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S1E5 Warwick Schiller on the importance of mindfulness, building a connection with your horse, and the Donkey Kong Principle

Warwick Schiller helps thousands of people around the world with their horses through his training videos, active Facebook group, and clinics. Warwick has a special talent of communicating with people, most often with perfectly clever analogies, so that they can better understand the principles behind his lessons. He is also an accomplished reining trainer, and will, again, be representing Australia in the 2018 World Equestrian Games. In this episode, Warwick talks to us about the principles of horsemanship, the importance of mindfulness when working with or showing our horses, and the benefit of building the horse-human relationship.


Key Takeaways:

  • Put your hand down: let your horse make a mistake so you can find the real problems, and the right solutions
  • Making mistakes is how you learn.
  • Practice and perfect the basics, before moving on. When you have a problem, look to the beginning and fix the basics.
  • Mindfulness and being in the moment, without expectations, is critical.
  • Taking the time to build a connection and relationship with your horse, can often get you a lot further
  • Be open minded, learn from other people and disciplines, and do what works for you


Show Notes:

  • [01:04] – Growing up riding in Australia
  • [01:40] – The passion for horses, then and now. How horses feel like home, and make you a better person.
  • [03:33] – How working with horses is a form of meditation
  • [04:02] – From banker to trainer. How horses turned into a lifelong profession  
  • [05:04] – Working for Don Murphy, and coming back to get the girl
  • [07:29] – Learning the lessons of showing and training a great horse
  • [09:09] – When a horse can tell whether you’re riding and showing with confidence
  • [12:02] – The personality of this great horse, going back to the beginning to fix a problem, and why the little things matter the most
  • [14:03] – A turning point, and why letting your horse make mistakes is critical to improving
  • [16:55] – An intro to the principles of training
  • [17:58] – What’s happening this year and taking the time to absorb lessons
  • [20:15] – Understanding the principles behind horsemanship and the why
  • [24:01] – Looking to horsemanship lessons as a way to improve reining training techniques, and how the principles are the same across all disciplines
  • [26:43] – Taking care of big problems, with the basics and The Donkey Kong Principle. Taking two steps back and three steps forward.
  • [31:14] – Knowing when your horse is ready to leave the first steps behind
  • [34:33] – Finding the right mentality and how expectations are the root of frustrations
  • [40:26] – 10 year old girl training. Why building a connection with your horse is important part of riding and how it can get you further
  • [44:15] – Getting out of your own sandbox and learning from other disciplines
  • [45:24] – Preparing for the World Equestrian Games, or any show, and learning to not care what other people think
  • [48:33] – Doing what works for you, no matter who is around
  • [49:51] – The best advice ever given: put your hand down!
  • [50:56] – What’s next


Learn more about Warwick Schiller on his website, YouTube Channel and Facebook Group.

About the Author, Kaitlyn Hurst

About Kaitlyn

Marketer by profession. Horsewoman at heart.

"I grew up riding, breeding and competing on American Quarter Horses in reining and reined cow horse. I believe that all successes are the result of a partnership between the horse, rider and their mentors.

Finding The Feel is a passion project combining both of my worlds"


  1. Yvonne Schouten on 05/29/2018 at 4:40 PM

    THIS is simply the BEST most AWESOME interview!!! Need to listen to it more than once, way too many subjects and points in there to take in, digest, and keep in mind !!! Thank you Warwick Schiller and Robyn Schiller for sharing! I have been following Warwick since
    December 2012 and been to a few clinics in Arizona. What a Journey!!!!

  2. janet freeland on 05/29/2018 at 11:54 PM

    So So love listening to Warwick!!! Thank you for having him on!!! Thank you for being there Warwick!!

  3. Aaron Basil on 06/05/2018 at 1:17 PM

    Great interview – definitely worth the listen!

  4. Lindsey Yamauchi on 02/24/2019 at 3:53 PM

    wohh precisely what I was looking for, appreciate it for putting up.

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