Sunday, May 4, 2014

Focus Becomes Stronger With Use

Dorrence and other truly great horseman have written and spoken about the difficult concept of "feel." Feel is easy to demonstrate and nearly impossible to define.

My poor effort to come up with a definition is that "feel" is the ability to produce movement in a horse by wanting the horse to make that movement.

I have come to believe that there is an important precursor to achieving "feel." I think first one must achieve true focus.

Focus, as I use the term, means the ability to concentrate one's senses to the degree that one is able to close down all other senses while redirecting the energy of those senses in the one to be heightened.

Or phrased differently, concentration that allows one to block out all distractions. Focus is reached when one is able to direct one's eyesight to the degree that one might see the tip of the nose on the face of another person without seeing any other part of the face.

This kind of focus is part of what makes it possible to hit a baseball thrown at 100 miles per hour or to hit a bull's eye consistently with an arrow at 30 yards.

Focus comes easier for some people than for others. People who talk fast and talk a lot find achieving focus very difficult. People who spend a great deal of time talking about themselves find achieving focus impossible.

But those who are steady of eye and of movement find focus much easier. Chloe, shown above with Samson, a formerly wild Corolla, is predisposed towards finding focus. Though she has limited exposure to the horses she shows the same kind of focus that I have seen in Samantha, Lydia, Brent, Lido, Ashley and a handful of others.With experience she will be a first rate horse trainer.

People do not understand focus, but horses do. Focus gets stronger with use. On many occasions I have thought that I was alone in a round pen while training only to notice, as I leave, that several people have been standing there the entire time.

Some athletes call it being in the "zone." What ever one calls it, it is  frequency that horses communicate on and it is a channel that great horseman can all tune into at will.

But once again, this is a truth that generates no cash, therefore it is not taught. No money can be made selling videos that tell one to learn to shut up and focus, so it is never taught. It is very liberating to be able to simply teach truth without regard to profit.

I wish more of the big name clinicians had that freedom.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Feel..Teeth grindingly difficult subject to describe. I have often heard various teachers and instructors wish they could reach out and put the thought into the student's head. This is one of those things.

I am slowly begining to understand what Dorrance, Brannaman, and Hunt are talking about when they tell you to count a horse's steps..left front, right rear, right front, right rear...and so on. I do not believe so much they are trying to get the student to understand the gait, but to bring the student's mind and body into rhythm with the horse's and to build their focus on the horse's movements. A 'for instance' is in quarter passing a horse, neutral rein with gentle bumps to the right, right leg off the horse, and every time the horse's right rear hoof strikes the ground a little bump with the left leg, and sharp focus 45 degrees to the right of the horse's head. This gives the horse a place to easily move to away from pressure, and keeps him in balance. (That was a mouthful wasn't it?) See? hard to get into words, but very simple, elegant and beutiful when executed by a rider who is dialed in with their horse. It takes time to learn, it takes time just messing about with the horse, and it takes however much time it takes. Relax, don't focus so much on "I have to get him through trotting departures so I can start him on the lift and raise."
No, relax your body, and mind, you and that hore have no place to be that is more important than right here and right, relax and decide the horse wants to be over >there< create a little pressure opposite that destination and >look< there like you have laser beams for eyes and you want to burn a hole in it..consistently, and the horse will learn to key on your focus..and will begin to go there almost as soon as you think about it.

Chloe seems to understand the concept of just be right here with the horse right now...there are no more important moments than these. Chloe is learning to take that momentary focus and turn it into the focus of motion..and I am betting that it will not take very long.