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JLWW 02-27-2013 10:48 AM

Leslie Desmond Feel and Release Methods
I just came from my 2nd clinic with Leslie Desmond this past weekend. I have studied her stuff for a few years now and finally was able to get her to come to Colorado to help out with a mustang I had hit a wall with last year. Others liked her stuff and asked her to come again, The clinic had a great turn out. I see a lot of discussions on here and in general talking about this person vs that person. The horse world, especially where training is concerned, can be so political and part of that is what drove me out of the business to begin with so many years ago. Everyone has to find that trainer/clinician that resonates with them and go accordingly, not with the person who is the most popular at that time. For me... I needed to know the "Why" something is done this way and Leslie's focus which is what Bill Dorrance's focus was, is all about the why. You do Feel and Release because the horse understands it, both mentally and physically. Because it makes you a team, not a person who dominates or applies pressure or pain to get what you want. People say to me, but it works for me... yes, but does it work for your horse? Too bad he can't tell you that it does not. If you are not familiar with her work and her mentorship that she had done with Bill Dorrance for so many years before he died and the book that they wrote together, I recommend in the very least you check her out and see what you think and how you feel about it. home . She is the road least traveled, that offers the best view, in my opinion.

horse happy 02-27-2013 08:52 PM

JLWW, I could not agree more with your comments regarding so many trainers and their followers. I would really like to get to a clinic with Leslie Desmond! That is great that you were able to! I've got the book you speak of by Bill Dorrance and I am most times struggling to understand quite what is meant by the "feel and release" while I work with my horses. I love my horses and really want to do the right thing with them, just feel like a bumbler much of the time but I do keep reading and trying.

JLWW 02-28-2013 12:45 AM

You are not alone
You are not alone on the struggle to understand the Feel and Release method. The book is extremely detailed and she wrote it just like Bill used to talk, which was deliberate to keep the spirit of Bill alive in that classic book, but at the same time is harder for the average person to grasp. During our clinic this last weekend, she did an exercise with each one of us where we held the halters in our hand , as though we were the horse, she held the other end of the lead rope. We had to walk around as though we were a horse and she would "cue" us in very subtle ways to see if we caught it, we would stop, turn or come to her or away from her based on what we felt her doing on the lead rope. She did say at one point, now how do you put that in words ? How do you explain feel? Well they couldn't explain feel, it's just something you learn. But once you do actually attend a clinic with her or two, then you will have a better understanding of what they mean in the book and you can go back and read it again. I strongly encourage you to try and get with her at a clinic if you can. What state do you live in? She is coming back to Colorado in June, and is currently in CA right now. She goes where the demand is and will come if someone is willing to host a clinic with her. Just keep that in mind. Thanks for your reply on this. :-)

horse happy 02-28-2013 10:12 AM

What a great way to help to get the idea of Feel across, by becoming the horse! I live in Michigan and there aren't many opportunities for clinic around here. Unfortunately I don't have the financial resources to book a clinic or to fly to clinics in the western states. I hope that she comes to the tri-state area or somewhere near here. I'll keep checking. Thanks for the encouragement JLWW :) I am going to continue to try!

JLWW 02-28-2013 10:38 AM

I understand completely. She will be in Ashland Wisconsin this year, Check it out, Not sure how far that is for you to drive from Michigan, but that is a lot closer than Colorado. If you decided you wanted to come to Colorado and audit a clinic, I would extend our home to you to stay here and pick you up at the airport. I know how hard it can be to get to these things when you really want to see someone. I know you don't know me, but my husband and I are pretty easy going and not axe murderers. :lol:

When I emailed Leslie, I thought OMG how will I ever meet her, then she offered to come here, I had to get the word out and bring in some other auditors to help pay for her, but that is how she got her footing back into Colorado now. So now everyone wants her back. She is addictive like that. So there may be creative ways to get with her somehow. I gave you a few. She comes here again in June... just keep an open mind and then let me know if I can somehow make it easier for you. home check out her Ashland WI dates. Take care

horse happy 03-01-2013 11:39 PM

What a generous offer JLWW! Thanks for your kindness. I'll keep looking to see if she ends up any closer to my general area, as that just makes it easier for me all around. Right now it's so cold and icy and snow-covered out here that I'm struggling to do much outside at all. Of course that gives me opportunity to work with my herd in their stalls and that can be enlightening too! Looking forward to spring!

tinyliny 03-02-2013 12:28 AM

Personally, I'm a little disappointed that you and your husband aren't axe murderers. That would have made for an exciting story!

Just kidding, of course!

Can you pick me up at the airport, too? (kidding again!). I would sincerely love to come to a LD clinic. I am fortunate that I have a trainer who follows along in a similar vein of thought. but, it would be fascinating to watch her work and see if I could pick up on some of that elusive "feel".

Ian McDonald 03-04-2013 12:29 AM

Leslie's one of my favorites. Just saw her today (Livermore CA) and each time I come away from it better than I was before. Her audio book "Horse Handling and Riding Through Feel" is excellent as well. I've probably listened to it 20x.

horse happy 03-04-2013 05:13 PM

Ian, I'm contemplating picking up the audio books but best would certainly be to set in on a clinic or better still to bring my mare and see what I can do to better open a good two-way communication. JLWW, do I understand you to say that you emailed Leslie and she offered to do a clinic in your area? I can only imagine what all that would entail but you've got me thinking now.... Thanks!

TheArtOfRiding 02-13-2014 11:49 AM

Hi folks! I just came across this post while searching for something else :)

After searching for YEARS for what I needed ti "fit" my highly sensitive, smart and athletic horse Chase, I finally found Leslie's work and the "holy grail" - or it is to me. Chase could not have been more clear - learn from that lady right there :)

I work closely with Leslie and participated in her trainers' program for 4 years (including 5-6 day immersion clinics, a colt starting clinic and a week with her privately in Sweden). She is still my mentor of course, there is always more :) She mostly stopped doing trainers' clinics for a while but has a new apprenticeship program in the works for 2015 if anyone is interested.

Anyway feel and release is my absolute passion and I have written many articles about my experiences at Leslie's clinics and my own discoveries as I evolve my own skill. I also love writing about my own student/coaching moments that I found particularly moving (this horsemanship style will do that......). So it's all here if you want to check it out:

Also if you are on Facebook, you might enjoy these pages:
The Feel of a Horse (Leslie's announcements)
Tom & Bill Dorrance Horsemen (for fans of Dorrances, photos, quotes etc)
The Art Of Riding (that's my page, where I post feel and release related quotes/blog/tips)

And one other resource - Leslie has various youtube clips that are a bit scattered (her channel is however you can find them all in a playlist I did to make them easier to find (I made many of these clips for Leslie over the years, and others did before me, before Leslie had her own channel... so they tend to reside on different channels. The full playlist is here: look for Leslie Desmond Clinics playlist. The first is actually the first track from the Audiobook. Love it.

Karen Musson

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