“For the love of the horse.”
For over twenty-five years Mark has been studying, training in, and teaching the Japanese martial art of aikido, an endeavor he began as a way to help improve his work with horses. The word Aikido translated means “the way of harmony.”
Aikido is a defensive art that emphasizes entering into and blending with a partner’s energy, then directing that energy to the most peaceful solution possible using the power of softness through circular movement as the means of direction. The ultimate goal for the practitioner is to bring even the most difficult or dangerous situation to a harmonious conclusion.
As time went on, Mark began to discover ways of using the core principles of aikido – staying centered and soft, entering in, blending with, and using circular movement – in his horsemanship. This soon led to the integration of these principals into his teaching as well.
With interest growing among his horsemanship students about the concepts he was teaching, Mark eventually developed a course designed specifically for horse people that focuses on the principles and internal elements of aikido. Originally known as “Aikido for Horsemen,” the course eventually gained its official title of Aibado, which translated means “for the love of the horse.”
The classes, taught in a dojo over three days, focuses on the development of internal and external softness, self-control, movement, balance, and breathing, among other aspects crucial to success, whether with horses or in life.
Mark holds a third-degree black belt in Yoshinkan Aikido, and when time allows, he still trains and teaches the art in a dojo in his hometown of Estes Park, Colorado.
Mark has written extensively about his work with aikido and horsemanship in his books, Horsemanship Through Life, and Nature in Horsemanship. Other books worth looking into on the subject are “The Way of Aikido,” and “Mastery,” both by George Leonard.