MASTERY IN THE MAKING
Many times, I heard Tom Dorrance say, “I don’t have anything that anyone else couldn’t have.” And then he would add, “But what I have done, I have done by myself for myself.”
This provides encouragement to any student in two ways: one, to know that their time on the plateau will be worthwhile; and two, to know that they do not need—they will never need—a “trainer.” No one in the 5,000-yearlong history of horsemanship has ever succeeded in learning to ride or in training a horse by doing only what their instructor told them. It is imperative that students feel free to work and explore in any direction. The only forbidden actions are those deliberately designed to hurt the animal; beyond this, any doctrine is deadly that says certain movements or exercises are “wrong.”
Horses have an enormous potential repertoire; the future master is the one who is willing to explore all of it!
His nametag says Kevin—a young cowboy participating in a Ray Hunt clinic in the early 2000s. Here is the serene face of a master in the making; the horse’s expression reflects the rider’s. Kevin teaches his horse to step back one step at a time, by “feeling through the mind, through the mouth, to the feet.” Above right: This wonderful photo of a lovely, soft collected trot was sent in by one of the correspondents at my online forum. This is—or ought to be—the daily norm: rhythmic, powerfully impulsive, balanced, thoroughly on the aids yet on draping reins; free of any strain; calm and smiling. Literally any type of competency or performance can be built upon a well-practiced foundation such as this.