MAS­TERY IN THE MAK­ING

EQUUS - - Conformation Insights -

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.

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