The contents of this DVD present the work of Tom Dorrance, an extraordinarily gifted horseman. His unique approach was founded on the belief that the human needs to think more and do less – to feel what the horse is feeling and operate from where the horse is.
This DVD is not a “How To” instructional guide; it is about trying to understand the essence of Tom Dorrance’s work. How to apply his approach to horses in a way that will help the viewer work toward the “True Unity and Willing Communication between Horse and Human: at any level.
Below is a synopsis of themes covered in this 2-Disc set.
Feel, Timing & Balance
In an interview, Tom is asked to elaborate on the chapter entitled ‘Feel the Whole Horse’ from his book True Unity. Tom provides a beautiful illustration of the spirit of the horse and what it means regarding the communication between the horse and the human. Filmed near his home in Salinas, California during the summer of 1999.
Tom discusses the chapter ‘Emphasizing Some Vital Concepts’ from his book True Unity and what it means to get the message to the feet as well as preparing to get in position for the transition. Filmed in September 2002.
Trying to Explain: Feel, Timing & Balance
Once again Tom uses his delightful ability to illustrate deep concepts with simple pictures. Here he explains the development of feel, timing and balance – with a broom.
A participant at a clinic in Aubrey, Texas asks for help in the turn around. He feels that his horse has trouble placing his feet and moving his shoulder. His horse sucks back and bumps his knees. Watch as Tom guides the horse and human to slow down and consider the roles of weight and timing.
Overbending, Directing, Supporting
A participant at the same clinic also has questions regarding the turn around. Tom helps him to direct, support, and encourage the horse but not to insist. He points out that when the horse is overbent in the neck, it causes a sag in the shoulders.
Giving the Horse Confidence
Tom works with the same horse and rider combination from the ‘Turn Around’ chapter to build confidence with the flag.
Helping The Horse Round Out
A young filly has trouble stepping underneath herself and tracking up with the hindquarters. Tom guides the rider to help her find balance and impulsion starting from the hind end.
Poem: “Wise Old Owl”
An owl lived in an oak
The more he saw the less he spoke
The less he spoke the more he heard
Oh, why can’t I be more like that wise old bird?
Teaching and Learning
Tom: “The learning has to come from the inside of the person and the inside of the horse. People are looking for some big thing and it’s just some little thing that makes the big difference.”
Fixing Things Up To Let The Horse Find It
The same bay filly featured in ‘Helping The Horse Round Out’ works on developing forward energy in straightness.
Poem: “Riding School”
They say in riding schools
They have a regular book of rules.
The man that wrote the book explains
The way to sit and hold your reins,
And other lessons facts reveal
About your elbows and your heels.
You read and practice then decide,
If you have really learned to ride.
A cow man doesn’t give a care
How you ride just so you’re there
Nor how you hold your hands and feet
The main thing is to hold your seat.
You can learn more from a buckin’ hoss
Than any school you’ll come across.
For you and him can soon decide
What’s underneath each other’s hide.
Feel The Whole Horse
“Try it before it happens. Fix it up so that it don’t happen. How do you know it’s going to happen until it’s happened? This is where the little things come in. Learn to feel the whole horse, not just one little part of it.”
Squaring The Horse
Sometimes a horse can move forward in a turn around and get strung out. Tom coaches a rider on how to keep the horse ‘square’ so that he is in position to do the job.
Crossing A Tarp
Tom presents his clinic participants with a tarp. Watch as the entire group, with seasoned horses and colts alike, get ready to cross a tarp.
Overexposing A Horse
“Now this is where it tests your patience. Makes me think of the story of the fellow who was so impatient that he’d get all bothered and let himself get in all kinds of turmoil. And one day he was at his worst and just about when he got up to where he couldn’t stand it anymore he said, ‘Lord, give me patience. And I want it right now!’”
“Now this, if it was just getting across the tarp, we would be going at it a different way. But we’re trying to help these horses and these people realize what that horse is about and what’s on the inside of it, not just on the surface.”
More On… Crossing A Tarp
The riders continue to work with the tarp, some horses having more or less trouble than others. Tom coaches one rider on where he needs to be in order to successfully lead his horse across.
“All these things at the time that the horse needs it. It don’t take much if it’s there soon enough. Before it happens.”
Exploring & Giving The Horse Time
A rider poses a question that we’ve all asked ourselves at one time, “Is there a point where you assume that we’re talking about belligerence [in the horse] and you actually do more to get the job done?”
Using A Support Horse
A roan filly who is particularly uncertain about the tarp is supported by other horses and riders until she is confident enough to make the journey on her own.
About Learning in a Clinic
“You have all kinds of time to do these things once you get the exposure of seeing what can be done. If you come here expecting to learn a lot while you’re here, it probably won’t happen. But if you’re thinking about the different exposures that you get on different things in different ways while you’re here, when you get home you can experiment and explore. And there’s where the real learning comes in.”
Working On Feel & Timing
At the same clinic in Aubrey, Texas, Tom helps a rider whose horse is particularly troubled by the tarp. Together, they explore different methods of setting the horse up so that he can discover his own ability.
Learning How to Present Ourselves
“We’re trying to figure out how to present ourselves to the horse in a way that’s understandable to the horse. When a person’s thinking of it that way, they will be taking care of these things within themselves that is needed for the horse. We try to think of the horse first and what’s going on within the horse and then work back to the person and then the person tries to figure out how to present themselves in a way that’s understandable to the horse. Now those are just words, until they’re understood.”
Keep the Feet Going Straight & Forward
A continuation from ‘Working On Feel & Timing’, Tom works with the same horse to develop confidence and obedience, this time under a different rider.
Leading From the Feet
In the third installment, following ‘Working On Feel & Timing’ and ‘Keep the Feet Going Straight & Forward’, Tom and his help continue to patiently present themselves to the horse in different ways. Watch as the transformation in the horse as he learns to trust and make the change.
Learning to Feel the Whole Horse
A recap from the previous tarp crossing segments. As Tom puts it, “I like to quit when you can help [the horse] feel like a winner.”
Poem: “Got That”
I know that you believe you understand what you think I said, but I am not sure you realize that what you heard is not what I meant.
Disc 1 – Chapter Selection
• Feel, Timing & Balance
• True Unity
• Trying to Explain: Feel, Timing & Balance
• Turn Around
• Overbending, Directing, Supporting
• Giving the Horse Confidence
• Helping The Horse Round Out
• Poem: “Wise Old Owl”
• Teaching and Learning
• Fixing Things Up To Let The Horse Find It
• Poem: “Riding School”
• Feel The Whole Horse
• Squaring The Horse
• Crossing A Tarp
• Overexposing A Horse
• More On… Crossing A Tarp
• Exploring & Giving The Horse Time
• Using A Support Horse
Disc 2 – Chapter Selection
• About Learning in a Clinic
• Working On Feel & Timing
• Learning How to Present Ourselves
• Keep the Feet Going Straight & Forward
• Leading From the Feet
• Learning to Feel the Whole Horse
• Poem: “Got That”
Important Viewer Note:
Because certain segments of this DVD were recorded under crowd conditions at actual clinics, the sound and picture quality is impaired in a few places for short periods of time. However, these sections have purposefully been kept in this DVD because of their importance to continuity and content.