Horse trainer and clinician Linda Salinas calls it the “ah-ha moment,” when a client’s preconceptions and preoccupations are lifted away, like a veil, and human and horse begin working in harmony.

“When you’re so present, it naturally unfolds,” Salinas says. “The more present we are, the more open we are. When I see my client have that present moment awareness while working with a horse, it’s magical.”

A certified instructor in the Carolyn Resnick Method of natural horsemanship, Salinas will lead a clinic Aug. 4-6 at Return to Freedom’s satellite sanctuary in San Luis Obispo and its American Wild Horse Sanctuary in Lompoc, with ample time to view RTF’s resident herds.

Cost is $1,800 per person. Space is limited. To register, please click here.

Salinas first studied under Resnick about 10 years ago and has since led her own clinics around the world.

“Most methods that I know of are not necessarily relationship-based,” Salinas says. “Instead, you make a request to the horse until he gets it right, but that’s not a relationship.

“(Resnick’s method) is all about making this connection with a horse. We’ve got to make sure we’re on the same playing field as equals. Number one, the horse initiates everything, and, number two, he’s at liberty – so he has a say-so in how he wants to be trained or not trained.”

Salinas says that Resnick’s method — rooted in Resnick’s careful observation of wild horse behavior  — focusses on speaking a language that a horse will understand.

Says Salinas, “It’s my hope that (clinic participants) will gain a new perception of horses, that they’ll go home seeing that they can have an intimate relationship with their horse and they don’t need  tack, restraint, force or a closed environment. Despite not having any of those things, they can have a true intimate relationship.”

Learning from Resnick not only changed how Salinas saw her own horses, it influenced her interactions with other people. With 55 million years of experience, horses have plenty to teach us about survival, adapting to change and communication within a community, she says.

“I’m constantly watching my horses,” she says. “They’re so clear about their boundaries and their manners within the herd. Once they work out their pecking order, they live in harmony. If they can live in harmony, why can’t we?”