Sylvia Zerbini to teach clinic at Horse Spirit Ranch


Last updated 5/3/2019 at 2:01am

Courtesy photo

Sylvia Zerbini works with a rider and horse.

BONSALL – Sylvia Zerbini returns to Bonsall to teach a clinic Saturday, June 1, and Sunday, June 2, at Horse Spirit Ranch, 3712 Valle Del Sol, in Bonsall.

There is a distinct romance that is displayed by famous "Cavalia's Odysseo" star Sylvia Zerbini and her "equine guys" – 16 striking Arabian stallions and geldings, during their Grand Liberte performances throughout North America, Europe and Australia. Each of the horses performs their part of the synchronized dance in proper sequence at liberty, coordinating their movements with the other horses under Zerbini's ballet-like direction. She moves with the posture of a dancer and years of finely tuned skills that have been mastered to create her equine orchestra.

Sylvia Zerbini will share her knowledge with clinic participants and a large class of auditors at Horse Spirit Ranch in Bonsall. Like an orchestra conductor, she "engages" her horses by applying "energy" expressed through eye contact with each individual horse and provides verbal cues using vocal words with different tones along with body language. During a performance, her stare can stop a stallion from biting another horse.

Her philosophy is that "sticks and whips" aren't necessary to make a horse move in a desired direction. She teaches music like tones associated with energy and how to express the intensity of energy levels through our body in a manner that resonates with each horse. Whether the horse is cooperative or stubborn, inexperienced or trained in a discipline, young or old, the "secret sauce" in her communication is carried through the use of constant eye contact, which she calls "silent language." Zerbini bases her success on what she observed at a young age that horses in pasture were always communicating through eye contact and warning cues. Likewise, she offers the horse in training, two warnings before taking direct action that makes the horse move. Just as quickly, she takes the pressure off when the horse responds. In a clinic setting, she takes each participant and their horse through the consistent steps toward synergistic communication that is mutually understood.

It might sound simple and basic, but to get a rider's body to move without cutting off the horse's forward motion as they stand in the center of the arena is not easy. She teaches them to keep eye contact allowing the horse to relax with reduced pressure and vocal commands and then reward with a gentle stroke on the shoulder and a good horse tone or word. Often, Zerbini removes the horse on the arena to work with the student with role play and her physical direction until the person's mind meets body language. While observing the lessons of others, students learn more tips on reinforcement and the mistakes they commonly make; most notably, to mix up the routine so it doesn't become a habitual pattern and to pre-anticipate a horse stopping or slowing down in an arena corner and using energy to push it along. The most common error was waiting too long to draw in the horse toward the center and being able to partner while walking with energy coming to a complete stop together. The goal is to make all of the gait transitions on the correct lead using these skills. To sum up, if the student loses their eye contact, they lose their horse's attention which leads to frustration.

To register for the clinic, email [email protected] or mail a check payment to Horse Spirit Ranch, P.O. Box 185, San Luis Rey, CA 92068. PayPal payments are also accepted; send them to [email protected] Space is limited.

For more information on Sylvia Zerbini, visit Facebook or

Submitted by Horse Spirit Ranch.


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