Durham, CT—It is with deep regret that we inform the horse world that it has lost one of its bright stars. Much-loved author, trainer, and clinician, Mark Russell passed away from injuries sustained in a tragic riding accident at a clinic in Massachusetts on June 13, 2016.
Mark’s inspiration for classical riding came from the famous equestrian master Nuno Oliveira. Oliveira’s premise that horse and rider communicate as equals led Mark on a lifelong quest and turned the sport he loved into art. He went on to style his own modern teaching system based on classical French dressage with a focus on lightness to the aids and traditional gymnastic routines.
Mark received international acclaim following the 2004 publication of his book, Lessons in Lightness: The Art of Educating the Horse. In 2009 Mark collaborated with trainer Patricia Norcia and tai chi expert David Ritchie to produce the DVD Riding with Chi: Your Pathway to Energy Mastery. Then in 2015 Mark released another DVD, Lessons in Lightness: Building the Horse’s Foundation In Hand. Through these publications and hands-on clinics, Mark helped riders of all abilities achieve a heightened level of energy awareness that allowed them to bond with their horses in a new and different way.
Mark proved his remarkable ability to bond with horses through hundreds of clinics across North America. His compassionate approach to training was a gift and an inspiration for all who worked with him.
Mark is survived by his wife, Hela, his brother, Gary Russell, and sisters-in-law Elaine Russell, Vaike Alexandra Koiv, Anneliis Koiv along with Victoria Scalaro, an unofficial sister and member of the Russell family since childhood. Mark also leaves a stable of beloved horses at his Willow Spring Ranch in Tennessee, where an accumulation of rescued dogs always welcomed him home. A GoFundMe page under Natural Dressage/Mark Russell has been established to help Hela with funeral expenses and to keep Mark’s vision of horsemanship and his teachings alive.
This notice is provided by Andrea Steele, Mouse Hole Farm Productions, coauthor of Mark’s book and producer of his DVDs, and on behalf of Mark’s family. More information about Mark Russell is available on his Facebook page Mark Russell Natural Dressage, website NaturalDressage.com , and onAdvancedEquineStudies.com. Anyone may contact Andrea by email at firstname.lastname@example.org or cellphone at 860.754.7538.