Mark Russell was the consummate horseman. It had been quite difficult to describe the depth and breadth of his understanding of the horse. Evidence of it emerged when one watched him approach the horse. A subtle communication, a touch on the neck, or as one student stated of her horse: “she just melted in his hand”. One would think that is was the beginning, but for Mark, the connection developed some time before the rest of us had noticed.
A master of equine biomechanics, a former student of Master Oliveira, a practitioner of the nearly forgotten Classical Teachings of the past, an expert in and occasional critic of interpretations of Natural Horsemanship constructs, a beneficiary of the wisdom of Tai-Chi and Chi Gong; all scratched the surface of Mark’s knowledge. Even to the end he continued as a perpetual student of the human and horse. His many layers of experience and insights culminated into a wisdom which seemed boundless.
For Mark, each path deepened the understanding of the other. Mark was unique indeed; his quiet energy, his calm demeanor, his wealth of knowledge, all expressed while he was with Horse and while educating both horse and rider made him a popular teacher and clinician.
Mark Russell’s credits included authoring the highly acclaimed book “Lessons in Lightness: the Art of Educating the Horse” with a posthumous expanded edition published in 2019. In 2014 he released his first educational DVD “Lessons in Lightness: Building the Horse’s Foundation In Hand”, he was featured in the DVD “Riding with Chi: Your Pathway to Energy Mastery”, and he had been featured in a variety of equine journals.
“Maestro”, as many of Mark’s students fondly called him, was killed in a riding accident on June 12th, 2016. The accident occurred during a ‘perfect storm’ of several variables that came to pass at that moment in time. Mark was known to those that are qualified to judge, as one of the world’s best horsemen. However Mark would consistently argue this point adding that he had much to learn on his journey.
After his departure Mark had signaled to a friend who was open to hearing him, that his “work here on Earth was done”. Another friend later shared that Mark's work was “only beginning”. It is in this spirit that I, Mark’s wife, student of 15 years, partner, and ally, am working to assure Mark’s teachings do not die with his physical body. This will take some time and some concentrated work. Updates will be posted here and on Mark’s Facebook page. This website will be maintained as is posthumously, and will undergo changes as they come along. ∼ Hela Russell October 2nd, 2016