Welcome to The Art of Riding - and a Better Connection through Feel!
My passion is to help students have fun taking the connection with their horse to new heights. I work with novice to advanced riders, whether to build harmony, develop a better feel, smooth out trouble spots, or to release brace in a performance horse, for increased athleticism - and heart.
Take it easy! The captivating ease between Fred and Ginger (left) depends on the ongoing feel of release offered within Fred's lead. He blends with, supports or invites their next move, timed to complement her balance - as he feels of her mind. The connection leaves Ginger in no doubt whatsoever about following Fred's feel.
Bill Dorrance, master horseman and rancher, known for his quiet, unassuming way of handling and riding horses through feel, had much to teach us about
"Feel, Timing and Balance".
"Feel, Timing and Balance"
I discovered Bill's approach after coming to the US. I grew up in France, and started out with horses in the French tradition, known for its lightness. Bill's work, influenced by the old masters of the French cavalry, resonated with that earlier foundation and I craved what he in turn added: Bill called it our 'better feel'. It is a feel that releases the horse's mind into your finger tips. I traveled to ride in clinics all over, with those closest to Bill's work. Bill knew what the horses need us to know. His teachings will forever shape how I handle horses and ride.
That 'better' connection through feel serves in all things, from going out to feed at night, trimming feet in the pasture or caring for an injury, to riding in the woods or jumping a fence. It brings me more joy with horses than I ever imagined.
"Feel" can seem elusive. It does not need to be!
I can help you develop and enjoy "Feel" in a way that bridges from your existing background, adds to that value, and prepares you to make the most of the real key: your creativity. I invite you to come and enjoy the feel of a better connection today.
I started riding as a child in France, where much importance was assigned to light, steady hands that held precise meaning and a fluid, yet secure seat – indeed this was put to the test as we galloped bareback along the firebreakers in the forest of Maisons Laffitte! I was awarded my Premier Degré (with Fédération Française de Sports Equestres) at age 11, and started event-riding my 12.1hh Welsh pony, Roana. Riding in the breed performance championships at Fontainebleau, and at the Salon du Cheval in Paris were also highlights.
This start in horses was a perfect foundation for the competitive eventing I then enjoyed in the UK on my dynamite Irish mare, forever close to my heart, Storm Bay.
It also proved to contribute in unexpected ways down the road.
What is "The Feel of Release"?
"The Feel of Release" refers to an ease of connection, alive in an ongoing flow between horse and rider, whether riding around the farm, out blazing a trail or in the show ring - the better the feel of the connection, the better and more enjoyable the performance.
We all face challenges with our horses at one time or another - perhaps he bucks, runs off, won't go, doesn't pick up a canter lead well, resists our requests for a particular maneuver or we just cannot seem to get his attention.
It is important to note that virtually ALL tricky spots have one thing in common - our horse's resistance or tension: "brace".
But here is the Catch 22. We often respond to "brace" with an escalation of pressure or of the aids. However in our application of pressure, we usually hold our breath and become tight as we offer tension - we reciprocate the brace we were seeking to eliminate. Not only that, brace between horse and rider practices a lost connection - which is the part of riding that brings up the most anxiety or concern, and is then apt to amplify the disconnect.
And that... is not fun.