KNOWING and HELPING HORSES in the 21st Century -- online coaching


in the 21st Century


Online coaching for 12-weeks

4 live demonstrations

homework, video review and phone consultation 

will help you understand horses a lot better


Hill Top Polo

245 Wells Hill Road

Lakeville, CT 06039


This is a 36-week custom course envisioned and created for you with the current and future needs of the horse, and your goals for them in mind.  Leslie will assist you along the way towards refinement in your judgement, timing and technique, and a better connection to horses.
During our time together, and following your lead when necessary, we hope to 
delve into the relevant topics for each student as deeply as time reasonably allows 
within the limits of the online coaching format. 




Topics to be covered in Part 1.



Your ability to Read the Horse, once developed, will show you how to recognize the signs and signals horses need you to recognize in order to break old patterns that do not serve either of you well, and to develop a keen eye.

Topics covered will include how to: “read” a horse’s soundness and recognize balance and imbalanced locomotion; accurately perceive the moods; quickly spot the signs of health (including hooves, teeth and gut health); observe and practice many life-saving aspects of practical safety; avoid misunderstandings about equine intelligence; assess a horse's suitability for specific work; learn how to sense, see and respond well to the "inner horse", and know when horses reveal or suppress their intrinsic natures and primal instincts.

The topic will cover the way horses do and don’t communicate with us about their needs, fears and comprehension. Students will learn to recognize the difference between learned behavior and instinct, and how to help aggressive horses mellow out, as they increase the confidence of others within the same herd or social environment (e.g., horses that are neighbors in the stable, school horses that are uncomfortable around certain other horses in the same confined area.)



 Developing adjustable responses (yours and the horse's).
This is a goal to develop intentionally while your powers of observation and awareness improve.
 As the changes in your feel and timing begin to reflect your expanded awareness, new knowledge and better skills,
your capacity to observe more clearly and rely on a more effective thoughts will be evident. 
Growth and positive changes occurring at deeper levels tend to support refinement in a broad range of personal habits.

[NOTE: Logically, and sometimes ironically, the outcome ultimately depends on a long list of seemingly unrelated elements, feelings, ideas, histories, emotions, details and tendencies that these prejudicial influences just mentioned actually "depend on."  Now, good people, be it known: by no means was this offered as a disclaimer...more likely a rarely insight into my sense of well-aged humor.]

3. KNOWING a HORSE vs. KNOWING ABOUT a HORSE  / The Feel of a Horse
Introduction and study of the horse's anatomy and behavior, locomotion, and mental setup.
In my view, each one of these topics warrants the immediate publication of an accurate encyclopedia, due to its singular importance and complexity when taken together with the things that make a whole horse, a whole horse. It is the inter-related aspects of these physical and less tangible parts that fascinate and attract me.  
At any given time of day, my thoughts fail to resist a similar pull that often produces a swift, unplanned trip to a place so close to where the illusive ways  and interplays between these things seem to morph them into a sort of 
impermeable gel-in-residence that clogs up the exquisitely designed inner workings of a horses. And so, for 55 years I have wondered hard about the connection we have to the horses kept inside too much, pastured alone.


In discussions about architecture, design and construction projects it is easy to see that form follows function. 

That seems to be true for horses and people, as well. 
Coincidentally, function also follows form when we are talking about animate physical structures. 
[For example: a set of shoes is not changed on a stalled horse for a few months, 
and he suddenly has an “unexplainable” shoulder pain, a stifle incident, and palpable lumbar weakness; or, 
won't strike off at a lope, or run with the herd the way he did before. 


For this reason, and some related but less obvious reasons, many horses in regular use today are 
lame (unsound), stiff, diseased.  More horses than many people might imagine are dying slowly from poor gut 
function and other metabolic issues --  unbeknownst to the owners or custodians.
 It's an avoidable shame, and we are doing something about it!


Too many horse-loving people care for horses and ponies, mules and donkeys who have not (YET!)
learned how to recognize early signs of big trouble ahead.
By slowing down and taking small steps, together, we are changing this.

Early detection of unsoundness and its probable cause(s) is more likely to resolve well, with a positive impact on the long-term outcome. Among other important skills to cultivate during this time, you will be shown how to distinguish between unsoundness that is a result of form following function.  For example, changes in the topline from long term stall rest or confinement after a fracture, hoof troubles, surgery or sprains, etc. vs. pain, stiffness, and inflammation etc. that occurs when dysfunction follows changes in the body (the "form") that has been documented and lamented for centuries, as a matter of fact, stemming from overwork, under-use, misuse, grief, excessive loud sounds, hoof pain, systemic inflammation, long periods of not being understood or knowing what is expected, poor water and air, parasites, ill-fitting equipment, loneliness, long-term stress / anxiety from a long list of sources etc.)



Our course for participants with horses and auditors hinges on the establishment of a "buddy system". My adaptation of the concept is to request that you work together closely in pairs (or 3 or 4) from the start of the course. Picking Partners and/or or creating small sub-group(s) among you to facilitate communication, and deeper understanding of the horse's known aspects is advised.


We will talk over a process for this...and nominated or self-assigned team captains can step up for this organizational 
process, if desired!  If someone prefers to study alone, that is also fine, understood and respected. 
The buddy system isn't for everyone, after all.




We can will discuss the best way to do this during our visit today.
Wednesday, October 27, 2021 (1:00 – 3:30 PM  / NY, NY EST.)

Curriculum guidelines are exactly this: a guideline. Adjustments are inevitable when it comes to attempts at mastery on any skill, art or body of knowledge.... and the more so when a person is trying  learn and/ or teach  counter-intuitive concepts and feel-based techniques!   So, we can decide to remain flexible in order to preserve a learning frame of mind - our own mind, the minds of our students, and the horses' minds too. 

That's what I do, anyway, and I do it because horses are super-strong, agile, fast, intelligent,
heart-based, decision-making power centers . . .  that people like to sit on.    

No two people are the same, and no two horses are the same.
No two creatures feel or think or learn in exactly the same way, either.

When the need to adjust is recognized, that's the best time to start planning to make a shift. This is a custom course, and modifications to your goals and learning curve will be suggested, and/or implemented to fit you and your horse.  I will discuss this with each student after the application and questionnaires are carefully completed, and received. 


Here are some examples: 


--What changes in diet, exercise and accommodations should I make -- for myself and the horse!?  
I live in the city and don't own a horse.
Unfortunately, I get very little exercise, and I don't like to exercise either, to tell the truth.
Twice a month I drive 3 hours round trip to ride a rented horse in the countryside.
I'm too heavy, and I think he is too. I have no idea if the tack fits, and I doubt anyone
 there wants me to ask, or involve myself in decisions about his welfare or daily care.

--What will I learn from this course, and will I learn enough?
Do you know answer you would like to hear?
 Do you know the origin of this question?
And, do you know what this has to do with refining your feel with a horse?
Or, for that matter,  anything else concerning a horse?

--Halter, bridle and saddle fit: generally and specifically.
(I have only second-hand equipment and I don't know where to start. 
Is there a way to ride her bit-less and bareback, and still have an acceptable experience? ) 

--What should I do?
I really cannot afford the time to take this course. But the horses tell me I cannot afford not to take it. 

--Approaching, catching and releasing your horse
( I have a bad back and I always  catch my horses with sweet feed. Can I take your course? Will I fit in?)

-- Bi-lateral handling
(I like leading from the left side of the horse and my horse does too. I don't think we need to make this adjustment after all these years. Can I decide later if I will do this? Is it necessary to purchase a halter from you?)


--Managing hoof care, understanding Equine mental health and physical soundness.




Some important questions can be asked to help someone become a better horseman / woman.

Try your hand at the answers, just for fun!  


Do I have to . . . 
--Quit patting my horse's nose? Reason:  I think he will miss the attention.
--Stop feeding my horses grain? They LOVE IT!
--Turn out every single day?
Why is this (anything) done, or not done ? 
--I always blanket my horse. Not OK?
-- I never use a whip. Is that wrong?
--I hate going to parties. What's wrong with that?
--I never let anyone else ride my horse, and was told that I am spoiling him. Do you agree?
--Administration of daily wormer? I don't want to feed him this but everyone else at the barn 
says I should.  Now what?  Exactly, now what?

Why is it done, and when? These and many other important questions can be raised at any point, and discussed in 
your respective groups or with your study partners. Participants are welcome to bring the details to Wednesday class!




It is important to know when too much of the horse has been removed from the horse's operating system. It is equally relevant to know what to do, when and how, in order to set the stage for healing in ways the horse can understand and use easily. 


A warm welcome to everyone!

Leslie Desmond and Antonio Hidalgo, co-founders, Feel of a Horse and supporters of the Feel of a Horse Legacy Project. 
This project and out international school for continuing education were inspired by the horses we love and care for, and the life and teachings of master horseman and rancher, Bill Dorrance (1906-1999) of Salinas, California.


Many thanks for stopping in today!


On the Horizon!
Topics to be covered in Part 2

Topics to be covered in Part      





Feel and release in the demo format:  $160 for 4 days.

Scroll down to get tickets!


You will be amazed, and have fun, and leave with tools you can

start using and having success with the very next day.



 Horses of all breeds and intermediate - advanced riders from all disciplines are welcome to participate.  


 Make the most of this chance to learn "feel &  release"  from Leslie. This is a philosophy, a treasured set of techniques, and a wonderful way to approach a horse.

  The reason your horse understands "feel & release" is because it is the horse's language!  Leslie will demonstrate and explain the techniques so you can start experimenting and practicing with your horse using these tools when you get home.

As your capacity to accurately interpret your horse's behaviours and movements increases, your partnership will develop another dimension. In time, your intent and the shared reality will be the same experience, and a seamless sense of "oneness" with your horse will feel quite normal. Put "feel & release" to work for you!




Saturday, February  4th

Saturday, February 11th


Morning Demonstrations

9:30 - 11:00  1st Horse

11: - 12:30    2nd Horse

12:30 - 2:00   LUNCH

2:00 - 3:30  3rd Horse

3:30 - 5:00  4th Horse

Leslie co-authored the classic horse training manual, 'True Horsemanship Through Feel' with horseman and rancher, Bill Dorrance of Salinas, CA (1906 - 1999). Leslie will demonstrate and explain how to release your horse to any maneuver using Feel & Release Techniques that were shown and taught to Leslie during her 4-year apprenticeship Bill Dorrance.


(Note to Juniors! Leslie welcomes kids, teens and young adults 16 and under to attend her US clinics at no charge.)

The "feel and release" approach to preparing a light, reliable and happy horse on the ground, and under saddle, does not require special equipment to obtain a range of unusually impressive results -- results not acheievd using most popular methods. Come and see for yourself!  Leslie has adapted Bill Dorrance's approach to handling and riding hroses in a program that enhances work with all breeds and riding styles.

 Come and learn how Leslie achieves this with her students! You can bring these simple lessons to your horse and start enjoying a happier and better-balanced horse the very next day. Does this sound useful? Exciting? It is both!

In a few hourse this easy-to-understand (and follow!) set of exercises will be yours to experiment and practice with, and for you and your horse to genuinely enjoy!


SATURDAY, February 4, 2017 Auditor Pre-pay / $45.00 


SATURDAY, February 11, 2017 Auditor Pre-pay / $45.00 


"THE SATURDAYS" February 4 &11, 2017 Auditor Pre-pay / $80.00 




   and save $100 when you enroll for both Saturdays!



SATURDAY, February. 4, 2017 PARTICIPANT HORSE / $200.00 


SATURDAY, February. 11, 2017 PARTICIPANT HORSE / $200.00 


"THE SATURDAYS" February. 4 & 11, 2017  PARTICIPANT HORSE / $300.00 



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Leslie no longer holds clinics, and will retire from public coaching at the end of 2017.  

Private instruction and horse training can be scheduled by the week or month.

Flexible rates and terms! Call or write for a quote that fits your particular situation. 




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Thank you!