A Few Thoughts on Feel and Timing
We all remember that scene in An Officer and a Gentleman: Sargent Foley/Lou Gossett Jr. is screaming at Zack Mayo/Richard Gere, trying to get him to DOR (drop out) of Navy Flight School.
Foley: I want your DOR!
Mayo: I ain’t gonna quit!
Foley: You can forget it, you’re out!
Mayo: Don’t you do it – don’t! . . . . I got nowhere else to go!
So here’s the corollary to horse training: if we start out at the highest level of pressure, and the horse doesn’t respond the way we want him to . . .
. . . . we got nowhere else to go!
This was a mistake I was making with the flag as a backup aid, until I took my horse to a Warwick Schiller clinic, and he pointed it out to me. During groundwork, I was going in with the flag too big and fast, it was more than my horse needed, but at the same time if she hadn't moved her feet, it would not have been enough and there would be nowhere else to go.
We should always be striving for using the least amount of pressure we need to use, therefore we need to start out at the least amount it takes, then go from there.
It can be a fine line between not doing enough with our aids, and doing too much. It takes time, practice, patience and knowledge to get our feel and timing right, with each horse that we work with.
We need to be asking ourselves; how little can we do, with our hands, our legs, and all our artificial aids, to get in synch with our horses, to allow them to be our partners.
The concept of feel is simple in thought, but complex in practice. If you think you might not be using the right amount of pressure during groundwork, then video a session with your horse. It will give you a different perspective in which you can watch your reactions as well as your horse’s. Keep practicing, you'll get there.
I can't say it better than either Bill or Tom Dorrance.
At first it seems pretty hard to keep track of the feel and the timing and what the horse’s thoughts are.
Later on you don’t have to think so much about it.
It gets like breathing.
~ Tom Dorrance ~
Yours Truly at Fort Worden, the filming location for An Officer and a Gentleman.
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