Meet Elaine Heney

The award-winning documentary film-maker from Ireland

Hi, I’m Elaine Heney. I'm a film producer, and director of the award-winning movie docu-series 'Listening to the Horse'. I live in Ireland with my three horses. 

My mission is to help horse owners around the world to listen to their horses and build a great partnership together. I regularly run free horsemanship summits, workshops and training to make great horsemanship accessible to all worldwide, and make the world a better place for the horse. I also work with a very small group of incredible horsemen & women whose work I help amplify. 

As a child in Ireland, I grew up believing that every horse should be treated with kindness and patience. And every time we ride or train our horses, we should aim to improve their physical and mental health.
I wanted to share what I believe are the 23 characteristics of a great horseman/woman🐴


➡️ We understand that our greatest judge is our horse. So we put our horse’s physical and mental health first, regardless of what anyone else might say.

➡️ We take as long as it takes, and we appreciate the power of time and patience.

➡️ We aim to be open minded, curious, consistent patient and kind, and understand improving our horsemanship journey is a lifelong journey

➡️ We recognise the try, no matter how slight.

➡️ We don’t use shortcuts, quick fixes, gadgets, draw reins, tie our horses heads down or tie their mouths shut.

➡️ We never place competition goals above our horse’s health.

➡️ We don’t pull on our horses, because we understand that it creates tension, bracing and negatively influences their balance.

➡️ We don’t ride long and low or forward down, because we know how bad it is for our horses long term health, when they are ridden with a lot of weight on the forehand

➡️ We understand collection is not a head position, and cannot be achieved by pulling hard on the reins, draw reins, rollkur or other physically damaging approaches

➡️ We understand that collection is a shift of weight from the forequarters to the hindquarters

➡️ We know that self-carriage means that the horse does it by himself.

➡️ We believe that groundwork builds relaxation, partnership and relaxation.

➡️ We are proud to walk with our horses and we know that every mile counts.

➡️ We know that true horsemanship begins with relaxation and confidence

➡️ We understand the importance of riding and training our horses in a way that will improve their long term physical health.

➡️ We believe true horsemanship is an art-form, that develops softness, lightness and true connection, and we follow the traditions that honor this.

➡️ We live in the present, stay emotionally neutral, with an open mind and a desire to understand.

➡️ We allow our horses time to evolve at their own pace

➡️ We appreciate there are often differences between what the rider wants and what the horse needs.

➡️ We accept the fact that the horse has more to teach us than we will ever teach them.

➡️We acknowledge that a horse’s body is only physically mature at a minimum of 5.5 years of age, and the back is the last part to develop. So we don’t ride 2 or 3 years olds.

➡️ We understand that older horses are not disposable and it’s our duty to care for them in their last years

➡️ We are aware that developing a horse correctly through balance, timing and feel takes years and they are at their performance peak at 12+ years of age.

➡️ We are prepared to quieten our minds, in order to hear our horses, however quietly they are speaking.

➡️ And we understand horsemanship is a never-ending journey and we always must put the horse first

➡️ We support each other on our individual journeys, and value the wonderful friendships we create along the way.

Learn more:

Facebook group: If you’d like to learn more about our work & how we put the horse first, join our facebook group at:

Contact Elaine:

Listening to the Horse (award-winning 7 part docu-series)

'Listening to the Horse' is a 7 part docu-series, featuring over 70 of the worlds top horse people, including Mark Rashid, Jim Masterson, Steve Halfpenny, Dr. Robert Miller, Warwick Schiller, Guy McLean, Jeff Sanders, Karen Rohlf, Lester Buckley, Kim Walnes, Eitan Beth-Halachmy and many others. 

To the person who is about to judge.. 

..the woman with the skinny, underweight horse. Did you know this horse was rescued at an auction three weeks ago, in a horrible condition? That she has already spent $$$$ on vet and dentist visits since then? That this horse has already started to gain weight? That this horse greets her everyday with a gentle nicker, and is growing in confidence every day they are together? 

..the girl who’s always at the yard with her horse, rain or shine. Did you know that she is being bullied at work by her boss? Did you know that spending time with her horse is her way to get away from it all? That being with her horse is her way of surviving?

.. the girl who hasn’t ridden her three year old mare yet. Did you know that even though her barn friends sneer at her, she refuses to ride her horse this year and instead will wait at least another year or longer, while doing groundwork instead? Did you know that she knows that the earliest a horse’s back is fully mature is 5.5 years of age at the minimum? Did you know how much it hurts to be the ‘odd one out’ when everyone else at her barn is already riding their 2 and 3 year olds?

..the girl who never canters her horse. Did you know that she started riding again recently for the first time in 24 years? That owning her first ever horse is a lifelong dream come true? That she regularly feels scared and nervous before she rides, but she tacks up anyway? Did you know that every day a tiny piece of her worry disappears?

..the girl walking on foot beside her horse. Did you know that this horse can no longer be ridden? That he retired due to health issues? Did you know that he loves his daily walks? That he feels valued and special on these walks? Did you know that by spending that time with her horse, it has helped this girl cope with a very nasty divorce and toxic home environment?

..the girl doing groundwork with her horse in the arena. Did you know that she has learned that true collection will help improve her horse’s long term physical health, and that is doesn't include forcing your horse to hold an unnaturally low head position? That she committed to begin teaching her horse shoulder out and in on the ground, because it is one of the best ways to begin collection with her horse?

.. the girl who uses a bitless bridle. Did you know that when a bit is put into her horses mouth, it hits off her horse’s canine teeth and causes him pain? Or that that since she switched to a bitless bridle, her horse has become much more relaxed and happy? Did you know that even though she can't compete in local shows anymore, that she will never put a bit in her horse’s mouth again?

So, to the person who is about to judge.. Don’t.

Elaine Heney
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