'As I walk out into the herd I get to see how nature responds to my presence and then learn how to walk amongst the beasts.
The herd keeps me in tune with who I am'
CALLUM / THE HORSE WHISPERER
Author / Alina B
Stonemen probes Callum Snell about living in nature, unleashing our wild side, and what it really takes to be a barefooted, newly jocked stuntman.
Who exactly is the Barefoot Brother? What are you known for? I’ve been working with horses in film and entertainment since I was a kid and got into the stunt world pretty young. Mostly what I do is teach people how to understand their animals…. and remember their wild side. I’m just a dude who hangs out with animals, really.
// Tell me a bit about your history... why are you called the Barefoot Brother?
I guess after 10 years of working as a performer, travelling the world, I was needing some time away from society and the fast pace. I decided to quit my job and go to the outback to get amongst indigenous culture.
I flew to the NT and did a solo bush trip barefoot with just a few litres of water, a hammock and some food. I ended up finding a trail and followed it for a long time.
It started me off on a journey to reconnect to nature and ancient wisdom and I had a lot of incredible experiences with wild animals and indigenous spirit.
I then started going on trips around the world to meet the land and it’s original cultures and soon felt like I was just a brother to everything.
Barefoot brother just kinda came out when I needed to enter a username!
// Can you tell me more about being a stunt horseman?
It’s thrilling, it’s fast, it takes serious accuracy and you’ve got to really trust your horse.
Theres a lot of training but when they call ‘ACTION’ there’s a point where you just have to leave rationale behind and take the leap and trust the moment.
// How did you learn? Get into it? Projects you've worked on? Any injuries or close calls?
Riding horses is in my blood, all my parents, grandparents, great grandparents and great great grandparents rode and lived on the land.
My dad was a professional cowboy and as kids we grew up pretty free in the bush so to end up getting paid for doing what I always loved is perfect.
I’ve not had too many injuries, touch wood, but I’ve definitely been winded a lot.
I had more injuries as a kid then in my professional life!
Some fun projects have been in Cirque du Soleil productions, and Hollywood blockbusters, TV commercials and fashion shoots.
// Whats the coolest thing about it? What do you love most about working and communing with horses?
The thing I love most about working with horses is that they remind me of our primal origins, my place in the natural world.
As I walk out into the herd I get to see how nature responds to my presence and then learn how to walk amongst the beasts.
The herd keeps me in tune with who I am, outside of society and people.
It’s a dream come true that I can now teach and show people what I’ve learned.
I love the people I meet through my work; creatives, environmentalists, directors, healers, actors and just everyday hero’s, I swear working with mums has inspired me as much as the movie stars.
Most afternoons I get home at sunset, I get on bareback and gallop over the hills with the herd following. So whatever my day was it always ends with a good feeling.
// That’s pretty incredible. Apart from horses, what else are you into?
I’m also into trees. Hahaha. I swear they are the wisest things ever.
The ocean is my second favourite place to be, I love free diving and meditating on the ocean floor. I’ve had a few experiences with sharks, whales and dolphins.
Basically anything to do with nature I’m into. Oh, and dancing!
// Cool! How did the Stonemen shoot come about?
I guess the creators of Stonemen were sitting at a campfire not long ago and caught wind of me. They contacted me to see if we could shoot together and I was conveniently taking my horses for a beach swim so they came along to get a few snaps.
// What's a typical weekend for you?
Usually I climb a mountain. Hit the ocean. Hang out with my herd and get away on a trek into the hills. The horses are my family so any spare time I’m just working with them.
// What secrets is nature telling you? Are you getting insights into what we need to do, as a humanity?
Through the inter-species communication work I get to practice and learn how it is to be an animal, see through their eyes and skin and be reminded that as humans we have been given the ability to relate to all other species. Being that our mind has all the faculties to understand and direct our body toward whatever we focus on.
The other day I had a session with a young filly. The process involved her sharing with me life through her experience. She couldn’t understand the pace and energy that humans typically move with and it impacted her in such an emotional way. She felt disregarded and unseen, I was surprised by this because she was surrounded by kind people.
Simply because we are busily focused on surviving and operate in a way that’s not aligned with the rhythm of seasons, days, weather etc she felt confused and frustrated because she shares space with humans.
It made me realise how overly cerebral/ mental our daily activities are and that our animal body/ physical intelligence is sitting dormant. It might just get to run on a treadmill a few times in a week and doesn’t get much of an opportunity to engage with life in a more wholistic way.
// What else does nature teach us? What are we learning personally?
If we take a moment to observe nature, we can see ants, birds and trees. If we observe these we make an opportunity for ourselves to be reminded.
Nature is medicine and a great teacher so my answer would be to practice noticing the cycles and interactions in nature and start questioning things and looking for answers in how the natural ecosystem works as it all can be related back to our life.
// How can we unleash our animal side?
Firstly walk barefoot on the earth and don’t be afraid to get dirty.
Spend time everyday consciously with a non human being. Be it animal, plant or elemental (Sun, water, wind).
Tune into breathing and the physical body & make time to feel your animal body. An easy way is to start is to let your body move through nature. Let it lead you, Climb trees, garden, swim, stargaze, run, roll, cuddle, have sex, eye gaze.
// Do you have time for personal relationships, or are you happy just communing with mother earth? : )
I’d like to think I could survive off sitting in a tree meditating like a monk but that’s far from the case. At this point in time there’s a lot to learn about having a relationship with myself.
I have a bunch of awesome friends that join me on my adventures, we all lead each other astray so im definitely not missing out on having good human connection. One of my favourite things is to all lay under the stars in a big ‘cuddle puddle’.
// Where do you live and why do you love it?
I live in a kick ass old dairy shed in the hills not far from the surf with my herd, a cat called Weirdo and a bunch of birds (the feathered ones).
I’ve also got a good spot where I sleep under the stars and a big fire pit when I wanna get outta the ‘house’ and get a bit more primal!
// Any travel plans in the next year?
I’m off to trek across Iceland in a few weeks. Then down through Europe for a few months following some trails.
Hopefully finding some wild horses and visit some sacred sights.
I have an animal communication workshop online Scotland and then I’m
Just going to see where the wind blows me and take a drone and a cameraman along for the ride.
I’m also about to start a new blog on my website barefootecology.com so we will see what comes of that.