Q: “I’ve heard from several people that I have a so-called “problem” horse, but I don’t think I do. What do you say about something like that?”
Bill: “It really depends on what the “problem” is as to how you go about it. The first thing to do is see if your horse will lead up real free [Pg: 332] on the halter rope. You want to be able have him lead up real free [Pg: 332] on that halter rope, and also teach him when you’re standing there to put his head anyplace it’s necessary for it to be. This could be up or down or to either side or to anyplace in between, without it weighing hardly anything. You want to move that head around and get it loosened up from side to side, until you can put it about anywhere, but not all the way to the ground. You wouldn’t need him to travel like that. He needs to be real loose and flexible at the poll, [Pg: 323] and you’ll want to be real careful not to put your head above his head in any circumstances. If he gets startled and brings his head up real fast, he can catch you under the chin. No, it’s real dangerous to put your head there, above his head.
And, you’ll want that horse to back up real smooth, without any rigidness or resentment showing up, and this would be going just one step at a time, real slow. At any place you’re working, you’d want to be able to just set that foot down and leave it there until you wanted it to move back another step, no matter which foot it was. There’s no need to go too fast here on this backing, because it’s easy to get the horse confused about it if you do. And you’ll get him to step those front feet around there, too. You’ll step the forehand around the hindquarters in both directions, and step the hindquarters away [Pg: 357] from you, leaving to forehand pretty much where it is. No matter what the problem is, to get it fixed up better for the horse, he’s going to have to learn how to feel [Pg: 320] of you first, and this is the best way to go about because this is what the horse understands.
Now, some horses aren’t gentle. You’ll have to get to where you can get up to them first, before you do these other things just spoken about. But even when he’s loose, you’re working on understanding things through indirect feel [Pg: 319]. That’s the other kind of feel and it’s real important to know about it. Indirect feel [Pg: 319] is what I call it when you don’t have anything to hold him with, when there’s just space between you. He can still feel you anyway, just not through touching his body in any way. It’s more the idea of it he gets, and that’s because he’s picking up your feel from a distance.
There’s no reason to hurry any of this because that’s what gets the horse called a “problem” by someone in the first place. It just takes the time it takes. A person should work this part into their understanding of things about a horse and they will, if they want to work things through feel.” [Pg: 319]
From: "True Horsemanship Through Feel” By Bill Dorrance with Leslie Desmond