Using the pressure of a single finger on the lead rope, Skip Ewing effortlessly guided a horse named Blaze around the show ring Tuesday, while students at Lexington's Locust Trace AgriScience Farm watched in fascination.
Ewing teaches "natural horsemanship," in which the trainer gains a horse's cooperation by developing a rapport, rather than forcing obedience.
"It's like watching someone do magic with a horse," said Locust Trace teacher Carrie Davis, whose horsemanship and equitation class got a demonstration from Ewing.
Ewing had Blaze step forward or back, turn left or right, with simple hand motions, never pulling or forcing the horse. He described the process in almost mystical terms, speaking of "energy" traveling from him to the horse, and vice versa.
Ewing became a trainer after a successful career in country music. He still performs, but sees training as a way to reach a different audience. "I think horses can bring out the best things in people," he said, "if we allow them to do it."