WiseAssWallace: My Take on Feel

WiseAssWallace is a beloved guest columnist for Cayuse Communications. From his pasture in southwestern Colorado, he’s on a quest to improve horse-human connections and make lives better for his fellow equines.


In this installment, WAW provides his insights on Feel:

Bill Dorrance said, “feel can’t be taught. It has to be experienced.” Yet I believe I can teach you a few things because I, WiseAssWallace, am the King of Feel.

Feel is not complicated or mysterious. It’s not some cosmic awakening when you say Ahhh! and henceforth are endowed with the gift.

Feel is just:

  • being aware of little moments
  • taking stock of those little moments
  • modifying your behavior in light of those little moments.

Feel can apply to any area of life. For purposes of our discussion, it applies to horsemanship. But for humans, it can also apply to having a feel for when your teenage son is lying through his teeth. Or, it might apply to driving in the snow or baking cookies just right.

For me, WiseAssWallace, it’s all about body awareness: knowing your body, what it’s capable of, and how what you do with it impacts others. It’s also about the awareness of other animals’ movements and what those movements mean.

  • By using my superior feel, I can eat hay right next to biggest bully of our herd. I know from prior experience that if I present myself as her humble dinner partner, so to speak, she won’t perceive me as a threat or inconvenience.
  • By using my superior feel, I can heckle and harass my girl, Jolene, but I know that the others have little tolerance for my shenanigans.
  • By using my superior feel, I know that when I stare down the dogs, they go nutty and get riled up. (It takes very little energy on my part and is quite entertaining.)

Now I know you’re saying, “Wallace, what the heck does this have to do with horsemanship?”

I give you one word, people: It’s animalistic. Stop using that thinking part of the brain in order to learn and experience feel. Access your inner animal and just be. Put down the horsemanship book. Turn off that DVD. Come hang out and watch how us animals move each other around. See how one pound of pressure with one of us is comparable to one ounce of pressure on another.

The next time you’re working with us, be as quiet and nimble with your movements as possible. Be really aware of your horse’s responsiveness. React to the movement. React to the moment. Don’t think about what you read in a book. Don’t think about your goal for the day. That’s human stuff.

Trust me, WiseAssWallace, feel is not complicated or cerebral. I’m an animal. I should know.


For a more cerebral take on Feel, read this post on HorseHead!

Posted in WiseAssWallace.

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