back in the early 1960s prepared me to fully enjoy my work with people and horses in the decades that followed. Ivan's gentle approach also prepared me to recognize the priceless gift that the late Bill Dorrance (1906 - 1999) - the legendary horseman and rancher from Salinas, California - left for those of us who want to work with our horses through feel," Leslie said.

During the last years of his life, Bill asked Leslie to accept his guidance during a 4-year apprenticeship while she recorded his knowledge and experiences for posterity. Between 1995 and 1999 they trained horses together, put on demonstrations and held clinics around Monterey County, California, while she co-wrote the classic text, "True Horsemanship Through Feel". The sequel to their book, a 10-CD audio book called "Horse Handling and Riding Through Feel" that Leslie published in 2006, is an info-packed guide to better horsemanship through feel. "It was my hope to ease the serious horseman's journey by creating an easy learning avenue," she said. "My dream is that horse enthusiasts and trainers from all disciplines will consider and take on board the finer points of feel and release as they travel down the road."

Leslie now works exclusively with trainers who want to advance their horse handling and riding skills through feel. She lives half the year in Sweden and continues to hold horse training seminars and demonstrations in the US and Europe.