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Mark Russell

Riding with Chi   -   Lessons in Lighteness


Mark was inspired by the teachings of the late Portuguese riding master Nuno Oliveira, and in the 1980s he traveled to Portugal for lessons in classical dressage. Since that time, Mark has developed his own training program based on the concepts of riding in lightness and the French classical style combined with Natural Horsemanship. Mark believes that when it comes to good horsemanship, there is very little difference in the learning process; his clinics attract riders from western, hunt seat, dressage, and gaited disciplines.

Mark talks to riders from the horse’s point of view. And teaching both horse and rider to relax and develop the suppleness and strength necessary for better energy flow and balance is what led Mark to tai chi twenty years ago. Mark believes that the practice of even elementary tai chi and qi gong exercises gives the rider insight into a process whose goal is to achieve optimal unity between horse and rider.

For more information about Mark you can visit his website:

Author, trainer, and clinician, Mark Russell, owns and operates Willow Spring Ranch in Tennessee.  

His book, Lessons in Lightness: The Art of Educating the Horse, received critical acclaim when published in 2004. The book remains fresh and current as riders continue to strive for lightness in their riding today.

Mark Russell (1951-2016)

The horse world lost one of its best when Mark Russell lost his life in a tragic riding accident at a clinic in Massachusetts. All of us at Advanced Equine Studies are committed to continuing the legacy of Mark’s work with horses and riders. His Riding with Chi DVD conveys his inspiring vision of how riders can posture themselves to better connect with horses. His Lessons in Lightness: Building the Horse’s Foundation In Hand DVD explains and teaches the gymnastic exercises that will put the horse and rider on a path to riding in lightness to the aids.

Mark’s philosophy will always be a part of who we are at Advanced Equine Studies and we are honored to have produced these DVDs with him. You can read more about Mark on


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