Q: “My horse feels just fine like he always feels. Is there anything I should do to get him to be a better horse?”
Bill: “If he feels that way to you, then you shouldn’t be having much of a problem. But a horse that leans on you when you’re standing there, like he is doing now, why he wouldn’t be feeling of you. [Pp: 319, 320] He’d be taking over. [Pp: 359, 360] That’s what’s taking place now.
If somebody hands me a horse to hold for them for a few minutes or so, why the first thing I do is to see if that horse knows how to feel of me. I could be standing there or I could be on the horse. I prefer horseback because I don’t manoeuvre too well on the ground. The first thing I’d do is see if he can follow a feel [Pp: 318, 319, 320] to maybe step forward, or to the side, or just back him up a little to see how much feel he has to offer me back. Even just shifting that weight backwards [Pg: 355] and forwards can give you something to build on.”
Q: “How can I teach my colt to tie?”
Bill: “You teach those colts [Pg: 307] to lead. [Pp: 332, 333,334] When they’re good at that, they’re ready to tie up. If they pull back, they aren’t ready to be tied and they aren’t leading as good as you thought they were. A colt isn’t liable to pull back [Pg: 346] if he’s been taught to lead the way we’re talking about.”
Q: “What about a horse that won’t be caught?”
Bill: “That’s a good one to ask because there’s plenty of those horses around. It takes a lot of time to learn how to catch a horse that doesn’t want to be caught. With those horses, you better have a little corral to put them in that they won’t jump out of. You let them run around in there. As long as he’s looking over the fence and going fast, he sure isn’t thinking about being caught. Get his train of thought changed around. Every time he goes by, toss the end of your rope in there to get him used to you doing that, not to make him go faster, although he might at first. He’ll start watching you and probably in about 15 - 20 minutes he’ll begin to look at you. And maybe this will take place a lot sooner, too. If he stops, walk up and pet him. If the horse leaves when you go up to him, your presentation [Pp: 345, 346] is probably what caused him to leave, and you’d walk up to him next time with more thoughts in your mind about how to help him stay, and we’d be in hopes that he’d stay.
He may want to come up to you. [Pg: 329] It’s best to let him and rub him on or under his neck and down a little on the side, and then step away and let him go on for a little longer. He may want to stick with you and think it’s a good place to be. Right there, I’d rub his neck again and then send him off away from me. Those are pretty delicate spots right there, and it’s all about how much you do and when you do it. You can really help the horse make a big change [Pp: 305, 306] in those moments when he’s real interested in you, or you can miss the little things and it’ll take a real long time after that before he’ll be interested in looking you up again.
When it gets so you can send him away [Pp: 355, 313] and he isn’t afraid of you, that’s got quite a little meaning to the horse. When he’s not worried about you coming after him, he’s liable to be in a better frame of mind to feel of you and you can learn better together that way.
You work on both sides of the horse. This is important. Most people go up and bridle or halter and saddle him from the left side. A lot of times the horse gets so he only wants to watch out of one eye, but you can get him over that. Get both eyes good.”
From: "True Horsemanship Through Feel” By Bill Dorrance with Leslie Desmond