I recently got a copy of "True Horsemanship Through Feel" by Bill Dorrance and I am loving it. This new addition to my (sizable) library has made me think that I should expand my "Gems from Alois" posts to include other notable quotations. So here we go, my first entry in "Thoughts on Horsemanship."
Misuse of the Lead Rope
"I disapprove of jerking or snapping that lead rope because the horse doesn't have an opportunity to feel of you if you do that. That valuable connection with the horse is lost between pulls when a person gets to sort of jerking on that rope for one reason or another. And that sort of jerking motion is usually connected to emotion in a person that isn't the best. We could call that frustration. When a person is acting like this, a horse doesn't have a chance to get with them, because the feel being offered isn't there long enough to have any good meaning for him. His guesswork and self-preservation will start to figure into things because that jerking will kind of upset him mentally. It comes so quick and fast. The horse can't be sure what it means when a person's feel is excessive and then gets replaced with a full release, and then comes in there again so sharp and so fast, over and over again. I've seen people do this. Some people might think by doing this they're getting something accomplished, but the horse isn't set up to understand what he's supposed to do in response to a feel like this. He isn't geared for this in his thinking.
We want things to be real clear between a horse and the person handling him. We want to stay away from any mix-up for the horse concerning force or fear, so your feel must be applied in a way that he can understand, without any part of force or fear coming in there. Some people might need some time to think over this subject and I'm in hopes they do, because this is so important to the horse. It's also real important to the person's future with any horse.
...Those releases that are part of any jerking of the horse's mouth or head just encourage more of the thing that person doesn't want. This type of handling is very confusing for the horse. And, of course, a person who does this is confused about things from the horse's point of view. There's a need for concern in this, because too much of this activity can lead to resentment or fear in the horse, which is usually the cause of dangerous and unreliable behavior in those horses. It's unnecessary and avoidable. If people could remember that any jerking on the horse just erodes whatever confidence he might have had in the human before that, I'm in hopes they'll be willing to try something more fitting to him."
"True Horsemanship Through Feel"