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Let's discuss FEEL.

1986 Views 14 Replies 9 Participants Last post by  Beling
I have been re-reading the book True Horsemanship through Feel by Bill Dorrance and Leslie Desmond. The book is mostly how to get a better feel for your horse and you horse feeling of you. Now don't get excited thinking that sitting in the pasture reading a book will get you feeling your horse. It isn't magical it's a way to get more from your horse by preparing him in a better way.

Here is a short piece from the book.

To help the horse learn to understand what you want, you can make use of his nature. He is naturally curious and is apt to investigate things he hasn't seen or been around before. He is liable to run away from those same things. Thers's a spot somewhere in between (those tendencies) where an observing person can develop some skill at blending in thier plan for how they want the horse to manuever with the horse's willingness to do these things for a person. We can work with a horse this way because it's part of the horse's basic nature to want to get along. But the actual fact, as far as the horse is concerned, is that interaction with human beings is not natural. For a person to sit up there on his back is even less so. This is the reason we need to observe the horse and learn to feel of him and help him feel of us. To get the idea of feel, the horse handler needs to understand how the horse exists and survives in the world, which is through his senses. When it comes to cooperating with the human, we're talking about the feeling the horse has in every square inch of his hide and all through his mind, as it relates to a human touching him directly or in directly.

What are your thoughts on feel?
Do you have it?
Do you need it?
What happens when you don't/do have it?
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I think I would like to ready that book sometime... just that one passage sorta "spoke" to me ya know?

As for feel, I think I have maybe a vague grasp of it, which I need to get a hold of and refine through experience. My idea of feel is "think like a horse", not necessarily to get inside his head, but observe him and how he reacts, his tendencies and to work with them rather than try to correct them when you are working with him. Feel is the connection you have to the horse, you have a thorough knowledge of his body language however subtle it isand his thinking patterns no matter how complicated and you act in accordance to that language, you use it, not just look at it. Feel is an understanding between horse and rider, a mutual respect and appreciation, a willingness on both parts that begins with the person and their feel and translated to the horse.

That is what feel is to me.

When you do not have feel, you do not have a connection. You are just horse and rider, not a partnership. You see his nature, but you do not truly understand it. You realize his tendencies and quirks and think they need to be corrected, you think there is a cookie cutter mold your horse should fit into, and work to fit him into it. You can tell when someone does not have feel. There is not that calm finesse, that fluidity, that understanding that amazes us when we see a trainer signal a horse with the most subtle of aids and no matter the training of the horse, he seems to understand.
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I would say that most people never notice the guy that's riding his horse with feel. He is not the one that is flapping his arms or lunging his horse for 20 minutes before mounting. He's not the one that has a horse prancing or kicking or running off. He's the guy that's waiting for everyone to get on thier horse so the work can start. He's the one that is calmly doing whatever the job is without any fanfare. The man that rides with feel is the man that is always in the right spot and is never noticed untill he stays home.
Very well put, I agree, though when I said "amazes us" I should have put "amazes me", because I agree, most people do not see him, they are too distracted by the gimmick and the glitz to spot the real horseman.
Remember I don’t speak or write quite the same language as you guys.
Just purely curious here, Barry, but what do you mean by this? Do you mean it literally as in you do not primarily speak the American language or do you mean that you speak on a different level with a different purpose than "us"? Or do you have some other meaning?:)

I find what I have read of what you have posted very interesting, by the way.

As you know I am English - yet this is predominantly an American Forum. When writing as a guest, I must be careful not to cause, even unwittingly, offence. There are several versions of English and even Microsoft asks their customers to choose whether they want the American English version or the UK version. The US English version is more widely used partly because there are five Americans to every one Briton.
Expressed in very simple terms there is the traditional example of: 'elevator'/US and 'lift'/UK - different words but same meaning. As an opposite, sometimes we use the same words but for different meanings.

My Collins dictionary lists 11 versions of English in the preface and they don't include in that list American English - of which there is more than one version,

Spoken English of any version is delivered along with intonation of the voice, facial expression, hand language, body language and facial language. Each of these facets of non verbal communication can change or even negate the meaning of the words spoken. Tom Dorrance’s words were recorded by his co-writer but obviously the non verbal communication was not recorded at the same time for the book. Dorrance made some of his points by inference and deduction rather than by spoken word. It is not always possible for me to read and accurately translate what he was saying. The Dorrance referred to in this thread is I believe his brother but no doubt they were brought up to speak the same version of American English.

Writing to convey an exact meaning in horse terminology of a word like “feel” can be difficult, especially if it is a language used around the world and is to be universally understood.
Actually I read Tom Dorrance regularly and I believe that largely I follow his philosophy of thinking in horsey matters.

For me the English language both spoken and written, is a fascinating subject although French was traditionally used in days gone by Diplomats. It was believed that it was more accurate to use the French language in diplomacy rather than the English language, especially when a precise mutual understanding needed to be reached in any written agreement. Spoken English especially, of any version, is not an exact language.

As a Briton I believe I understand what the American Dorrance is saying about “feel” but I am still not 100% sure. One thing I must quickly say - I meant no offence nor any slur and if what I wrote gave that impression to my American hosts, then I must apologize. But in doing so, perhaps I make my point.

Barry G
By no means did I feel you intended any offense at all. That line just piqued my interest and I was curious as to what you meant by it. Thank you for clarifying for me. I had no Idea your nationality actually... There are so many people of different nationalities on here one must never assume.:D
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