Klaus Ferdinand Hempfling is the most beautiful man on or off a horse that I have ever seen. I do not mean “sexiest man alive” beautiful, but lovely in his ability to be with a horse – beautiful in the connection. His work with a horse on the ground is an extraordinary dance improvisation. His movement is neither predator nor prey, but has a deep, grounded athleticism like a kind of running tai chi.
When I first saw this video (below), I thought how wonderful it would be to be able to run with Nelson, the formerly wild Mustang. So yesterday we went out into the big field and did our walking dance: me asking him to move around me in a circle and then come back to me. This is all at liberty, no halter or lead rope and in a six acre field. Just small hand signals. So far so good.
Then I started running. I wanted him to see me running, but not be afraid. So I ran away from him. He looked mystified, but not particularly alarmed. I walked back to him and petted him, then I ran away again. This went on for a bit.
Then I said, “OK, you run.” I have been hesitant to ask him to run because in the past he would run AWAY and then our time together is finished for that day. But this time he ran, head up, tail flagging, but with one eye on me. And when I did that little signal with my hand by my side, he circled and came back. We hung out together and then I asked him to run again. And again he came back.
I am no Klaus, but I was pretty happy with that dance. And Nelson seemed pretty happy too. Two animals working out together how to go and come back, how to run and be connected. And all of that makes me a very happy horse dancer.
Here is the master: