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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. 

1. Exhilarating riding & connection with the horse

The true exhilaration for me was never in the risk though. It was in the connection with the horse. A vital connection, and one that carried us through these adventures unscathed for years. How inspiring it was then to discover through Leslie that this was only the tip of the iceberg…

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2. Calle’s maneuverability at the gallop

Calle was showing me the feel of Leslie’s foundation: the feel of release...

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3. For lightness in a ride, ride with lightness

There is a weight to that plan to use pressure somehow, which left me. And when the feel of release is in your veins, every horse you encounter seems to know it...

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4. Adjusting to Calle and the reciprocal feel of release

It is astonishing that the feel in such common-place presentations to the horse, is often really quite contrary to what we actually mean the horse to do!

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5. Calle’s clinic finale – exquisite ‘feel and release’… the proof is in the pudding

The feel was of a horse wholly available in every cell, tuned into my intent, for any maneuver I had in mind, with optimal athleticism and the most accurate and sure footwork imaginable...

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6. The source of genuine lightness is already in the horse and available

With shoulders elevated, hips coiled and life released with accuracy and poise, each horse is exactly and directly where needed, in order to follow the feel uniquely experienced in that particular moment. Calle’s feel under saddle retained these characteristics...

 

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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