Q: How do I know if my horse is feeling of me?
Bill: It’s easy to tell. You’ll know by the way that horse is responding, by his looks and everything about his whole appearance. If he doesn’t go where you want him to go, or if you see that his feet are moving when you want him to stand still, then he’s not feeling of you. When he stops feeling of you, it’s liable to be because you’re presenting the feel to him in a way that he doesn’t understand. If that happens, then you better go along with him.
If you travel with a horse and then allow him to join you, then he can learn to feel of you as you both travel around together, and we might call it traveling the long way around. We’d call it that because the shortcut way might not fit [Pp. 322-323] the horse you’re working with. It won’t fit most of them, anyway. There’s really no telling how long it might take to get things straightened out if a fella ran into trouble spots trying to go straight at something above where that horse could understand. Where it concerns a horse, just about anything could happen. But when a person goes along with the horse, that’s how a horse will get ready to go along with the person.
Naturally, he’ll want you to get with him and do what he thinks he should do, but if he’s wanting to take over, that doesn’t fit a person very well, and that’s the thing I guard against all the time. I give that horse a feel that says, “stay with my feel.” It’s not a harsh feel. I like to do just as little as I possibly can, and always be thinking ahead to a spot in the future, but not too far away in the future — because on the spur of the moment, I may need a spot where that horse can have the room he needs to maneuver, so he has a better chance to stay with my feel. As soon as he learns to get with your feel, he’ll be under your control. If you haven’t had an opportunity to learn this, then you’d continue to think you have to make the horse do something, instead of helping him do it. Before that can come through, he has to be reassured that he can find what you want without being forced.
From: "True Horsemanship Through Feel" by Bill Dorrance and Leslie Desmond
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