Q: “Are there some people who will just never "get" this?”
Bill: “I don´t like to criticize people who have very little to offer a horse. It´s kind of a balance [Pg: 300] you need in there, and it´s really important to remember that most people are doing the best they know how, so we wouldn´t speak about fault in any case. There are two kinds of criticism. One is constructive criticism, which I think is very valuable, and the other is hurtful or condemning and does not inspire a person to change. I´m really only interested in that first kind because it all gets down to the individual - the individual horse and the individual person. What happens between so many different horses and people makes it very hard for one set of words to be applied to everybody. But there´s a set of words that will fit just about anybody. That´s where the adjustable part of instructing comes in, and a good instructor [Pg: 331] is a really important part of getting onto this.
Even when a person can really good help, there are two parts to this. You need to want that help a lot, and that help has to be available when you need it. When you´re getting started, you need to be around somebody quite a few times who is more experienced than you are. Get as much help and as many ideas as you can from other people, and then use your better judgment as to what part of it fits. You´ve got to see whether it will work for you or it won´t. You have to be the one able to do the editing. there are lots of people out there with plenty of information to offer you all right, but there are not a lot of instructors [Pg: 331] who can explain it in a way that others can understand. There´s a surplus of them who will tell you what to do, and not be able to show you how to do it.
There could be a lot of reasons for this. Maybe they don´t get it, or they haven´t had an opportunity to be at the same place that the beginner is. Some fellas are just better working with horses than with people, but people ask them for help anyway because they see that these people can get results they admire. One problem that sure comes in there is when the person doing the demonstrating can´t get those ideas about how to get a certain thing done across to the people in a way that´s useful to them. Sometimes a person can get information that turns out to be really not useful at all. This can happen because that instructor [Pg: 331] is lacking in some areas. I've also seen where the person who wants to learn is really way off in what they thought they saw, or heard, or understood. but the person right next to them might understand it the way liable to get it applied straight away. That's because no two people are the same. That's the main reason why it's so beneficial to a person who's starting out to have a chance to handle a horse that's already been taught to operate real smooth, through feel [Pp: 318 - 321] . When this can happen, it reduces those feelings of doubt that come in for a person about how a horse is supposed to feel to them when he's operating that better way.
And then there are instructors [Pg: 331] out there who are more interested in starting those horses and students working on up-the-line ways and bypassing all this part down at the base, where we're talking about. The place we're talking about is quite a bit further below where a lot of people are wanting to work. There are all kinds of reasons a person feels this way, but those reasons don't matter. What matters is that the horse doesn't understand it when they don't start at the beginning."
Q: “What advice would you give a new horse owner?”
Bill: “My advice would be to learn to feel [Pp: 318 - 321] of that horse."
Q: “What if a horse rears and runs by a new owner in the beginning, and that person experiences fear?”
Bill: “If that happens, then for sure that horse isn't feeling of that person. If he comes around the person that way, why then he's going to be doing some other things that aren't the best. And someone lacking experience with horses might have good reason to fear one, especially after something like this.
A person will want to try to keep from getting hurt and keep their horse from getting hurt, too. So it's always nice for an inexperienced person to have some supervision at the start, from someone with more experience. When the person who's a new owner learns about feel [Pp: 318 - 321] and can get it applied to a horse, they won't be so likely to feel afraid. Until then, It's natural that they would feel this uncomfortable way.
Q: “How does a new owner, or someone just starting with this approach, keep from getting discouraged?”
Bill: “There's no harm in asking that one. If you're learning [Pp: 334, 335], why you wouldn't get discouraged. If you aren't learning [Pp: 334, 335], then you've got good reason to feel discouraged, and the most likely reason is that you either don't have good instruction or you've got a horse that's too far above or below where you are, and you don't know how to get with him. You know, a person goes to school for eight years just to get out of the eighth grade, and it seems like so many people think they should have things in the Horsemanship [Pg: 330] department figured out in a few sessions. They need to take the time it takes. If a person is discouraged, I'd ask them what was causing that, but I'd already have an idea that it could be several things because I've seen a lot of this. In most cases, it's either a lack of understanding of what's taking place, or else the person is short on time and likely to always be. Or, they could have a horse that doesn't fit them or an instructor [Pg: 331] that isn't fitting them real well. Why any of these things could be just caused for some discouragement. But, if they're talking to me about this problem, I'd know if it was the horse or the instructor [Pg: 331], or it could just be the person isn't capable of understanding what' taking place. And you'd be sure to stop before you said that because that would get the person even more discouraged than they were, and for sure you don't want that.
Of course, the best way to answer this is to have the horse and the rider right there in front of you, and then there'd be a limit to the speculating a fella'd need to do on this subject."
From: "True Horsemanship Through Feel” By Bill Dorrance with Leslie Desmond