Leslie's Latest NEWS

Last call for participants in 2015 - 2016 Apprenticeship Program; All Venues Confirmed

2015  DATES and VENUES CONFIRMED - Last call for applicants.

I want to thank each of you for the great patience you have exhibited during this drawn out registration process. The venue selection and confirmation process took much longer than expected!

The facilities that have been chosen to host these sessions are all in ideal settings, and have the amenities and equipment needed for a top notch experience.  

20 participants will selected on or before September 15, 2014. Scholarships will be  awarded on a first-come, first-served and qualified basis.  

Candidates for this limited number of spaces (20) who have not submitted their contact details must submit complete post address, email, and phone contact details by August 10th.  Everyone who has already sent their contact details to Leslie or Laura will receive a package.

We appreciate your understanding with the series of unexpected delays in getting the registration materials out to you.

Application packets will be sent out by the August 15th. Questions? Contact Laura: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.


Apprentices in the 12-week program must pick two venues to attend each year. (These do not have to be the same each year.) Limit 4 students per venue; Six riders/apprentices will be accepted at the venues in Norway, Sweden, Spain and Canada.


February 7 - 28 JC Horseshoe Ranch / Tarpley, TX

March 14 - April 3    Douglas Ranch / Paicines, CA

April 18 - May 9 Private venue in Colfax, CA

June 3 - 24 Korumdalen / Rakkestad, NORWAY

July 5 - 26 Kalvfalls Ranch / Österbymo, SWEDEN

August 1 - 22 Woodwind Farm / Hawkestone, Ontario, CANADA 

Sept 13 - Oct. 4   Glacier Valley Ranch / Ward, Colorado

Oct 24 - Nov 14     The Seven Springs Ranch / Glide, Oregon

Nov 28 - Dec 19 Tarrega (Lleida) SPAIN  




Feb 6 – 27     TBA / Tombstone, AZ

March 6 – 27  JC Horseshoe Ranch / Tarpley, TX

April 3 – 25   Douglas Ranch / Paicines, CA

May 1 – 22    Private venue in Colfax, CA

June  5 – 26  Korumdalen / Rakkestad, NORWAY

July 3 – 24     Kalvfalls Ranch / Österbymo, SWEDEN

August 7 – 28   Woodwind Farm / Hawkestone, Ontario, CANADA

September 4 – 25  Glacier Valley Ranch / Ward, Colorado

October 2 – 23  The Seven Springs Ranch / Glide, Oregon

November 6 – 27  Tarrega (Lleida) SPAIN

Feel & Release, and its Importance to the Horse and Rider

Thoughts on Feel & Release and its Importance

 to the Horse & Rider


by Leslie Desmond


 Whether you are headed for a jump, riding a dressage test, gathering cattle, helping a child learn how to ride, or closing a gate from the saddle, the horse that understands your intent and feel will be there to do whatever is needed at the right time. 

A horse like this makes the best partner and will work very hard for your mutual benefit. If he is or isn't that partner, it is up to the person to help him become that partner. I love my job helping people to discover what a committed partner their horse can be and how to help him cultivate the inborn ability to be that way.

 As a riding coach and horse trainer, in almost three decades of travel around the world, I have met thousands of people and horses. What I have enjoyed most about this opportunity is the vast and intriguing range of different approaches people use when they are handling and riding horses. Incredibly, most of these approaches actually work! 

Horses have an astounding capacity to adapt well to different training methods, presentations and challenging situations. Effective techniques are too numerous to mention here, but there are countless variations in human presentation that horses can accept.

 While I have had some excellent coaches along the way, my search for new information to help me become a better coach continues. In recent years my focused effort to be a better student of the horses I work with has underscored much needed clarity about exactly what it is that a horse does and does not need from me in a given moment. This connection is more rewarding than I ever imagined it could be. Occasionally I take private lessons from friends who know more than I do about how horses work and what it takes to ride and handle them better than I do now. The other inspirational source of new knowledge comes from my own students directly. Their plateaus, questions, goals, and fears challenge me to re-think my old solutions to common and not-so-common training dilemmas. I’ve discovered that many approaches work, but I am convinced that the techniques that horses understands best are all woven together by a common thread called "feel".

A horse understands many kinds of feel, such as the direct feel of the weather on its body, a hand or brush on its face or shoulder, or the bridle rein against the neck and a leg against the ribs. A horse also understands indirect feel, which includes things like variations of body language, the human voice, and also our emotions like joy, fear, sadness and anxiety, and yes, even our thoughts. Another kind of indirect feel that is of great importance to the horse is his perception of the way shared spaces are used. Examples of this include the pace and sound of a human footfall approaching or going away from him, the speed and feel of our other movements, as well as more subtle things like our core focus, line of sight, posture and the way we use our arms and hands, legs and feet in relation to the horse’s eye, withers, ribs and hips during ground exercises. 

All of these aspects of ourselves that we bring to the horse register  in the horse's mind and can influence his decision about how, where, if and when to move his body. These subtle effects on the horse also apply when the rider is mounted; they combine to become the foundation for solid advancement.

It is important to remember that most refined maneuvers can astonish onlookers into fantasizing about the handler or rider in terms of "horse-whispering" and "magic" but, actually, the horse's physical reactions are rooted in its instinctive ability to read a person's intentions clearly. The horse can read human intent and emotion better and faster than most people can read a line in a newspaper. 

The horse's capacity to optimize this incredibly intuitive aspect of his nature is his instinct for self-preservation.  His instinct for self-preservation is the key to everything that concerns him.  It is the key to understanding his ability to know who is around him, what other creatures may be near -- be it another horse or cow, a person, dog, wolf, or other natural enemy.  Self-preservation is the source of his ability to know what other beings are thinking or wanting him to do, expecting him to do, or fearing that he might or will do.  

I hope that all horse owners and trainers will soon decide to give top consideration to this aspect of the horse's inner makeup in their efforts to communicate with him clearly and fairly. I believe this is something anyone involved with a horse will benefit from learning especially if they also commit to using feel and release.

With feel-and-release-based training techniques and the right blend of philosophy and horse health-and-hoof care my students form very close bonds with their horses.  And, for those who already have established a partnership with their horses, these new connections are strengthened as the "same-old" routines are phased out and new communication skills and adventures are welcomed in.

As stand-alone goals, horse handling techniques mean little to the horse until they are presented in a way that the horse can understand. When you understand how your horse works on the inside and apply this knowledge in an incremental and consistent way, the foundation you set up becomes a reliable partnership.  When this happens, confidence replaces insecurity.  Clarity replaces confusion.

When the basics are a woven into the normal pace and details of its daily life -- not only a part of specific drills or boring routines -- the horse begins to recognize and understand the intent behind the feel coming from the person.  This gives him confidence and from there he is likely to stop questioning the person and to follow the feel of the person's lead and leadership.  

When these basics have become a regular practice, the connection between person and horse becomes stronger.   The resulting partnership is based on trust that extends far in both directions. Ultimately, in its refinement, the mutual trust and reciprocal feel between a horse and a person is part of a maneuver that is born the instant it is shared.

In most cases, it is necessary that the coach understand how to teach and how to apply feel in order for the student's relationship to his or her horse develop at the right pace and in the best way.  The student, meanwhile, must invest whatever time is needed to learn all there is to know about the specific needs of the horse.  This requires limitless patience.  

It is also important to be crystal clear about the importance of making mistakes.  

It is impossible to avoid mistakes. We all make them, so we must accept them.  In order to do this, we must cultivate a calm, non-judgmental attitude toward our mistakes.  It is vital that we begin to view errors as opportunities for growth, for greater closeness, and for an ever stronger bond.  Our calm, even eager, anticipation of the next mistake eases tension, soon transforming both the horse and the person in unexpected ways.  

I know this to be true from my own experience and when this happens, everything about the friendship is refreshed . . .  it becomes deeper and a lot more fun!


40 more Horse Adoption Centers will Receive Bill Dorrance's Message of Feel & Release before the end of 2014

We are chugging along in the Year of the HORSE, and they need you now! More than ever!!
Can you spare a few moments, and lend us a hand?

The following organizations received Leslie Desmond Learning Library in 2013.
We want to increase that number this year, if we can!

Khas T'an Horsemanship ( Prince George, BC, CANADA)

Carlos Mancera Esquival  (Santiago Tlapacoya, Pachuca, Hidalgo, MEXICO)

Perfect Fit Equine Rescue (Morgan Hill, California)

Sunshine Sanctuary for Kids and Horses (Los Molinos, California)

The Healing Ranch  (Agoura Hills, California)

Hoofprints on the Heart – now closed (Livermore, CA)

Therapeutic riding center of Huntington Beach (Huntington Beach, California)

Archway Foal Rescue & Training Operation (LaPorte, Colorado)

Dream Catcher's Equine Rescue (Fountain, Colorado)

Ruby Ranch Horse Rescue (Ramah, Colorado)

Triple Acres Horse Rescue, Inc. (Boone, Colorado)

Save the Horses  (Cumming, Georgia)

Trinity Rescue Inc.  (Acworth, Georgia)

Personal Ponies of Indiana (Cloverdale, Indiana)

Blue Horse Foundation (Foreston, Minnesota)

Cross Wind Ranch Spirit Riders (Fulton, Missouri)

Owl Hollow Farm  (Lone Jack, Missouri)

Borrowed Freedom Equine Assisted Therapies Program (Vestal, NY)

Rosemary Farm Sanctuary (S. Kortwright, New York)

Ketchum Roundup (Ketchum, Oklahoma)

Mustang to the Rescue (Redmond, Oregon)

Pacific Wild Horse Club (Gaston, Oregon)

Lonesome Dove Equine Protection (Godley, Texas)

Lost Creek Ranch Camp (Beldenville, Wisconsin)

Nature's Edge Therapy Center (Rice Lake, Wisconsin)


Your help is needed!  
Before the end of 2014, I plan to ship 40 copies of Bill Dorrance's book, "True Horsemanship Through Feel" (1999), and 40 complimentary 10-CD audio book sets "Horse Handling and Riding Through Feel" (2006) by Leslie Desmond to organizations that re-home horses and that help horses to help people.
Would you would take a moment to find out if this offer of educational materials would be useful to the staff and volunteers at a horse relocation, adoption or rescue center near you?

The Requirements are as follows: The organization must have 501 (3) (c) status, and be staffed primarily by volunteers. The organization's name, address and FEIN number must be included with the request, as well as contact details for the Board of Director's president and Manager/Director. I will provide the learning tools, staff time for packing and shipping. Would someone step up for the shipping? The postage to ship 25 sets in June 2013 was $468.00

And, would you let me know about other ways you have tried or heard of to either make, or encourage others to make contributions of time, goods, services and money available at the local level so the best possible future for America's horses, ponies and mules is ensured?!   

Would you consider becoming an Active Participant in the Education of Young Horse Lovers in your own backyard, using Bill Dorrance's tested and trusted "Feel & Release" approach to handling and riding horses?

Please send your contact details to Laura here: <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
Thank you,
Leslie Desmond
International School of Horsemanship, LLC
PO Box 1057  / Great Barrington, MA 01230 USA


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Apprenticeship Program set for 2015

The long awaited course materials and application for Leslie Desmond's 2015 - 2016 apprenticeship program will be ready on December 20th.  The proposed curriculum was circulated last month among Leslie's long-time students, other trainers, friends and close working associates in the US and abroad.  The feedback was very useful!

Excellent suggestions about the scope of the material to be covered in the 2-year program and the opportunity for students to bring their own horses were incorporated, as were suggestions for format and course size and cost.

The overview looks this way:

Course length: Two 3-week sessions per year for two years (2015-2016).

Class size: Limit 5 students per session.

Class format: 6 Days study, and one day off per week after basic chores are covered.

For details about cost, accommodations, format, and class options (there will be separate classes held for beginning/intermediate and advanced/training level students) write to Leslie here: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

Please include detailed contact information in your inquiry. (Email, phone, post address, full name and include short description of your ability level and/or reason you want the application so you receive the correct package.)

 Join the FB page here for quicker updates and other news from Leslie at:


Merry Christmas everyone! Happy holidays and Best wishes for the coming year! 

August 16 - 19, 2018 at Kalvefalls, Österbymo, SWEDEN

Leslie Desmond & Antonio Hidalgo

August 16 - 19, 2018

Hosted by

Kalvfalls Ranch / Österbymo, SWEDEN




Olle Forsell and Åsa Strandberg through Facebook (right here!) ;

Tel 0140-911 33, or via email  This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.







1.100 SEK  includes bed and all meals, Plus your horse. 

Just horse? (100 SEK per day)


CAMPERS WELCOME, Inquire about fee & details.



Bring your own horse, or rent a horse from Kalvefalls so you have the chance to participate in this VERY Special Event.

What makes it so special?

When you come to watch and learn, 

to train and ride,

to learn how to jump,

to improve your connection with your horse,

or to improve your flat work (stops, turns, lead changes, backing, lateral work, collection),

to get help fixing a problem (fear of trailers, water, being tied up), 

and improve a relationship with your horse (handling the feet, accepting the bit). . . you return


How does this happen in just a couple of days?


  It happens when you learn how to read your horse, and how to clearly teach

him to what you expect him to do, without resistance.



When your horse's hooves, teeth and topline are in the correct condition* 

he can behave in a way that reflects your better balance and timing.

Well educated hands do not create resistance in a horse. 


*During the evening sessions, you will learn some basic skills that will help you evaluate the evidence

your horse provides (through his movements, breathing, eyes, ears, appetite, urine and manure frequency and quality) about the condition of his

hooves, teeth, topline, mind and overall suitability for the jobs you want him to do, and the experiencesyou want to share with him.

FUN, FUN, and MORE FUN  is the best way to describe the experience of

learning more about how to read your horse accurately. 

Learn to avoid the little things you might be doing

that cause your horse to make the mistakes

and behavior you don't want.

Your tool box will expand immediately as you progress, 

and while your horse handling and riding goals

come into sharper focus more quickly than you ever imagined

possible. It will feel and and actually BE true, that your

horse and you have changed for the better.



People who like to TEACH A HORSE NEW SKILLS

will love this course!

Horses that enjoy TRAIL RIDES,


and JUMPING will also have a LOT of fun at  this course!




What will you learn?

Special Fitness and Safety Focus to prepare


well for long-term success as partners for any job.

Including recreational riding, excursions, and competition?


Yes,  Ja, , Oui, Aw, Uh-Huh, Igen, Joo, Tha, Tá,


Your horse's soundness for performance

and your safety are priority #1

The fee-scale  for this clinic is structured to fit most budgets.

It accommodate horses and riders with different  challenges and goals,

and offers the spectators a variety of learning options.

Schedule will be available and your riding tiumes will be emailed

to you on or before July 25.


Pre-registration closes July 15th.


OVERNIGHT ACCOMMODATIONS: For 1.000 SEK per day, ridersand spectators have all

meals included, and  sleepin clean, cozy and well constructed private, or shared, cabins.

Enjoy great food and share all meals with the riders and Leslie and Antonio in the dining hall.

There will be evening lecture and in-depth discussion on hoof care,

equine nutrition and learning to read a horse's bio-mechanics and body language after the meal.

Stabling for your horse is 100 SEK a night.

This fee and charges for meals and overnight accommodations can be paid directly to Olle Forsell.  

Book accommodation for yourself (1.000 includes bed and all meals!) and horse (100 SEK per day) by contacting Åsa Strandberg through Facebook at the highlighted link (right here!) or at tel 0140-911 33, or via email  This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Attendees at this upcoming short course will learn the "feel & release" approach horse handling and riding as taught to her by her late mentor, Bill Dorrance (1906 - 1999) from Salinas, California.

Leslie specializes in teaching students how to ride well and maintain balance at speed and on a variety of terrain. She helps her students to better understand and refine their "pressure and release" and "feel and release" skills, and to know when to use which technique for the best results in different situations and with different horses.

Antonio and Leslie will coach all attendees in the art of correctly "reading" (understanding) a horse in many difference circumstances. She will share her skills and approach to raising hoof care standards, and establishing / maintaining correct bio-mechanics for a strong topline. Soundness without drugs or riding at the expense of the horse's well being is the standard for Leslie & Antonio's events.

Taken together, the goals of this course will be achieved through the combination of demonstration, private coaching on Thursday and Saturday, and two-sessions of group instruction on the Friday and Sunday.  A daily schedule will be made available to all participants on July 25th.

Riders and spectators will all benefit from the in-depth discussions that arise from the frequent Q & A sessions (Question and Answer sessions) throughout the day. 

Spectators from the public are welcome to pre-register online, or pay cash at the door.


If you wish to partake in a delicious and healthy

LUNCH (1:30 - 3:30 PM)

as well as beverages contact Asa and Olle at the numbers provided here.

Two 1-hour pvt lessons 1,200 SEK

Full single day 2,450 SEK - includes 1 hr. private lesson, 2-hour group lesson (4).

Deposit for FULL (4-days) Rider position. Thursday, 1 July 2018  4,500 SEK


Balance Due for Pre-Registered (4-Days) Rider    Sunday, 15 July 2018   5,000 SEK

Spectator Day Passes 

1-day  100 SEK  for children 13 - 16 years old

1-day  450 SEK

2-days  800 SEK


3-days  1,200 SEK


4-days  1,500 SEK

For updates and event notices, please visit Leslie on Facebook and like the events and news pages!

Write to Leslie Desmond here: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.  / +1 6022287612

Write to Antonio Hidalgo here: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. /  + 34 629747527


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TEL: +34 629 747 527   /    EMAIL: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.