Words of wisdom are funny things. They can make total sense or leave you scratching your head. How you absorb and apply them is equally variable. It depends on your attitude, perspective, and education.
Those who worked with Bill and Tom Dorrance told me Bill explained things deliberately. Tom, on the other hand, liked to leave things barely graspable.
“If you asked Tom something, he would answer with something like ‘the oxen is slow, but the earth is patient.’ It was so vague. If you asked Bill the same question, he would say, ‘Put your left foot here and take your right hand…'” explained Randy Rieman.
Joe Wolter learned from the Dorrances. A generation later, the clinician travels the country, passing on what he knows. We met up with him at the Great Basin Buckaroo Gathering last year and the Utah Horse Expo this spring.
Here’s a sampling of his comments as he worked a demonstration horse. I think you’ll find bits of Bill and Tom in his way with words:
- There’s nothing wrong with making a mistake. What’s hard is not knowing you made one.
- The best teacher is your horse. It’s like having that computer in your pocket…All you have to do is use it. If I get aware enough to listen, by golly, all the information is right there.
- I’ve got to fix it, so me and my horse are gonna win…When he gets right behind, he gets light up front.
- Him doing better and better means I’m doing less and he’s doing more.
- If I’m working a cow, I want the horse to do four things:
Go. Stop. Shift weight back. Turn.
- With the green ones, I’m going to use my hands or my legs, but not both at the same time.