Friday, April 6, 2018

The "Thing" the Horse is So Full of and Needs From Their Person

I've returned to the book, True Unity: Willing Communication Between Horse and Human, by Tom Dorrance, to read and interpret his message from this new lens of progress Leah and I have made. I can't say enough how important his first chapter, "Feel the WHOLE Horse," is to having a real relationship and partnership.  I'm reading it again and again and trying to let it all soak into my mind.

Here are a few quotes that really speak to me, and maybe they will speak to you, too.

"The rider needs to recognize the horse's need for self-preservation in MIND, BODY, and, the third factor, SPIRIT.  He needs to realize how the person's approach can ASSURE the horse that he can have his self-preservation and still respond to what the person is asking him to do."

"It's just as well  not to crowd the horse if he isn't ready for it.  You keep offering, trying to help as much as you can, without troubling him too much about it. Then, there will be a day when it will all just clear right up."

"Generally, people have no idea what I'm talking about, so we need to try to figure out some way to understand this thing the horse is so full of, and that he has such a strong desire to get from the person in return. It has to be togetherness."

"The important thing is that it doesn't matter if it comes out real good or real bad.  The important thing is to try to understand what took place that caused it to be good or not so good.  There's something about that: if a person can understand what took place, then maybe he can help the horse get in a position that will come out better, that will help him avoid getting into a position that's not so good."

"People have to rely on themselves. I tell people that it has to come right out of the inside of themselves, the end result. There can be some direction, or support and encouragement, but the feel itself can come from no one but themselves."

"I'm not trying to get everything completed, but to get enough there to where if the horse gets troubled he will come to me; or to where I can get him to come to me for security and cover.  Without that foundation I feel very insecure with a horse." 

"Sometimes the horse doesn't seem to understand, but it doesn't seem to bother him too much.  Other horses, if they don't understand--they get bothered all over."

"I like to work from where the horse is, to get him to be able to operate wherever and whenever I need him."

"The longer I live, the more I see in animals--about how they operate. No horse wants to be hurt.  They will do things that will cause themselves to get hurt, but they usually don't head for that--that isn't what their intention is. They are no different from the rest of us.  They have a strong sense of self-preservation."

"If the inside of a person or a horse is bothered, it's for sure that the outside is going to show it."

"I didn't used to elaborate on the third factor, spirit; I only just mentioned it.  But I've begun to wonder about it in the last few years.  Maybe if people got to realizing the importance of that part of the horse, they could get more feel and understanding from right in the horse's innards.  Then they could try to figure out the mental and the physical parts."

"I've felt this in horses all  my life, but I don't think I realized how important it was to try to calm that inward part down. I was always working on the surface, both mentally and physically--not getting right down to the inside of the horse."

"Riders may want to get an answer to their questions right early--on the surface.  I want them to try to figure out something; I want them to work at figuring out the whole horse--his mind, body, and spirit.  Maybe they will figure out what they are missing."


  1. Thank you for posting this. I need to reread that book again too. But I lent it to someone and have no idea where it is- I guess I'll just have to buy it again :)

    1. It is good enough to read again, and again, and again, and again.....forever. It has never seemed so true to me as now. ❤️

  2. All great insights from a master horseman. All of the quotes should speak to everyone who wants a true partnership with their horse.

    1. Yes, I agree. That chapter is, by far, my favorite in the book and almost good enough to stand alone. I’m reading, “Responsive and Right On”, now, and it’s a bit more difficult to digest. He’s talking about when to release pressure, which he says is right before the yield. The rider has to feel when the horse is getting ready to yield and release so the horse moves into it freely. Also, he talks about setting it up so the horse puts pressure on himself, rather than the rider putting the pressure on him. I’m just going to have to read this over and over. There’s really only three chapters in the book and the rest is Tom’s students reflecting about him.

  3. I shall have to check out the book. This resonates with me after building my relationship with Carmen. She gets quite upset if she doesn't understand or thinks she did something 'wrong'.

    1. So does Leah! They are emotional horses. This quote:

      "Sometimes the horse doesn't seem to understand, but it doesn't seem to bother him too much. Other horses, if they don't understand--they get bothered all over."

      Leah is the one who gets bothered.

      Working on the gate, I could feel her heart beating really hard. It made me realize she was scared, her self-preservation was going, and I felt bad for her. So, I slowed it all down and waited for that heart to beat normally before I asked again. And it worked. It took longer, but it got lasting results.

      “I don't think I realized how important it was to try to calm that inward part down” That resonates with me, and it sounds like you, too, with Carmen.

    2. Yes exactly. I find myself saying to her”it’s ok, it’s just a mistake and we can fix it “

  4. Sounds like a book I need to get, for many reasons.

    1. It’s a good read. Let me know what you think. 👍

  5. Yes! Sometimes it's hard to truly understand what Tom (and Ray) are really saying. I am so happy that you're reading his wisdom. In order to truly get it, we have to live it...and read their words again and again and again. Truth. Rock on sister!! You are on the right path.


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