Bandit, Cowboy & bsms...muddling through together - Page 49 - The Horse Forum
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post #481 of 1969 Old 09-26-2016, 05:34 PM
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I've got True Unity. Tom Dorrance is not an English Literature graduate or major. He's just an old time cowboy that is so close to horses that he is hard to understand.

Einstein said the hardest part of what he understood was finding ways to put it into words that others could understand. Einstein then understood things about the universe that were not attached to words. I think it is the same with Tom Dorrance and horses.

To really understand him I think demands a whole new plane of thinking.

Yes, when I first read the book, I thought........what???? But I did read Zen and The Art of Archery, a few times, and have watched TV specials showing what Zen masters could do that is unimaginable.

But I don't think Zen necessarily has anything to do with Tom, or Albert. Anybody that is at the top of their game, and then beyond, seem to reach a point where it is difficult to impart what they know to most. Or at all until that "whole new plane of thinking" is reached.

That said, I'm far from that point.

Only recently I read where a few pages of Zen and the Art of Archery was sent to him for comment.

He underlined, "the archer is surprised when the arrow flies". There really is a subconscious operating in all of us. It is impossible for our sequential conscious mind to direct us to run backwards, reach behind us, and catch a flying baseball. It's too too slow.

But we can do it. Well, some can. There are things we are doing every day every second that are directed from an area of ourselves that we are not aware of. Reaching into that is what the practice of Zen, umm, practices. Going above our controlling selves and allowing a deeper self to act.

I think Tom reached into that just by reaching as far as he could into the horse.

One author offered that Tom had no ego. Becoming egoless has been described as one of the objectives, or is it outcomes, of Zen.

The part of us that is actually running backwards reaching behind has no ego.

Ok, nuff of that. I'm not even close to any of it.

I think it important to always be mindful that the horse actually owes us nothing at all and it is we who owe the horse. "It's a goal"
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post #482 of 1969 Old 09-26-2016, 05:47 PM
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Zen-ness (is that even a word?) is relative to “other”. Are you closer to Zen than you were yesterday? If so, then you are on the correct path. That path never ends.

Those who are egoless realize that they will never reach the end. It is not success they seek, only truth and enlightenment. If it is success you seek, you are already doomed to fail.

“You spend your whole life with horses and just about the time you think you have them figured out, a horse comes along that tells you otherwise.” –quote from my very wizened trainer


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post #483 of 1969 Old 09-26-2016, 06:16 PM Thread Starter
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I suspect Tom Dorrance tends to REVEAL what the horse has taught us. He verbalizes what we have to first experience.

The operational test and evaluation guy in me rebels against it. I like clear directions. In that sense, I really DO think Tom Roberts is a much better writer for a new rider to learn about horses. I suspect Tom Dorrance would have appreciated Tom Roberts, and vice versa. But I think a good writer - or maybe a good editor helping the writer - should give something more concrete and less zen. A good editor would have pressed Tom Dorrance to discuss examples, or suggested metaphors that might help someone understand.

I got another book today. It is the third in a series Tom Moates has written. The first was worthless, IMHO. Parelli to the gills. The second started introducing ideas by Harry Whitney.

In the third, he gives a very good discussion of what I mean by boundaries, in a chapter called, "Electric Fences Don't Chase Horses". An electric fence can give quite a zap to a horse. Painful, even. Yet horses don't fear the electric fence, and might graze happily inches away. That is because the horse understands: If he doesn't try to cross, the fence leaves him alone. The fence is a firm limit, but it never chases or harasses the horse. Only the horse can make the fence zap him. The horse controls the zap, and thus the horse is at peace.

I find my horses seem to understand boundaries better than control.

It is all well and good to be the horse's lawyer, but if the lawyer fails to convince the jury, the client gets convicted. I think the Hunt / Dorrance books may prove valuable to me, but they could be much more valuable if more concrete. As it is, I suspect many who need to hear them the most will not, to the horse's detriment.

Riders ask "How?" Horsemen ask "Why?"
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post #484 of 1969 Old 09-26-2016, 06:27 PM
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Originally Posted by bsms View Post
The horse controls the zap, and thus the horse is at peace.
That is actually pretty good. My horses are around an electric fence every day. Well, they think they are. Hasn't been turned on in over a year.

Another way to look at it rather than being in control might be, "If I don't bother it, it won't bother me".

I have to tell about when Rimmey first got introduced to my fence about a year and a half ago. All 20+ horse were here milling around. Some had been introduced, some not.

When Rimmey touched the fence, he whirled around and attacked everyone that was anywhere near him in herd status. I read it as, "Somebody did that. If I get everyone I'll at least get the culprit". He finally settled down.

It was funny at the time. He was MAD!!
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I think it important to always be mindful that the horse actually owes us nothing at all and it is we who owe the horse. "It's a goal"
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post #485 of 1969 Old 09-26-2016, 08:02 PM
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Thought occurred to me while outside puttering and pondering. I wonder how many books on horses Tom Dorrance read on the way to the mastery that he did achieve?
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I think it important to always be mindful that the horse actually owes us nothing at all and it is we who owe the horse. "It's a goal"
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post #486 of 1969 Old 09-26-2016, 08:10 PM
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I have one that he was said to have particularly enjoyed called "Kinship With All Life".

You can probably find it for free somewhere on the net because it was written back in 1954. It is the story of a German Shepherd called "Strongheart" and his handler's experiences with the almost eerie ability of the dog to communicate and understand humans.
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“You spend your whole life with horses and just about the time you think you have them figured out, a horse comes along that tells you otherwise.” –quote from my very wizened trainer


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post #487 of 1969 Old 09-26-2016, 09:04 PM Thread Starter
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Originally Posted by Hondo View Post
...I wonder how many books on horses Tom Dorrance read on the way to the mastery that he did achieve?
My guess is not many. According to the introduction in the book, he recommended the one mentioned and "Dressage" by Henry Wynmalen. It also said when asked if there were any books to read, he replied, "There may be, but I have not read it yet."

But he grew up on horses, and I started at 50. At one point, his Dad had 150 horses. I have three. And he met a lot of very experienced riders, and I've met very few.

Books can't teach you everything, but they can teach a person a lot. The principles taught by Tom Roberts were huge in giving me a foundation to stand on when puzzling out what to do next. What he wrote about horses and freedom and not forcing a horse to go exactly where he wanted was huge - for me, and thus for Mia, and Bandit has benefited from it as well.

It was a rider on HF who sent me a PM suggesting I might try a curb bit with Mia, and that PM may have saved Mia's life - because she was getting dangerous and no one around me seemed to know what to try next. It was a suggestion on this thread that introduced me to using sheepskin on a saddle, and I now view it as more essential for safety than a helmet - AND a great way to learn to move with the horse!

It is very important to go test the ideas one reads. I've read a lot of utter horse pucky, and some of that from very experienced riders. Many of the things written about dressage, particularly about how a horse balances, moves and best learns motion, is either simply wrong or inadequate - see the thread on 'rounding backs' for a discussion. But I'm way too old to try to learn only from the horse. I believe horses are our best teachers, but I learn a lot from books and from reading about peoples' experiences with their horses here on HF.

Riders ask "How?" Horsemen ask "Why?"
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post #488 of 1969 Old 09-26-2016, 09:54 PM
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@bsms What's the deal with sheepskin?

I think it important to always be mindful that the horse actually owes us nothing at all and it is we who owe the horse. "It's a goal"
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post #489 of 1969 Old 09-26-2016, 10:24 PM Thread Starter
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This is my saddle, plain. It is 16", which works OK for me with a padded seat but too big for me as a slick seat, slick swell saddle:



The problem is that it is like skating on ice. At any sudden change in the horse's speed or direction, either I'm braced against that motion with the stirrups...or my butt slides. I can recover, but any time my rump is sliding, I'm not moving with the horse. In cantering, some folks say to scoop the saddle, or to "polish it" with your seat. But the truth is my saddle moves with the horse, and any time my rump is sliding, I'm NOT with my horse.



What shocked me when I tried to shrink my saddle with a sheepskin was how incredibly easy it made it to simply move with the horse. No sliding. Even if Bandit leaps into a walk to canter transition - which he does when we are in the arena because the arena is small and he has a tough time with the tight turns - even when he leaps into it, my rump just follows the motion. I can be relaxed, doing nothing with the stirrups, nothing to anticipate the change - and my body just goes along with the horse. That is probably the closest thing I can do to imitate a spook-based jump forward. With the sheepskin, WE just leap forward.

I had people tell me it was easier to learn to canter bareback than in a saddle. If so, then it is probably because the horse's back is muscle and hair and it grips you the way the sheepskin does.

I don't know why. Not for certain. But I do know it makes staying very steady on the saddle and horse very easy. It has improved my cantering even when I take it off, because it taught me what the horse's actual motion was.

And where I first noticed it was when Bandit would slam on the brakes - something he has largely stopped doing. But when he did, I didn't slide forward. At all. It is like having a super-rough out saddle, covered in sticky stuff - except comfortable! The extended version gives grip to my thighs (not my knees). And it is automatic.

So I've taken to calling it butt velcro. I insisted my wife use it. I told my daughter after her first fall a while back that if she didn't want to use a helmet, then she WOULD use the sheepskin.

Once in a while, I will ride without it. That helps me to check my position and balance. But 90% of the time, I go with sheepskin - and plan to for the rest of my life. I consider it a safety device, and I think it helps more than a helmet does.

Of course, it doesn't rain here either......but it takes me about 2-3 minutes to put it on, and about 1 minute to remove...

Riders ask "How?" Horsemen ask "Why?"

Last edited by bsms; 09-26-2016 at 10:28 PM. Reason: spelling
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post #490 of 1969 Old 09-26-2016, 10:40 PM
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There goes my budget again..................

I think it important to always be mindful that the horse actually owes us nothing at all and it is we who owe the horse. "It's a goal"
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