July 6, 1998
Frank Bell and friend.
by Lisa Allen
Valley View Editor
Frank Bell communicates with horses using patience, gentle touching...and a whisper. Before he steps into the saddle, he waits until he is sure the horse is ready.
Bell, known as a "horse whisperer," or "gentler," uses a number of techniques that encourage the horse to "invite" the rider to step aboard.
"I make friends with the horse," he says. "It's relationship building. Once you understand how to use it, you don't get on until you get an invitation."
Bell has taught thousands of people how to use his methods at demonstrations, workshops and private sessions. He travels around the world to teach horse owners his remarkable technique of gentling horses, plus earning thousands of dollars for the North American Riding for the Handicapped Association (NARHA).
His horse whispering demonstrations last three hours and pit him against three problem horses he has never seen before.
"I use a 7-step safety system," he says. "The first six checks are on the ground. I work with the horse until I find what makes him nervous. It's a program of desensitizing the problem and lovingly helping them through it."
Bell will be in the area this week thanks to the persistence of Duvall residents Alice Stebbins and Shelley Howe, who attended workshops held in Woodinville last year.
They were both so impressed by Bell's methods they began organizing clinics for this year for the Duvall and Monroe areas.
Stebbins had been told last year that her three-year-old Arab was unmanageable. But she wasn't ready to give up on the horse she had raised from a foal.
She and Howe, who also had a problem horse, decided to attend Bell's workshop, but when it was time to go the clinic, Stebbins couldn't even get her horse to go into the trailer.
Bell came to help her load him, and after three private sessions, "the transformation was as close to a miracle as it gets," she said. "Now I have a horse to ride and enjoy."
Howe said they wanted others to have the opportunity "to learn what Bell teaches." She said Bell's philosophy is not only beneficial to those who deal with horses, but others as well.
"Frank gives to the horse before he takes," she said. "Then the horse comes along willingly. He's a great teacher and what he teaches is obtainable to all of us."
Bell will be holding a Horsewhispering Benefit demonstration for Little Bit, Equifriends and HOPE Therapeutic Riding Centers on Thursday, July 9, 6:30 to 10 p.m., at the Evergreen Equestrian Park at the Monroe Fairgrounds.
Tickets for the demonstration are $25 for adults, $15 for children 16 and under. Adult advance ticket prices are $5 off. For credit card orders or information call 425-883-1716. Tickets can be purchased at Double ZZ Western Outfitters and DeYoung Lowell Co. Inc. in Woodinville and Will Rogers Co. and Western Shop in Monroe.
On July 10, 11 and 12, from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m., Bell will be at Canter Field Farm in Duvall to hold workshops for riders.
The Duvall workshops will cost $300 for riders and $20 for auditors and are limited to 15 riders with manageable horses. Unmanageable horses will be worked with in private sessions. Riders must pre-register. Spectators should bring chairs. For information and reservations call 425-788-1154 or 788-9603. Canter Field Farm is located at 16117 309th Ave. NE., Duvall.
To get there, from the only signal light in Duvall, go north on SR-203 to NE Cherry Valley Road (a "Y" to the right). Follow NE Cherry Valley Road three miles to 309th Ave. NE. Turn right on 309th Ave. NE. Canter Field Farm is the second house/barn on the right on 309th.
Bell also offers a video, "Discover the Horse You Never Knew," available at www.horsewhisperer.com or call 1-800-871-7635.
"It's all about relationships," he says. "Whatever the person is feeling, whether fear or confidence, moves through to the horse. Bonding and confidence building develop a safe and willing partnership between the horse and its owner."