True Horsemanship Through Feel
For those of you who aren’t familiar with it, it’s the bible of people trying to find “a better way” to deal with horses. Better vs. what ? Vs. traditionnal, yank and spank methods. This book is a toughie. The first reading is a little tricky, a little esoteric. Some of it sounds like gibberish and I lost interest at about half of it. That was like, 3 years ago. Now I slept on it and, having dealt with another equine in the meantime (my daughter’s 10 yr old pony mare), I decided to read it again, as I’ll soon be welcoming another horse in my life. And BAM ! all the sudden, the book makes *perfect* sense to me.
Bill Dorrance was Tom Dorrance’s brother. Tom Dorrance was Ray Hunt’s mentor. Ray Hunt was the man who inspired and taught maybe a famous horseman, including Pat Parelli and Buck Brannaman (opposite ends of the horsemanship spectrum, but both widely known and crazy successful in their trade). Bill Dorrance lived to be 94, and rode -and roped, he was a reata master- till the end. He was a simple spoken, gentle minded, develishly smart and unearthly skilled man with a keep sense of humor. This time around I’m reading this book slowly. Very slowly. I re-read most paragraphs, to be sure to let everything sink in. Damn, I even have one of those fluo yellow markers to underline fundamental truths. You know what ? There’s a lot of yellow on that book 😉
So what IS “feel”. Feel is two fold. One, it’s the material, or unmaterial connection, you can establish with a horse. The way he picks up on your energy. You put a little bit of life in the lead and the horse picks up on it and starts leading. Lightly and willingly. That’s feel at work. You can also start directing energy at its hips in the round pen at liberty, and he starts moving off your pressure before you’ve made any sound or noticeable movement. That’s also feel. Two, it’s *awareness* of each other. For a horse to pick on your feel, or you on his, you need to be connected to that horse, through thoughts and emotions. That’s feel. It’s not magic (though it sure looks like it, when done by one of the masters). It all starts with dedication, observation. Oh, and PATIENCE. I’m aware that this post will probably not have any readers whatsoever. It’s ok, I’m just thinking out loud here. However, if *some* of you have thoughts about relationships, be them horsey or otherwise, feel free to comment or start a discussion. I’ll be happy to build up on that.