Working Wisdom for Authentic Empowerment in an Artificial World
Ireland’s Equestrian magazine said “he is more horse then human”. In France, his publisher says he’s written the bible on horsemanship.
From standing room only University lectures, to training the trainers in horsemanship, Therapeutic Riding and Equine Assisted Coaching, Chris Irwin is the most innovative leader working with horses today.
Horse & Rider magazine said, “nobody explains the horse human relationship better then Chris Irwin.” Hall of Fame Jockey, Sandy Hawley, said, “Absolutely amazing! I wish I could’ve ridden a Chris Irwin horse.” But Leif Hallberg best sums up his creative genius in her tome, Walking The Way Of The Horse, by proclaiming that Chris Irwin’s Insights are “bold and possibly the most useful and impactful concepts presented in any book”.
Surprisingly, renowned horseman, personal coach and international best-selling author, Chris Irwin, did not grow up with horses.
His was an often frightening and painful childhood in an abusive home in a dangerous neighborhood. And yet, determined to overcome his environment by pursuing excellence, by the age of 14 Chris had achieved the highest levels in scouting and was winning music contests with his guitar. At 16, Chris won the gold medal in rowing at the Royal Canadian Henley Regatta and was aspiring to compete at the Olympics.
But Canada boycotted the 1980 Olympics. And Chris, feeling frustrated, angry and betrayed, at 17, ran away to the Rocky Mountains to hike, play guitar and learn to ski. He was searching for something to believe in that nobody could harm or take away from him. Two years later he learned from a friend that work could be found at Long Acres racetrack in Seattle.
The moment he saw the horses, Chris knew he’d found what he was looking for.
After just a few months at the track, Chris went back to Canada to explore driving with harness draft horses. Next he journeyed south to find work as a cowboy where it was the wild mustangs of Nevada that taught Chris how to work “smart like a horse”. A decade later he had trained 18 U.S. National Champions with wild mustangs in both riding and driving competitions.
And yet, long before the horses, survival as a child had depended upon his awareness for body language to know when to safely advance into, or retreat out of, a difficult situation. Scouting taught him to “think out of the box” for problem solving and to work creatively within his environment. Music refined his ability to stay focused in the moment, manage performance anxiety and remain conscious of his breathing. Rowing demanded extreme strength and endurance while remaining supple, flexible and balanced, moving in perfect harmony with the waves and other rowers in the boat.
Chris Irwin emphasizes that sailing and equestrian are the only Olympic sports where men and women compete against each other. This is a key concept because sailors can’t control the wind or the waves. A sailor can only control how he or she responds to the changing energies of the wind and waves.
Likewise, the Spirit in horses must naturally resist human attempts to control them with force. And yet, most horses give themselves willingly and gratefully to people who learn instead to control their own responses to the challenges coming from the horse.
From equestrian training to executive coaching, mentoring for disadvantaged youth, resiliency workshops for 1st Responders and Military Veterans, to therapeutic, wellness programs, and even the prison system, the scope and impact of Irwin Insights are reaching far beyond the horse industry. As the Toronto Star wrote: “Chris Irwin is a man on a mission – to change the way we communicate with each other; one horse at a time”.