ChaseBugBanner

You are here: Home Resources to Explore

Karen's Articles

Karen writes about philosophy, technique and shares stories about horses that have touched her life.

Subcategories

  • The Feel of Release: RIDING CALLE

    With the California fires still smoldering, we camped out for a week in the desert for a full immersion trainers' retreat, in the foot-hills of Southern California. It was my first trainers' clinic with Leslie Desmond in 2007, and led to many others. Leslie covered so much, each day a 10 hour day, followed by various topics around the camp fire in the evenings. And I craved more still - finally I had found what I had been seeking, for what felt like an eternity.

    Leslie surely "threw me in the deep end" on day one - at a gallop on her own beloved "Calle". It was a rare opportunity to be sure, and one for which I will forever be grateful. It was pivotal and changed how I handle horses and ride, just about overnight. I include this collection of articles, unedited from that time, and loaded with the fresh expression of the deep shifts that I made in my horsemanship. 

    Article Count:
    11
  • Young and Troubled Horse Handling

    Seven trainers from Colorado, Ohio, Tennessee, Italy, Sweden and the UK, all mentored by Leslie, came together for six days to start colts under Leslie’s guidance at Flying D Ranch in Bozeman, Montana. This clinic in 2008 was a defining one for me, shaped by a superb, though troubled, two-year-old, sorrel filly named Spring.

    Spring was apt to launch unexpectedly, teeth bared at anyone who came within a few feet of her body. It did not take much. She also struck and kicked with lightning speed, on a hair trigger.

    Spring was assigned to me for six days, during which she connected me to a more instinctive sense of feel - forever. There was no room for doubt, second-guessing, or 'getting in your head'. I will remember her always for helping me extend and weave together the "threads of feel" and launch a canvas for the next evolution in my horsemanship and understanding of what Bill meant by "Feel, Timing and Balance."

    I include here a collection of articles, unedited from that time, to share as best I know how, the immense richness of that week, both in terms of how she "raised the bar" and how we worked things out, but also for the rare opportunities that arose to see Leslie's masterful use of creativity within principle.

    These articles include philosophy, principle and many illustrated examples of how to build a feel and release foundation.

    Article Count:
    20
  • THE BAD EGG? “Well she’s an Appy Mare… What do you Expect? "

    Since I chose to incorporate Feel and Release into my horse handling and riding, I see horses very differently - from the inside, I guess, in a way I did not before, nor truly could I have quite imagined. When we stop judging our horse's try (as in, does his try qualify for a release or treat yet, or... to put it another way, is he right enough, or still too wrong), and for that matter our own, and just start with what is, and shape the good intent accessible in human and equine, things that seem like huge challenges can often melt away in moments.

    Every horse I work with touches me in some way and every one has something to teach. But once in a while, there is one that moves everyone present, and what they show you just stays with you. This is the story of an Appaloosa mare who did just that. Detailed examples included!

    Article Count:
    20
  • Pressure and Release, or Just Release?

    For those of you who have had the opportunity to watch Leslie Desmond work with a horse, you will likely appreciate that spending aweek at Equine Affaire, with Leslie and six horses (two my own), as a first exposure, was nothing short of mind-blowing. I wrote this afterwards, in order to better process what I had seen. Leslie apprenticed with Bill Dorrance for four years, while co-authoring the classic "True Horsemanship Through Feel". I have never known her to miss the opportunity at a public event to express her gratitude to Bill and credit him for teaching her this approach of Feel and Release. Bill passed on just a few weeks after their book was published.

    Article Count:
    7
  • Martial Arts
    Article Count:
    1
  • Magazine Articles
    Article Count:
    1

Mark Rashid

RashidBookCover

"I see an 'opening' as anything that allows us to help guide, however briefly, an individual in the direction we ultimately would like to go. An 'opening' can be, and often is, a very subtle form of communication between horse and rider that can easily slip past us if we're not paying attention. 'Openings' can and do work both ways. [...] It amazes me just how small an 'opening' can actually be, whether working with horses or with people, and how easy it can be to create an 'opening' when one is needed."

Mark Rashid

"I truly believe developing the ability to see and use 'openings' effectively is only one piece of what one might refer to as the 'harmony in horsemanship' puzzle. When this idea of understanding 'openings' is brought together with the understanding of two other simlar ideas - making a connection with another indvidual, and the role distance plays in overall communication - I believe it is then that harmony in horsemanship becomes a much less daunting concept for us."

Mark Rashid

Leslie Desmond

LDaudiobook

"Bill knew about a place I did not know existed, or could exist, between a horse and a human being [...] Bill included each one of my horses in that information exchange. Over the course of many months,... he took each one by its lead rope and, later, by the bridle reins. Using what he called his 'better feel', Bill showed me and each of them exactly what he meant by what he did [...] It was not long after I made the switch from force when needed (often) to always customizing the feel I offered to a horse, that two tough horses I had misunderstood for years developed into my most reliable mounts."

Leslie Desmond

The lightest hands carry intent that is recognized instantly by the horse, as seen in the maneuvers he chooses to make with his feet. Whether that horse is ridden or handled, the lightest hands can purposefully influence the speed, direction and sequence of each foot with accuracy, in a manner that is reflected in the horse's body and on his face.

Leslie Desmond

Bill Dorrance

bilsbook

"The Real Masters Understood Feel [...] For example, De Kerbrech, (French officer in the cavalry of Napoleon III) really understood horses. He had it fixed up so the horse could succeed. [...] The first time I read Beudant's book was in the 1950s. The way he explained things, there was no doubt in my mind about what a person needed to do to get these little things working for them and their horse."

Bill Dorrance

“Feel, timing and balance: sometimes it’s best to talk about feel, timing and balance separately, and to learn how to apply each thing separately on the start. But when you apply these three things a little later in your training, then you see that each one of these things supports the other. They are interconnected and all three are real important. You really can’t get along without all three.”

Bill Dorrance

Faverot de Kerbrech

FaverotBookCover

“...plus le deplacement du poids est facile dans tous les sens, plus l'equilibre est parfait. En vertue de ce principe, on dit que le cheval est 'en equilibre' quand de simples indications suffisent au cavalier pour modifier a son gre la disposition du poids sur ses colonnes de soutien”

Faverot de Kerbrech

[Translation: ...the easier it is to shift the weight in any direction, the more perfect the balance. By virtue of this principle, the horse is 'in balance' when a simple indication from the rider is sufficient to modify the distribution of weight across the columns of support (four quarters) accordingly]

Duke of Newcastle

CavendishBookCover

"You must in all Airs follow the strength, spirit, and disposition of the horse, and do nothing against nature; for art is but to set nature in order, and nothing else."

William Cavendish, Duke of Newcastle

"A confrontational approach ‘Astonishes the Weak Horse […] makes a Furious horse Madd; makes a Resty Horse more Resty […] and Displeases all sorts of Horses’. The alternative however is not ‘to Sit Weak […] but to Sit Easie’, in the understanding that ‘The Horse must know you are his Master’"

William Cavendish, Duke of Newcastle