Posts Tagged ‘Ray Hunt’

Television and radio personality Rick Lamb discusses the teachings of Tom Dorrance and what they mean to him in his book HUMAN TO HORSEMAN.

Television and radio personality Rick Lamb discusses the teachings of Tom Dorrance and what they mean to him in his book HUMAN TO HORSEMAN.

“It was shortly after I started my radio show that I began hearing the name Tom Dorrance,” writes television and radio personality Rick Lamb in his book HUMAN TO HORSEMAN. “It was always spoken with reverence…Some people spoke of knowing him personally, others of be­ing at clinics with him, and others still of the principles he espoused.”

The world lost Tom Dorrance in 2003, but renowned horseman Buck Brannaman has helped keep the lessons Tom shared alive, teaching an approach to training and riding horses that he learned from spending years following and learning from Tom, and Ray Hunt, as well. We now benefit from the wisdom Buck shares on the road, and as you’ll see below, much of Buck’s philosophy mirrors Tom’s own message.

“There are a group of observations and suggestions attributed to Tom Dorrance that, even on first reading, were immensely valuable to me,” says Rick Lamb. “What he did was give us things to think about that help on the journey.”

Here are Nine Nuggets of Horse Wisdom attributed to Tom Dorrance that, thanks in part to Buck Brannaman and other horsemen who learned from Tom and continue to share his teachings, are now an important part of every rider and trainer’s evolution—whatever their discipline, whatever their sport, whatever their age or geographic location.

After all, wherever he is and whatever it is he may be doing while there, a horse is still a horse.

Included are Rick Lamb’s comments and astute explanations of what he feels these lessons mean and how they can help us on our journey to become better horsemen. (You can read more about the famous trainers and clinicians with whom Rick has worked in his book HUMAN TO HORSEMAN.)


1  Observe, remember, and compare.

“To me, Tom is saying you have to be mentally engaged when work­ing with horses,” says Rick. “You need to be focused on what’s going on and apply mental energy as well as physical energy to the process. Every experience you have will add to your understanding, but you need to think about it.”


2  Make the wrong things difficult and the right things easy. Let your idea become the horse’s idea.

This is Tom’s straightforward way of describing the secret to all animal training, what behaviorists call Operant Conditioning,” explains Rick. “De­sirable behaviors (right things) are rewarded (made easy) and un­desirable behaviors (wrong things) are punished (made difficult). Regardless of the words you use, you are setting up a situation and allowing the horse to choose his own outcome. A horse learns very quickly to choose things that give him the best outcome, which is what you wanted all along.”


3  Be as gentle as possible and as firm as necessary.

“It is in this, perhaps the most defining of Tom’s ideas, that the con­cept of justice is seen,” says Rick. “An analogy that comes to mind is what it takes to boil water. At sea level, water boils at 212 degrees Fahren­heit. That is the minimum amount of heat that it takes to get the job done. Water will also boil at 213 or 214 or 215, but that is more heat than necessary. Water will not boil at 211 or 210. That doesn’t get the job done. Justice where a horse is concerned is the commit­ment to using the least amount of heat (pressure) necessary to get the job done.

“This is also probably the most misunderstood principle in natu­ral horsemanship because many people only see the gentle part,” Rick continues. “It feels good to be gentle to a horse, but closing your eyes to the necessity of being assertive and strong at times is foolish and naïve. The horse is more comfortable—in human terms, happier—with a competent leader in charge.”


4  The slower you do it the quicker you’ll find it.

“This means a couple of related things to me,” says Rick. “One, practicing any­thing slowly is the way to master it. Speed comes naturally. Two, when things aren’t going well, you may be going too fast for the horse, he can’t process it that quickly, or the quality of your presen­tation is suffering because you are racing through it. Slowing down allows you to be better and the horse to keep up with what you’re asking him to do.”


5  Feel what the horse is feeling and operate from where the horse is.

“This is nothing more or less than empathy, imagining what another creature, man or beast, must be feeling at a given moment,” Rick explains. “Putting yourself in the horse’s place is not only the moral high ground, it also helps you see solutions you wouldn’t otherwise see. Can you really know what it’s like to be a horse? Not really. But as a hu­man, you have the ability to think in the abstract, to imagine what it might be like and that gets you close enough.”


6  Do less to get more.

“This is perhaps the most counter-intuitive of Tom’s prescriptions, yet I’ve seen it proven over and over again,” admits Rick. “The horse’s survival instinct is strong, and it is so near the surface in many horses, that it interferes with them learning. Backing off, turning down the pressure, doing less in whatever form it takes, allows the horse’s preoccupation with his own survival to lessen and his thinking to increase. Just as with the slowing-down suggestion, doing less may also improve the quality and accuracy of your performance, as well.”


7  Take the time it takes.

“Just as the horse is preoccupied with survival, the human is preoc­cupied with time,” says Rick. “When you are worried about the amount of time a task takes, your body telegraphs it loudly and clearly to the horse. Rather than speeding up the process, worrying about time inevi­tably slows it down because it worries the horse, too. Conversely, letting things unfold at their own rate usually makes them go faster because the horse does not become worried about his safety.”


8  The horse has a need for self-preservation in mind, body, and spirit.

“This goes to the essential nature of the horse, the nature that the horseman tries to use instead of fight,” Rick explains. “But it speaks to more than physical self-preservation; Tom invites us to think of the horse as a complex creature whose mind and spirit must be preserved and protected just as his body is.”


9  The horse is never wrong.

“This last point is wonderfully rich. If you accept this premise—that the horse is never wrong—then you must ask yourself about the real na­ture of your journey from human to horseman,” says Rick. ” The horse doesn’t need changing, so it can’t be about training horses. The journey from human to horseman can only be about one thing: changing ourselves. It is a course in self-improvement for human be­ings. At the individual level, it makes humans more effective with horses and with people. At the macro level, it has implications for all mankind. By molding a new, more fully realized human being, we improve the lot of our species and our planet.”


HUMAN TO HORSEMAN is available from the TSB online bookstore where it is ON SALE NOW!



BUCK the award-winning documentary and 7 CLINICS WITH BUCK BRANNAMAN are also available.


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Vanessa Bee, founder of the International Horse Agility Club, spent the weekend at the Buck Brannaman clinic in Colorado.

Vanessa Bee, founder of the International Horse Agility Club, spent the weekend at the Buck Brannaman clinic in Colorado.

Vanessa Bee, founder of the International Horse Agility Club and author of THE HORSE AGILITY HANDBOOK and HORSE AGILITY: THE DVD, is in the United States beginning her North American clinic tour (see our previous post for dates and locations). Part of her reason for making the cross-Atlantic trek was to see Buck Brannaman teach, in person!

“I absolutely love the 7 CLINICS WITH BUCK BRANNAMAN DVDs and have watched them over and over,” said Vanessa when she announced her tour in February. “They are completely addictive. I am so impressed, but I do have questions…and there’s only one way to find the answers—ask the man himself! So I’m flying over from the UK to watch him work in Colorado…that’s how good I think this man is!”

Vanessa was kind enough to share some of her observations from the time she spent this past weekend at the Buck Brannaman clinic in Hayden, Colorado—it is always so interesting to hear one trainer’s observations of another! Check it out:

“We flew from England to Denver and drove over the mountains in blizzard conditions to get here, but I knew it was worth it. I had already watched the excellent 7 Clinics DVDs many times and of course had a few questions. I was hoping that by watching everything in real time I would be able to see the techniques and changes in the horse more clearly.

“Fortunately, I brought my binoculars. I know some people thought this was a bit strange, but I’m an eccentric English woman so can get away with most things! Those binoculars made all the difference—I could really see the man work, when he quit as the horse got the answer—MAGIC!

“The first day was split into two parts: The morning was Colt Starting and the afternoon was Horsemanship 1. The colts were all shapes and sizes with handlers of varying ability, so Buck had his work cut out keeping everyone moving forward. First he made sure everyone could move their horse’s feet and retain a safety bubble that the horse would respect. He gave a nice demonstration of teaching a horse where the boundary was and commented that you have to learn how much to do that says STOP!

“You have to mean it but not by being mean to the horse.

“I had my first question answered on when to use the flag and how the horse knows when it means something to him and when he has to ignore it. It’s all in the hand position, which transmits the intention of the handler. I invested in my own BB Flag, and somehow I have to get it into my suitcase for the journey home!

“At the end of the session Buck gave everyone homework: They had to practice flexion, backing up, picking the rider up from the fence, lowering the head, and putting the bridle on. And they had to practice because, as he said, he would know in the morning if they hadn’t!

“It was going to be interesting to see if all the colt starters had done their homework, and they did look pretty good as they lead their horses into the arena. Buck was warming up his horse first thing. He talked about how he was looking for ’weightlessness’ as he was working. It was quiet and precise, the way he worked. Disengaging the hind end, moving the front over, backing up just seeking the moment when there was no weight and he instantly quit.

“I used my binoculars zoomed in on every move. I don’t know how anyone could see the finer details and understand when the quit was valid without being close up. That’s why the 7 Clinics DVDs are so good. I shall certainly be studying these in even more depth on my return home.

We're lucky to have Vanessa Bee reporting back from this fabulous Buck clinic experience!

We’re lucky to have Vanessa Bee reporting back from this fabulous Buck clinic experience!

“Buck is direct, I like that. He made a few choice comments, including: ‘If I could get my students to spend less time on ’Wastebook’ and more time with horses they’d have a stable full of bridle horses.’

“I’ve watched a lot of horse clinics and horsemen and I can tell you that Buck is the only person I’ve seen whose feet are the horse’s feet. He just moves those feet like they were their own. It’s smooth and you never feel a wince or a jar as you watch him work. His timing is fantastic.

“He was very honest and direct and I really enjoyed his style of teaching. Buck said, ‘Everything I do with a horse is incremental that’s why I’m successful with them.’ In other words, he tries never to overwhelm the horse and give him too much to think about.

“Buck told us that Ray Hunt was always saying to him: ‘Do less sooner, then you won’t need to do more later.’

“I and my binoculars are beginning to see that now.”

Thanks, Vanessa, for making it feel like we were at the clinic with you!

Click image to order!

Click image to order!

You can order the 7 CLINICS WITH BUCK BRANNAMAN DVD SERIES, plus Vanessa Bee’s HORSE AGILITY HANDBOOK and HORSE AGILITY DVD at the TSB online bookstore.



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Buck Brannaman travels extensively throughout the country and the world each year, teaching an approach to training and riding horses that he learned from spending years as a student of the renowned horsemen Ray Hunt and Tom Dorrance. This weekend, Feb 1 thru 3, in Las Vegas, Nevada, Buck is one of the featured clinicians at Legacy of Legends, an event that showcases those who exemplify the spirit and ability to communicate a level of horsemanship introduced and taught by Ray and Tom.

The Legacy of Legends Foundation’s goal is to generate funding for scholarships to deserving students in pursuit of a higher level of consciousness in conjunction with the horse. Clinics at this weekend’s event are intended to promote harmony between horse and rider, and preserve the dignity and well-being of the horse while encouraging the trainer/rider to achieve a higher level of horsemanship.

“What our goal is,” explains Buck, “is that once a year we can have an event that truly displays the very things that Ray and Tom had in mind, done by people that actually were students of Ray and Tom.”

The natural horsemanship approach taught by Ray Hunt and Tom Dorrance, and now Buck, benefits all levels and types of riders, and has inspired and revolutionized the equestrian world. Due to the success of the highly acclaimed 2011 documentary BUCK, a new awareness of this methodology has extended far into the mainstream.

In September, 2012, TSB teamed up with Cedar Creek Productions to release 7 CLINICS WITH BUCK BRANNAMAN, a seven-disc instructional DVD series created from over 300 hours of unused footage shot during the making of the hit film BUCK. With this unique DVD series, viewers have the chance to watch many of Buck’s lessons taught, in real time, at clinics around the country. Here’s a “sneak peek” lesson on getting yourself and your horse centered from Disc 7 of the 7 CLINICS series:

The 7 CLINICS WITH BUCK BRANNAMAN DVD series is available from the TSB online bookstore.

Check out this great deal! THE ULTIMATE BUCK BRANNAMAN GIFT SET includes the documentary BUCK, the complete series of 7 CLINICS WITH BUCK BRANNAMAN, Templeton Thompson’s SONGS FROM 7 CLINICS CD of music written for and featured in 7 CLINICS, and a Buck tote bag (not sold separately)!


The 2013 Legacy of Legends poster by artist and horseman Steve Johnson.

The 2013 Legacy of Legends poster by artist and horseman Steve Johnson.

And do you like the 2013 Legacy of Legends poster? The art is by horseman Steve Johnson—you can read a little about him and his family and the adventures we had together at the Padlock Ranch by clicking HERE.

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Last week we talked to Eunice Rush and Marry Morrow about their brand new book KNOW YOU, KNOW YOUR HORSE, what inspired them to write the book together, and what they hope readers can take away from its pages. KNOW YOU, KNOW YOUR HORSE, the new must-have book on human and horse personality, is available now from the TSB online bookstore (CLICK HERE TO ORDER).

TSB:  How long have you two known each other and combined forces in terms of aligning horse and human personalities?

ER: We have known each other for about six or seven years.  I met Marry when I attended one of her clinics. We have been working on the concept of combining personalities for about three years now.  It has been an exciting and educational process—and we are thrilled to see our book in print!

TSB: KNOW YOU, KNOW YOUR HORSE is such an interesting book with information that can apply not only to any horse person, and any riding discipline, but also to other areas of your life. How did you write the book together and determine what kind of information on human and horse personality should be included?

ER: I have worked with human personalities and how to use the information to improve personal relationships in the work place to improve sales and enhance team performance for over 20 years.  Likewise, Marry has used her knowledge of horse personalities to enhance her training methods for over 20 years.  Once we decided there might be a connection, we first researched to see if anyone else had used the same approach, and finding nothing, we started our research to confirm our theory.  Once we felt we had done so, we felt the information could help everyone that dealt with horses.  It became a passion to make the information available.

Writing the book was an adventure in itself.  We started by determining the parts of the human personality that had components similar to the horse.  That gave us the template.  Marry put together her parts and I put together mine.  Then to keep the writing style consistent, I wrote the book but worked closely with Marry every step of the way on the horse side to make sure the information was accurate. Finally, Caroline Robbins, the publisher at Trafalgar Square Books and our editor, helped us both smooth it all out, take out what we didn’t need, and clarify what we had.

The writing process was a real challenge because I am a “Powerful” and Marry is an “Analyst” (see the free download of the Human Social Style Questionnaire to find out what you are—CLICK HERE).  I just wanted to get to book written and out there.  Marry wanted to make sure every person in every case was covered.  Thanks to our mutual understanding of human personalities (covered in the book), we were able to get it done without killing each other!

TSB: Eunice, you are responsible for the “human side” of the book—can you tell us a little about your experiences analyzing human personality in your career in sales and business?

ER: For many years I taught sales teams how to “read” their potential customer, align their own personality to their customer’s, and then initiate the sale.  Understanding the whole human makes the sales cycle more successful.  I taught people about learning styles so they presented materials in a way that made sense to the client. We also took into account color combinations when building presentations.  A lot of people don’t think about colors, but not only do different colors incite different feelings, men and women are naturally drawn to different colors [TSB editor’s note: You can learn more about using color theory in your work with your horse in the forthcoming book from Linda Tellington-Jones, DRESSAGE WITH MIND, BODY & SOUL].  I also conducted team-building courses and taught many leadership courses.  All these things required a complete understanding of how the human personality worked.

TSB author Eunice Rush and her horses.

TSB author Eunice Rush and her horses.

TSB: Marry, you are responsible for the “horse side” of the book—can you tell us a little about your experiences analyzing horse personality in your work training horses and training people to train their own horses?

MM:  In my clinics, the number-one priority for me is to keep people and their horses safe.  In order to do this, I feel I have to be able to understand quickly the personality of each horse; then I can understand where to begin working with that horse. Once I understand the horse, then I need to understand the human so I can help him or her take home and use what I am teaching them at a clinic.  The other passion I have is working with problem or rescue horses. Ray Hunt used to say, “Take the time it takes,” and I think most people understand that this means you should take off your watch and not train on a timeframe, which is correct, but I think there is more to it. “Take the time,” to me, means find out how the horse learns, how he understands what you are asking of him. Get to know his personality before you begin.

TSB:  If you could be sure that readers take away one lesson from KNOW YOU, KNOW YOUR HORSE, what would you hope it would be?

ER: I know you only want one but I am going to give you two because I feel strongly about each.

Lesson 1: We want to make sure that when there is a match between personalities, both human AND horse are happier.

Lesson 2: You can’t use a cookie cutter training method for every horse. Just as an example: It was such an eye-opener to me that not every horse has to stop and put his nose on something to get over being afraid of it. Every trainer I have ever studied says if your horse is afraid of something, work with him to stop and approach until he can put his nose on it. Because just about every horse I have ever owned has been an Extrovert, this has led to a lot of failed moments of training for me and frustration for my horses.  I thank Marry for teaching me about the extroverted horse and how he learns best.

MM: I want readers to firmly grasp that horses have a personality, just like humans. If you don’t have a personality that matches your horse’s, then can you learn to adapt. Or, if you can’t, then it’s okay to say, “We don’t match up,” and give both yourself and the horse a chance to find your perfect match.

TSB: Tell us about the first time you remember sitting on a horse.

ER: I was probably about three.  My parents had friends who had a daughter who had ponies.  One day when they were visiting, my parents let me ride one of the ponies.

MM: I was very young, I really don’t remember the first time. What I do remember is sitting on a horse’s back and reading  books by CW Anderson—then naming the horse “Blaze.”

TSB: Tell us about the first time you remember falling off a horse.

ER: Well, it wasn’t the first time I left my horse but the first time I was bucked off, and that is different than falling off.  I was about 15 and I went to see the movie Miracle of the White Stallions.  In that movie the young girls that were training to ride had to be able to balance well enough to jump a horse with their arms out to their sides.  I was so impressed I went right home and set up a jump, got on my horse and gave it a try.  All I remember about the jump was seeing four horse feet fly over my body as I was flat on my back next to the jump bar. And by the way, that horse was 17 hands tall! I never tried that again. I guess the girls in the movie must have done a little pre-work before trying the jump!

MM: Again, I’m not sure if it was the first time, but the most memorable time was my first jumping lesson. I was 11 or 12 years old. We were in an arena with a jump set up in the middle. I was on a larger pony, and I headed down the middle of the arena, flew over the jump, then couldn’t stop him as we approached the far end of the arena. The pony tried to jump out of the arena and got halfway over and was stuck. I,on the other hand, made it over the arena wall just fine. It took a couple large men to get the pony off the wall and back in the arena.

TSB: What is the quality you most like in a friend?

ER: A friend should be a friend no matter what. She or he should stand by you in good times and in bad.

MM: I like friends who are passionate about what they do.

TSB: What is the quality you most like in a horse?

ER: I want a horse that enjoys going long distances and exploring as much as I do, and preferably with a nice ground-covering walk or gait.

MM: Being  curious.

TSB: If you could do one thing on horseback or with a horse that you haven’t yet done, what would it be?

ER: Boy that’s hard because I have done just about everything I have wanted to do with horses.   However, while it is still trail riding, the one thing I have always said I wanted to do is go to California and ride among the giant Sequoia trees. That has to be so amazingly humbling.

MM: I’d like to have Stacy Westfall’s  bitless and bridleless championship ride.

TSB Marry Morrow and her horses.

TSB author Marry Morrow and her horses.

TSB: If you were trapped on a desert island with a horse and a book, what breed of horse would it be and which book would you choose?

ER: For survival, the right answer would probably be an Arab for a desert island but I have to go with a gaited one that matched my personality so I would have my best buddy horse with me.

As for the book, the Bible.

MM: The breed of horse would be a Lusitano. The book would be a really big survival guide.

TSB: What’s in your refrigerator at all times?

ER: Banamine and penicillin for the horses…chocolate for me.

MM: Apples, carrots , lemons, and water.

TSB: What is your idea of perfect happiness?

ER: Just me and my best bud horse on a perfect day on a beautiful trail just enjoying all of God’s glory.   I rode half way across the state of Michigan on my horse Bo right after I retired.  It was a 125 mile trip and I loved it.

MM: A good horse, a nice barn, lots of pasture, and a good man who agrees with that.

TSB: What is your idea of the perfect meal?

ER: What I want to eat or what I should eat?  What I want is pizza and something chocolate with a big Diet Coke (obviously, this falls on the what-I-shouldn’t-eat side).

MM: I love stirfry with lots of vegetables.

TSB: What is your idea of the perfect vacation?

ER: If you had ask what “would be” perfect, it would be a horse trip with my husband, son, and daughter-in-law.  However, no one in my family but me rides, so I actually have two.  The first and most important would be any vacation with my family.  Since none of them are horse people, I would prefer to do some canoeing or almost anything outdoors, as long as it is warm.  My second would be a long vacation camping and riding across several states with good friends and good horses.  Last year I did that with my standard riding group.  We rode in six states over several weeks.  We all rode to the top of Mt. Rushmore.  Fun times!  It is so much fun to meet new people at various campgrounds and add them to your riding group.

MM: Anyplace with warm (not hot) temperatures, water, and horses.

TSB: If you could have a conversation with one famous person, alive or dead, who would it be?

ER: George Washington

MM: It’s a tossup: Tom Dorrance or Marguerite Henry.

KnowYouKnowYrHorse250TSB: What is your motto?

ER: All things are possible through God who strengthens me.

MM: “Open your hands and it will open your heart.” This is what I tell all my clients, because when you are tight on the reins, you have no feel, the horse is tense. Open your hands so you are light on the reins and your horse will respond with love.

For FREE DOWNLOADS of the human and horse personality quizzes, as well as an excerpt from the new book KNOW YOU, KNOW YOUR HORSE, CLICK HERE.

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