The Feel of a Horse
This website is the place where horse lovers of any age or skill level can learn important things about using a "feel and release" approach to handling, training and riding horses.
The techniques and philosophy that Bill Dorrance left us to consider and practice, he referred to as "the particles of feel" that he hoped we would add to what we already know and do with horses, "for best results".
In the back on this site, subscribers will see some examples of this "feel and release" approach that Bill said he hoped I would share with people who need a "little extra help getting their horses to understand them".
At the corresponding Facebook links (scroll to end), and in the Discussion Forum link that is attached to each video, you are welcomed and encouraged to discuss what you see, feel, and think about these videos. Be candid. Please tell it as you see and feel it. We aren't suffering from any "thin-skin" complex around here... and without your honest feedback feeling welcomed and appreciated, it's doubtful that you will derive much value or meaning from a subscription.
Later in the year, new projects that are in various stages of completion will be posted. Your patience with the development and translation of new materials is greatly appreciation; your expressions of gratitude and enthusiasm, shared with many of us in so many ways is well received, and so much appreciated...and we thank you!
As you make your way through the various channels and videos, please respond freely, analyze openly, think about, question, remember and compare the things you see. Present to us with confidence any questions you have, and we hope you can share openly with us the experiences that form your conclusions, or cause you to question what you see, and believe you understand -- or don't -- about what is presented. Revisit as needed.
Dialogue maters so much at this juncture, and to this end we are committed to incorporate your input in real time, to the greatest extent possible, so the future manifestations of our content can reflect your contributions. This site is a work in progress and so genuinely honored and happy to have your participation.
We are dedicated to producing inspiring content that can help others to appreciate the message and the approach that Bill wished would continue. I think it would please him to know that a humble transparency and openness characterizes the work of his students. Please join us on the corresponding Facebook pages and groups where people who practice this work share their stories, videos, questions and epiphanies.
In the video and audio tracks we post regularly on this site, and in the interviews and "3rd Sunday's" Facebook presentations that are offered monthly, you will learn to "hear" and "read" and "speak" to horses in a language they recognize. Bill Dorrance called this language "feel", and he suggested that "a fella" learn as much about this as possible, "for best results".
This site was made for horse lovers who want to refine their feel and advance their skills with assistance from Bill and Leslie, and other coaches on the FOAH team. As a visitor or member of our community you will be well treated...your breed preference, training background, accomplishments, or riding style does not matter. All are welcome here!.
If you want to learn more than is possible in a short visit to the landing pages accessible from the toolbar, please join us "out back" where video content -- in English, Spanish, Italian, Swedish, Portuguese and German (thanks to our translators) -- is available with the $20 monthly or $175 annual plan.
There is a reason that this site exists, and that I do what I do. It's because on January 24, 1996, Bill Dorrance penned these lines on the back of a grocery list and handed it to me.
That day, I decided to make Bill Dorrance’s message available to people who like horses and need them for their work, or ride them for pleasure and sport.
On July 17, 1999, Bill Dorrance said this:
“If a fella wanted to, why, if he had the time and he wanted to, he could help another fella to learn about feel, and how it works with horses in that better way.”
His plan was a good one. Horses need help and people also do. I told Bill I would do my best. As the years passed, I kept that promise in small ways. Inching along. It was not always possible, and there have been times when I didn't think I could.
Now, I know that we are in it for the long haul.
When the flames of burning desire motivate you to make time to practice the particles of feel that lead to a solid foundation, that's when the horses around you start to look and feel different to you. They appear more relaxed and confident than they did before, because they are.
Horses handled and prepared this way remain alert and curious about their environment, they respond well, and have an interest in your movements, and your purpose.
By using the method that Bill Dorrance described and showed (725 illustrations) in his book (this means: when you use a feel the horse can understand), and you have a good coach who can do the work (that's the key, right there) you can learn to position yourself mentally and physically for success during any horse handling or training situation.
Horses trained and ridden this way do not doubt or resist the handler. They do not to get past you in a tight space, rear up, or bit and kick, refuse to get in a trailer or hesitate to be caught. They do not pull away, and tune out when you spend time with them, or knock into your body for any reason.
Behaviors like this are a clear sign that the horse is being, or has been handled or ridden by someone who lacks both knowledge and skill about the way to build in feel-based foundation. And that's ok, it's a normal situation.
The good news is that feel can be taught and learned by anyone who has that burning desire, enough time, and a good coach. The "good coach" not only understands the work, but has also developed his/her own capacity to read a horse correctly and can convey to others how an understandable feel and timing produces the desired results.
Another way to say this is that the right coach for anyone trying to learn anything . . .be it tennis, baking, tango, violin or creative writing . . .needs to be vetted. You MUST do your homework and satisfy yourself that your coach of choice is able to walk-the-talk. Unlike the low-risk factor in a creative writing or baking tutorial -- when it comes to handling and riding any horse, your very life can depend on the skills and judgement of your coach.
When a horse understands what you mean by what you do it is because your body language, timing, and the feel you present is understandable in that moment. In the beginning of your effort to master this work, you will experience this satisfying response from a horse as just a fleeting moment. With practice a weak connection gets better, and a good one becomes even stronger.
FOAH-Founders, Leslie Desmond and Antonio Hidalgo
You are most welcome to view the free videos that we post for site members.
Our Facebook groups (public and private) and pages (True Horsemanship Through Feel discussion, AHT Horsemanship & Sport, The Feel of a Horse with Leslie Desmond) carry content compliments the focused work presented here in the back.