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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!

CLICK HERE TO ORDER

 

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

CLICK HERE FOR MORE INFORMATION OR TO ORDER

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Jim Masterson, author of BEYOND HORSE MASSAGE the book and DVD, will be on “Horse Talk Live” in August! “Horse Talk Live,” hosted by horsewoman Lizzie Iwersen, is on Rural TV (a substation of RFDTV) on Dish network. Lizzie’s interview with Jim airs Monday, August 6, 2012, at 3pm EST, with replays at 9pm and Midnight.

Don’t miss it!

Plus, check out this episode of “The Horse Show with Rick Lamb” featuring Jim.

Rick Lamb is the author of HUMAN TO HORSEMAN—on sale now at the TSB online bookstore where shipping in the US is always FREE. And of course, BEYOND HORSE MASSAGE, both the book and the DVD, are also available from TSB.

CLICK HERE TO ORDER YOUR COPY OF BEYOND HORSE MASSAGE TODAY

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TSB author Wendy Murdoch was featured on the October 1 episode of The Horse Show with Rick Lamb.

In this info-intense day-and-age we’re all scrambling to find time—time for our kids, time for our partners, time for a quiet afternoon with a book (or your iPad!)…and in the case of riders, time to IMPROVE.

Whether you rely on the occasional lesson from a favorite trainer or clinician, or do most of your riding at home on your own, finding the time to really focus on areas of your riding that need improvement can be difficult and/or impossible—especially when you really just want to get on your horse and have fun (something that we don’t necessarily think goes hand-in-hand with working to improve our seat!) Wendy Murdoch’s newest book 50 5-MINUTE FIXES TO IMPROVE YOUR RIDING is written with this conundrum in mind…how do we find enough time in the saddle to get better, and still leave enough time to just have fun? One of Wendy’s main goals in her teaching is to ensure riders have FUN (“safe, fun, and educational” is her mantra).

You can find out more about Wendy and her fabulous Murdoch Method by listening to the excellent interview with radio and television host Rick Lamb on a recent episode of THE HORSE SHOW (click HERE). Rick, a terrific interviewer, talks to Wendy about her recent riding safari in Africa, how she recovered from a debilitating accident and used what she learned about her body to ride better, and the work she’s done with other top TSB authors Linda Tellington-Jones and Sally Swift.

Don’t miss this great episode of THE HORSE SHOW WITH RICK LAMB. “Wendy is a really special individual,” Rick says. We here at TSB think so too!

You can buy Wendy’s 50 5-MINUTE FIXES TO IMPROVE YOUR RIDING, as well as her RIDE LIKE A NATURAL DVDs, at the TSB bookstore, where shipping in the US is always FREE.

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Melinda Folse, author of THE SMART WOMAN’S GUIDE TO MIDLIFE HORSES, spent an hour chatting with Rick Lamb, host of television and radio’s hit show THE HORSE SHOW WITH RICK LAMB (Rick is also the author of HUMAN TO HORSEMAN–a fabulously written book about his journey from greenhorn to knowledgeable horse owner and the famous trainers and clinicians he’s spent time with over the years).

Melinda and Rick talked about the stage of our journey we know as “midlife” and how “reflection,” and time management play hugely into our ability to make horses part of our day-to-day existence. Horses at midlife, whether your ride them or not, provide quality relationships we often can’t find in our human counterparts. They give us reason to pause in the middle of a busy day, and reason to rush home after work at the end of the week.

Melinda and Rick touch upon important aspects of midlife horsemanship such as finding the right horse for you where you are now; facing (and dealing with) fear of horses and riding even though you love them, using tips from Mary Wanless, John Lyons, and Matt Johnson; and how horses can make you a better person and provide a means for “giving back” to society.

Don’t miss this intelligent and inspiring conversation between two of the horse industry’s most thoughtful and talented authors. Check out Melinda Folse on THE HORSE SHOW WITH RICK LAMB and don’t forget to order your copy of THE SMART WOMAN’S GUIDE TO MIDLIFE HORSES, available at the TSB bookstore,where shipping in the US is always FREE.

Melinda Folse on THE HORSE SHOW WITH RICK LAMB

And visit Melinda’s online “Midlife Horse” community, where you can find sisterly support, tips, advice, and good laughs on Facebook:

http://www.facebook.com/pages/The-Smart-Womans-Guide-to-Midlife-Horses/215065531844835

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TSB had a chance to catch up with the ever-fun-and-fascinating Rick Lamb on his way back from Equifest of Kansas and before he heads for Murfreesboro, Tennessee, for the 2011 Road to the Horse “Legends” colt-starting competition. For the eighth time (that’s right–he’s seen ’em ALL!) Rick is the emcee, host, and commentator of the event, which this year features the legendary horse training talents of fellow TSB author Clinton Anderson, as well as Chris Cox, and Pat Parelli.

Rick talks horse with Road to the Horse contender Clinton Anderson.

Rick he is truly the “best man for the job” when it comes to providing running commentary for the horse training action ahead. If you haven’t caught his television or radio show, you’re missing out on some of the most informative, well produced horse-related programs available (click on The Horse Show link in our Highly Recommended Links panel for show times).

Rick knows horses, he knows the Natural Horsemanship movement, and he lives and works amongst some of the horse industry’s most learned and influential people. To top it off, the man, frankly, has a way with words. So watch out world, because half the fun February 25, 26, and 27 will be hearin’ what Rick has to say.

Hey, if you’re traveling to Murfreesboro and looking for something to read in the airport or hotel, grab a copy of Rick’s awesome book HUMAN TO HORSEMAN–it’s 40% off through the end of the month at the TSB bookstore!  If you want an honest-to-goodness insider’s look at America’s greatest horsemen and the story of five years of the Road to the Horse competition, this book’s your ticket to being “in the know.”

TSB: You’re about to host the “Road to the Horse” colt-starting competition for the eighth time. This year’s lineup includes Natural Horsemanship heavyweights Clinton Anderson, Chris Cox, and Pat Parelli. What do you think of this year’s competition and what spectators will be able to take away from it?

RL: This will be a master class in colt starting. I recommend that we all pay special attention to how each trainer gains his horse’s trust and gets control of his horse’s feet. What happens early on can have a big effect on the outcome.

TSB: You talk a lot about your experience with “Road to the Horse” in your book Human to Horseman. What are a couple of the most important lessons you’ve learned and been able to apply to your own horses?

RL: 1. Go slowly and don’t scare the horse.  2. Pay special attention to what the horse is saying with his body language and be ready to back off instantly. 3. Don’t worry about anything anyone else is doing.

TSB: What’s new for The Horse Show with Rick Lamb in 2011 and beyond?

RL: We’ll be shooting in Iceland this year so that’s pretty exciting.  Looks like you’ll also see me learn to rope on camera, which is something I’ve always wanted to try with my mare, Candy. I’m also putting a little extra into my radio programs with special guests and topics we’ve never discussed before. I’m blogging like crazy, too, and people seem to enjoy that.  With a little help, I’ve managed to get a strong Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube presence going so we’ll continue all of that, as well.

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?

RL: Tough question! I’m a Quarter Horse guy but I also love a good gaited horse. Maybe a Quarter/Rocky Mountain cross? As for the book, it would have to be the complete and unabridged Sherlock Holmes. It’s the book equivalent of comfort food for me!

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

RL: Beer.  Nothing but beer.  Just kidding.  Actually, diet coke, frozen veggies, filet mignon, Ezekiel bread, eggs, apples, cheese … and beer.

TSB: What is your idea of perfect happiness?

RL: I define happiness as enjoying the passing of time. I’m sad for people who are always waiting for the future or stewing about the past. That’s not a happy way to live! Happiness is also a choice. I know it sounds clichéd but it’s true. Specific activities that make being happy easier for me are outings with my wife, Diana, playing music, writing, reading, learning, and of course being around horses.

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

RL: My parents used to take me to Kiddieland, an amusement park in Wichita, Kansas. There was a kid-sized roller coaster, ferris wheel, train, merry-go-round, etc., but my favorite thing was riding the ponies. They went through a little maze without anyone leading them. I felt like I was really riding! I was probably five or six at the time. This was in the late ’50s when Westerns dominated on TV.

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

RL: Actually the first time I fell off was the time I wrote about in Human to Horseman.  Thunder was giving me a rough canter and I spanked him to speed him up and smooth out the gait. He kicked out, I lost my seat and tumbled off, getting stepped on and hurting my back in the process. It took a while to come back from that but I’ve since raced along the beach, jumped through fire, jousted and done mounted shooting. I doubt I’ll ever be a really great rider, but damn, I have fun! The fear of falling off is still there but I’ve thought it through enough now that I think I would handle it better if, God forbid, it did happen again.

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

RL: I suppose the thing I value most in any relationship is feeling I can totally be myself with the person.  I don’t always have to be smart or funny or even talkative. It takes tremendous pressure off of me to feel I’m accepted as I am.

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

RL: Willingness to move when I ask for movement and be still when I ask for stillness.

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

RL: Dressage. One day, you’ll probably see me trying that on TV, too!

TSB: What is your idea of the perfect meal?

RL: Filet mignon. Steamed asparagus. Small salad. Bottle of Cabernet Sauvignon. Blueberry pie a la mode. Coffee.

TSB: What is your idea of the perfect vacation?

RL: A cruise with Diana to just about anywhere.

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

RL: Ludwig von Beethoven. As brilliant as he was, he was plagued with self-doubt. He was never completely happy with anything he did. I would like to tell him it’s okay. That’s just how the creative process goes for lots of people. I’d also like to talk to the great horse tamer, John Rarey. He was also a tragic figure in that he died at the height of his fame, at just 38 years of age. His motto was patience, kindness, and firmness, a pretty good prescription for the modern horseman.

TSB: What is your motto?

RL: What a difference a day makes. This is a little reminder I use when things are not going so well. Literally overnight everything can change for the better.

You can catch Rick’s latest episode of The Horse Show, featuring a terrific interview with George and Joann Becker of Valley Spring Foxtrotters in Black, Missouri, on The Horse Show website (and if you’re into Foxtrotters, check out our new book by renowned gaited horse trainer Brenda Imus THE GAITED HORSE BIBLE).

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