From: "True Horsemanship Through Feel” By Bill Dorrance with Leslie Desmond
Q: “If there is one main thing that people can do to learn this, what would you say that is?”
Bill: “I'd say it takes time to learn about feel. It takes even more time to learn how to operate with feel, and a good horseman knows this. Those aren't the same thing. One (the concept of feel) is just ideas that have no experience behind them, and the other is the experience you get from doing something successfully. That's the part that becomes your knowledge. There's a lot of value in the independence a person gains from this. After that, your better judgment
[Pg. 333] comes in about how to progress up the line from there on your own, using the new experiences you've added onto your foundation. And where you'd be thinking or speaking about the progress of your learning [Pg. 334], it's no different for a horse. It works the same way for him.
This approach has to be taught going real slow from the start, and staying slow enough to where that slowness [Pg. 365] has some actual value. It can be done right or not, even if it's slow. But the chance of a horse remembering what he's supposed to be learning is a lot better when a person isn't trying to rush the results. And if the person is going slow, why he's liable to see when that horse is missing the part he's trying to get across. And if he sees this, it would likely be due to his ideas of being organized in a way that prepares the horse for the future, and the job he'll have for that horse someday. I'd rather think that preparing [Pg 334] the horse is the whole point of all that we're doing with them, and not anything else. In most cases, it's the slowest part that I see getting left out. It's a real disadvantage to a horse when this happens. Of course some people are going to realize this, and they will backtrack to try and put something better in there for the horse when they find out that they missed these real important things on the start. Those are the people were trying to help. If they never heard about these ideas or saw some of these things demonstrated, no one can know that they ought to go this slow, and work with feel. But this approach isn't going to fit [Pg. 322] everyone, we know that.
Most people just want to go way too fast. People have said that you don't need to start where I’m wanting to start. And maybe they'll keep on saying this, but the way I have in mind, well, it's just a different way and there's one thing I know about it, it works.
Let's say, if you take a fella who isn't at the beginning, or even in the middle of the road, but already has quite a bit of experience. Well, when he gets onto this (working through feel) he'll really start to get someplace with his horses. With this working for him, those horses can take him right up the line. I don't think there's any question about that. Of course, that’d be only if he wants them to. But, using feel this way, a horse can sure take a fella where he's wanting to go, all right.
It's a big problem for those horses when the person handling and riding them doesn't know that feel even exists in thought. This feel part is the foundation, and I don't think there's any question about this being important. It isn't much different, maybe, than how you’d want to go about building a house. If you miss out on the foundation, the farther up you go, the more trouble you'll be in. And that's the way it is with the horse. That's why so many people think they have such a big problem with their horse, when really it's the horse that has the problem understanding what those people want him to do, because they haven't built in that foundation for him.”