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Www.harrywhitney.com gets makeover
Harry Whitney’s website has gotten a makeover! Please take a peek to enjoy new features and the very-Harry “Bunkhouse Wall.”
Word of warning, however, it is only the website that got a makeover. Harry can still be found in the same straw hat you saw him in last week, last year...well, last time you saw him.
In this issue:
Burning Questions That Thought Thing Trails, Tears & Thoughts Happenings in Harry-ville
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This newsletter is an all-volunteer effort designed to reflect the horsemanship approach taught by Harry Whitney. While Harry will offer his thoughts and ideas, he does not take personal responsibility for the content of student contributions.
Further along the trail is released! Equestrian author and journalist, Tom Moates, returns with more lively and thought provoking adventures in his ongoing odyssey to improve his horsemanship with the patient teaching of his mentor and friend, celebrated horsemanship clinician, Harry Whitney. This anticipated follow-up to Between the Reins digs deeper into understanding Whitney’s great skill at seeing things from the horse’s point of view through Moates’ own trials. Familiar characters return to the page alongside new folks and horses, as Moates reveals the latest lessons he has gleaned from clinics across North America, horses at home in the Blue Ridge Mountains of Virginia, and other equine experiences encountered Further Along the Trail. www.tommoates.com for ordering information.
Letter from the Editor
Dear Harry-ville, I have just returned from a tour of the east—Moscow to Shanghai to Phenom Penh to Saigon and back home to DC.
Moscow in the spring
the wear, in spirit or demeanor, after being unhitched from his cart. Made me think of a Harry-ism, ‘perhaps our goal should be to leave them feeling no worse than when we took them out of the pasture this morning.’ Even on another continent, I still have Harry’s voice in my head and his lessons close to my heart. I leave for Tennessee in a few weeks to enjoy some oppressive heat, laughter and friends. Maybe learn a few more lessons about horses, too.
My horse-friends are never far and in Cambodia they had
a small breed of pony that was used primarily for hauling goods and people. As I watched one man put his pony into a nature of them both. But most impressive, was how the pony calmly walked into his small paddock appearing no worse for
small stable at the back of his home I was impressed by the kind With joy,
Sarah O’Brien, Editor
Q: An instructor told a student that her horse was this if you have time? -Georgia on my Mind
Dear Georgia, The concept of disobedience assumes there is fore knowledge of right and wrong behavior and that a choice is made to behave badly. Horses don't see things that way - they don't have the ability to judge between right and wrong. Horses see the world as a variety of choices that are either going to work out well- or not so well. If a horse makes a choice it is because, to the horse, that choice is the best choice available. It may not seem that way to the human, but for one reason or other, in the horses mind, it's the best choice.
Rather than make a value judgment and characterizing a productive to ponder what the human could do to help a horse make the choice the human desires. I think often horses have no idea what a person is asking. They just do what they think the person wants them to do, or they do what they think is best for their own welfare. Today, I understand characterizing a horse as disobedient doesn't help me or the horse. If things don't work out the way I thought they should, I ask myself what I can do to help the horse understand what I want, and I find ways to help make it easy for the horse to do what I want. Answer courtesy of Rita Riddile, a long-time student of Harry and the horse. She and her husband, Andrew, live on a peaceful farm in St. Leonard, MD where learning is encouraged and fostered: littlecovefarm.com
"disobedient". Would some of you old timers comment on horse's behavior in a pejorative way, it would be more
That Thought Thing by: Tom Moates This amazing horsemanship journey I’m undertaking (although sometimes I’m pretty sure it’s undertaking me) leads me to some quite profound connections in life. One is the interaction I enjoy with readers who have found my writing helpful, or at least entertaining. Every once in awhile one even learns about Harry and his clinics through my books or essays. Linda Davenport is one of these folks. Linda’s story is exceptional to me in part because she had the great fortune to begin her horsemanship journey years ago, and it included substantial exposure to two of the most respected horsemen ever: Tom Dorrance and Ray Hunt. She attended clinics with both of them (even clinics with the two of them together) and has worked diligently for a good chunk of her life to get better with horses, putting what she has learned over the years into practice. manship. It grabbed my curiosity that in a single clinic she had such a profound breakthrough, especially one she had been chasing for many years. I bugged her for more details of just what went on to get her this joyful.
And here’s a whole letter that gets deeper into it: Hi Tom, I NEED to tell you a couple of things that have absolutely amazed me since attending Harry's clinic in Montana! I continue to be beyond grateful and completely blown away by what I'm discovering with my horses since the dawning of "teaching a horse to leave a thought!”
Linda corresponded with me after reading my books, A Horse’s Thought and Between the Reins. A year or two later she went Just briefly, THE SOFTNESS that's there. I've been getting a "soft feel" and rode with Harry. I’m grateful she agreed to continue efor, what, at least 25 years. It's NOT THE SAME THING! Getting a mailing me to share some of her thoughts and soft feel is "mechanical." The soft feel that experiences both during and then followcomes through automatically when you have ing her first clinic with Harry. I find a horse's thought, well, how can I explain her impressions are unique because she The soft feel that comes through it — it's a thousand times softer! Wow, already was well versed from first hand automatically when you have a wow and wow again! It is really unbelievaexperience in the horsemanship of horse's thought, well, how can I ble how good they feel when they are that Tom Dorrance and Ray Hunt and had explain it — it's a thousand "with you." been actively pursuing getting better times softer! with her horses—a time span of 25 I just got back from challenging myself and years or more, so a very serious horseLily to riding in a place waaaaay out of woman—yet, she had no previous experi"our" comfort zone. It's a trail that runs along ence with Harry. a river that is thick forest with lots of underbrush. In addition, that parLinda has agreed to let me share some of the impressions ticular area is known as "Fruitvale" because of the wild apple, pear and she had and e-mailed to me. Other than deleting entire lines of nectarine trees that grow there. There are an inordinate number of bears extraneous exclamation points (!!!!!), the quotes are as she put that frequent that area, as evidenced by the frequent bear sightings and them down. bear dung every 20 feet or so alongside the trail. So, I can imagine that with the horse's sense of self-preservation, sense of smell for wild creatures, “As for Lily and me and the ‘dust clearing,’ wow, wow, etc., it is a place they would most certainly be on "high alert." Of course, and wow again!” Linda exclaimed in the first post-clinic eLily's thought would go here or there along the trail, but I was right there mail. “What an amazing breakthrough. I have to keep checking with her and could bring that thought back immediately. It was amazing to make sure I'm riding the same horse! I feel like she's feeling, how soft she would immediately get and how calm she would become when ‘Thank God you now 'get it,' so now I don't have to worry about her thought would come back to me . . . like butter. She never got tight anything anymore.’ She's just like butter, really. She just exudes once through her body. A first, a real first! peace. I don't know how else to explain it. She feels good inside! She looks at me different. When she sees me she just gets My only regret, why didn't I get this a long time ago! this wonderful, soft, mushy look on her face and she stares at me. If I die tomorrow, I will die a very happy person, having ac- God Bless! complished something I've been chasing all my life! Thank you, Linda Davenport Harry Whitney!” Okay, so Linda is a little excited here. But what struck ...Continued page 4 me when I read this e-mail from her is that this very strong positive reaction is coming from a woman who has worked seriously for more than a couple decades at actively improving her horse-
Thought Thing, cont’d.
Then Linda shared an example with a very different kind of horse she has. be things like picking up a soft feel, knowing right where all your horse’s feet are when riding, and timing releases just right. All those kinds of things are certainly aspects of getting “I have also been working with Lily's full sister (Sunshine, age better with horses, but I really believe that if you get a horse’s 8),” She wrote. “They are night and day in many respects, but thought with you, then you get all those things and everything the most amazing thing with else besides. The particulars Sunshine is—and I did talk to can be a by-product of a horse Harry about this—she's a very that is truly with you. Get the confident horse, a very bold horse’s thought with you and horse, and mentally a very be able to direct that, and strong horse, with definite you’ve got the whole horse thoughts of her own. In other right at your fingertips. words, an issue I've always had with her is, if you don't keep It is Harry’s unique your focus with her, she'll take personal understanding of this over in a nano-second! If you and his willingness to try and ask for one step, before you feel impart it to others, that gets to her foot leave the ground, the very core of bettering the you've got three steps. Do you relationship and communications between know what I mean? horses and humans. “I have to really tone down my thoughts and aids for “It is so interesting to “This is a picture of this formerly-fractious horse calmly dragging one of my fellow participants on a sled as her, or you get too me, having been skirting if she had done that every day of her life!” Linda shares much. Anyway, I've discovered around the outside precipice of about this photo. “For the record, there was a doe and with Sunshine that her head is this ‘thought thing’ for quite a fawn hiding in the trees just ahead of us, and Lily never faltered a step!” (Nick Davenport) FULL OF THOUGHTS NONSTOP, while now,” Linda said, “and now and, generally speaking, her thoughts actually falling over the edge and seeing are waaaaay ahead. If her feet can't get up with her thoughts, it with my own two eyes and, consequently, feeling it with my then she gets crooked, again in a nano-second. This is whole being. Ahhh, the layers of the proverbial onion!” especially evident when I ask for the canter/lope. If you Ahh, those layers indeed! confine her at the lope, she bunches up and gets terribly crooked because her thoughts are waaay ahead; yet, if you ask her for the lope and don't confine her, she's straight as an arrow and soft. “Playing with her thoughts has just had amazing results! In fact, I just got back from a 1-1/2 hour ride with Sunshine, and, for the first time ever (just as a simple example), she did not dive-bomb for a bite of food along the way. She's so darn quick, that it was always hard to catch her before she did that, but now she's more focused on where I am. I purposefully rode in the tallest grass I could find along the way, and kept asking for her thoughts. Just amazing! “Like I said, THIS IS JUST IMMENSE, this thought thing!” This thought thing, seems to be what connected the dots of horsemanship for Linda. It was the missing link between the many pieces she had worked with to build a better relationship with horses—those parts certainly would
This is an excerpt from Tom’s new book “Further Along the Trail” (page one). Tom Moates and his wife, Carol, live in Floyd, VA with an assortment of horses and solar power to ensure there is never a dull moment. www.Tommoates.com
Trails, Tears & Thoughts
Tom Moates' latest book arrived in my mailbox today. During a fast moving torrential downpour this afternoon, I was given the needed time out to open it up and start reading. Tom has a way of making Harry's words come alive in a powerful and inspiring way. I took a moment after reading the opening pages and the first chapter to hop skip and jump my way through a few of the chapters. I stopped after reading about how we can set up a horse to search.
by: Kathy Davis Baker
looked over at me and came over. I scratched his itchy ears and climbed down on the outside of the pen and walked to another panel. He followed along on the other side. I climbed up and sat with him. I did this a few more times, I climbed into the pen and noticed how and when my touch felt good to him or felt like an annoyance to him. I put the halter on him. I thought long and hard about how sensitive this horse was and how he very much resented being asked with too much pressure when less would do. I played around with backing him from The storm had passed and the sun had returned. I pulled on my boots energy in my body to just a slight feel on the lead. I found his tipping and headed out to see which horse would greet me at the paddock gate. point, when the pressure was more than he needed. I kept going back I had my halter in hand, I waited at the gate, eyeing Redman, Spirit and to what was it in me that I was offering to this horse. I found within me Ari. I looked at the fresh piles of manure calling my name to be picked the importance of offering him clarity and confidence. up and put in the wheelbarrow. I brought my mind back to my body and watched Ari approach me. No surprise there, Ari is a curious-inI backed him to the gate then asked him to stay ground tied while I your-face horse always anxious to see "what is in it it for him". I opened the gate and tied it back so it would stay open. Then I backed remember a couple of years ago Harry saying in so many words that him out of the gate, took his halter off and he followed me down to the when something was Ari's idea life was good for Ari. I have seen the yard gate. Overall the entire backing exercise was soft and thoughtful. flip side of this, lived it for years, Ari is often one not to feel good about Moments of his “un-okay-ness” drifted in and out of him, a stomp with a something that is not his idea. hind foot, his head moving towards me, these moments were just moments of information, he was trying to communicate to me the only "Training horses is discovering a communication appropriate for each way he knew how. I could not take those moments personally. I let him individual horse whereby we can most agreeably influence their thought know I recognized his miniscule “fitties,” and I offered to him the only to believe that they are desirous to do the very things we know we want thing I knew to offer him, that it was truly ok between us, that we to do" - Harry Whitney (Introduction page ix in the new book Further Along could do these tiny things together that I was not going to ignore his The Trail by Tom Moates) angst, but instead I was going to help him. (Every day when I go out to this horse I feel like I have to put my big girl boots on and know that How do I get my idea to become Ari's? As I stepped into the paddock expanding my comfort zone has a great capacity to increase my personal with my rope halter in hand, I thought about the feeling in me that I power. Some days, those boots stay by the porch door and I go find know Ari would feel when I presented the halter to him. Would he another horse to play with....) lower his head and accept the halter? Would he grab at it with his mouth, would he get a dull eye and maybe turn away? How would I There are times when my idea will be the one he has to go with, no if make the simple process of haltering this horse something that would ands or buts. Though right now I feel like this experimenting on feel right and good between us? My thoughts went over; taking the helping Ari discover the good deal with/in me (I have long been a not time it takes, being clear, being confident, having a softness in me. Ari so good deal for this horse) may lead me to a better understanding on lowered his head for me to put the halter on.... how to get this horse operating in a way that feels good for both of us. Ari in many ways is still an enigma but I am also discovering he has I lead him around the puddles and headed to the round pen. He was many gifts to share with me along this journey. forward in his thinking ready to get in the pen. I had grabbed some fly spray to spray him and rub it on his ears and around his eyes (flies are I have found a young woman who is willing to accept my tutelage and terrible right now). I closed the gate removed his halter and sprayed ride Ari, it should make for an interesting summer! him. He was all for this. I walked off to the middle of the pen and picked a panel in the shady side to go climb on. Would he come with Amazing what reading a few pages of Tom's new book leads to! me, would he busy his mind with other thoughts in an effort to avoid me? Would he get uptight feeling the pressure of being asked something that was not his idea? As I was heading towards the panel moving away from him, tears welled up in my eyes and there was a hitch in my breathing as I thought about how important this horse is to Kathy is the moderator of me, how much I want things to be right between us. How much he is a mirror to me. I sucked it up and climbed up on the panel to wait and What Would the Horse have see how he felt about our time together. us Do (WWHD)? A Yahoo! He meandered around half heartedly checking out some grass sprouts, he looked off into the empty field next to us. I sat there and thought about what it is I was offering to him, an invisible thread that said, “Hey I am a good deal” or one that said, “Crazy human steer clear at all costs.” Ari was very aware of me, but eventually I did let the lead rope drop against the metal panels softly as a request for him to consider me. He
Group for followers of Harry. To subscribe: WWHDsubscribe@yahoogroups.com
Happenings in Harry-ville
MT HORSE CENTER
August 4 –7, 2012 For more information: www.montanahorsecenter.com
FITZFARM HOSTS HARRY!
July 28 - 31, 2012 - 4 day clinic. Auditors welcome. Hosted by: Suzy FitzSimmons in Eagle Lake, MN Contact: firstname.lastname@example.org for available openings and directions.
Special guest, author Tom Moates, will be attending the MN clinics this year!
Between the Reins
betweenthereins.blogspot.com facebook.com/between the reins email@example.com
The Harry Whitney inspired Newsletter...
Upcoming Events in Tennessee
HARRY WHITNEY will be back, of course. As always, we are so pleased to be involved in these intensive week-long camps. If you are looking for lots of one-on-one hands on assistance with plenty of time for questions and discussion, this is a wonderful experience. This year, Harry will also do a DEMO before the actual clinics start. Though we have a strong crew of serious and dedicated students, we are hoping that some of the more local folks will take this opportunity to see what all our enthusiasm is about. DEMO Saturday, May 19th from 8:45 a.m. until 1:00 p.m. Harry will work with one young horse and one riding horse. $15 fee includes demo and discussion period. Dates of the week-long camps: MAY 21 MAY 28 JUNE 11 JUNE 18 First three weeks are full and we are filling the week of June 18th (and beyond, if needed). Additional info: mendinfencesfarm.com Have a Harry related event you would like featured? Please send an email with the details and photos, if available, to: BTReditor@gmail.com