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Training for the Future: Can Horsemanship Improve Us as well as Horses?

Updated: Apr 22

horse whisperer kelly marks

Kelly Marks needs very little introduction. Thanks to the work she has done with Monty Roberts and forming Intelligent Horsemanship in 1999 horse owners and lovers now have a much better understanding and appreciate for how horse’s think and behave.

Intelligent Horsemanship allows Kelly to combine her three favourite things; horses, writing and supporting others in their equestrian journey. She is incredibly proud of everything Intelligent Horsemanship has achieved and loves getting feedback from IH trainers and clients.

“I’ve also met so many interesting people through Intelligent Horsemanship – Gillian being one of them! We hit it off straight away and I’m delighted to support the Horses Inside Out conference and connect with other people,” says Kelly.

For horses to thrive it is crucial for them to have the best start. Having an understanding of horsemanship, learning how horses think and being in tune with their natural instincts will allows us to train with feeling and empathy. Ensuring these horses get off on the right track in their careers - whatever that may be is vital for their welfare. Who better to come and boost our knowledge on this topic than Kelly Marks.

It will be Kelly’s first appearance as a speaker at the Horses Inside Out Conference in February. She will be talking about; Training for the Future: Can Horsemanship Improve Us as well as Horses?

What is Horsemanship?

This term that is used a lot can mean different things to different people.

“To me horsemanship is that old stud hand who can manage any horse on the yard without drama or showiness,” says Kelly. “This feel, talent – call it what you like used to be passed on almost by osmosis, the younger people absorbing it from their elders.”
kelly marks loading horses with problems
Another happy loader!

The courses that are run at Intelligent Horsemanship aim to help you understand and breakdown all the elements of horsemanship. Talking about what visitors can expect from her presentation at the Horses Inside Out Conference, Kelly says.

“There’s a definite question mark behind this title because there’s no evidence that being around horses makes you a ‘nice’ or ‘better’ person. However, if humans pay attention to the possibilities there are many lessons to learn from the skills of horsemanship.

Some are obvious and some may never have crossed people’s mind before. I am very much looking forward to presenting this topic and the conference.”

How it all Began

Horses have been a big part of Kelly’s life. Her father was a racehorse trainer but that doesn’t mean things came easily. To afford to compete in show jumping Kelly and her elder sister, who made the plans and drove the horsebox, had to sell on the ponies she rode.

“We had some super ponies including, Piper and Noddy, who won BSJA championships before going on to other homes,” says Kelly. “I had some really nice horses too and won at Hickstead and qualified for Wembley (HOYS) for the Young Riders.”

When her sister got married, Kelly went into racing and rode 25 winners over hurdles against professionals and on the flat in Amateur races.

“I rode over some Grand National fences in the film ‘Champions’ as there was a lady jockey in the race at the time Bob Champion and Aldaniti won.

“My best wins were on Crackling at the Group 1 course Newbury and my last two race day was the European Ladies Championship in Bratislava/Vienna in 1995.

This was after I’d made the decision not to hit a horse in a race ever again.

On the first day I came 1st and 3rd and on the second day I went to see the horse I was to ride in the parade ring, if this was a blind date it would be like George Clooney turning up. Talk about love at first sight. He carried me to win by over 10 lengths. I still wear the watch I won in the championship and decided to retire from race riding that day.”

champion rider kelly marks
Kelly on Pie winning the Pro/Am BHS TREC at Royal Windsor

Kelly’s horse, Pie – the poster boy for the Monty demos and her books was the first horse she got to keep. They have been together for 23 years now.

“He came on the Stage at the National Theatre appearing with Joey ‘the War Horse’. We won the Royal Windsor Pro/Am Trec competition and he has generally been a huge bonus in my life.”

The Horsemanship Journey

Kelly first got to watch Monty Roberts when he visited a racehorse trainer – she found it fascinating.

“There were only a few of us sat on straw bales watching,” says Kelly. “My Dad said afterwards ‘That’s the world’s greatest horseman!’ It’s what I’ve been telling you all along!’ To be fair Dad had always told me about not looking horses in the eye when you want them to come forward.”

It wasn’t until a chance meeting in a petrol station in France that Kelly got to talk to Monty. When he next came to England Kelly did the initial editing of his book ‘The Man Who Listens to Horses’ and helped with racehorses who were frightened by the starting stalls.

“Monty’s attitude was revolutionary at the time,” explains Kelly. “I remember him annoying a top showjumper at the time because he disagreed with ‘you have to admit every horse needs a good hiding once in a while’. At that time it was never considered horses could be in pain and horses being described as ‘naughty’ was the least of it.”

From there it just grew. It was HM Queen Elizabeth II who first suggested Monty wrote a book and had courses for students. The original courses were put together by Kelly, Monty and Ian Vandenberge, who was a colleague of Kelly’s at West Oxfordshire College.

The rest – as they say is history. Over the last 30 years Kelly has done around 500 live demonstrations all around the world and she continues to inspire people to learn more about how horse’s tick to improve our relationship with them.

vous about clipping solving problems kelly marks horsemanship
Preparing a previously frightened horse to accept clippers

For the Good of the Horse

The Horses Inside Out Conference is two-days of amazing guest speakers who will be presenting the latest research and thinking connected to the growth and development of horses. You can join us in person or online - it really is an unmissable event.....

Horse science conference experts, cpd e-learning
intelligent horsemanship

To learn more about Kelly's work and her fabulous offerings head to the Intelligent Horsemanship website.

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Thank you so much for this lovely write up!

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