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General Feedback from Students





[Posted with kind permission of authors]

Hi Karen,

We had a quiet, uneventful trip home, which is always good.

I can't begin to tell you how much we enjoyed the clinic. And I say "we" because I know Cisco did too. Your calm and thoughtful manner was very conducive to learning and the whole atmosphere was relaxing and comfortable and allowed me (and Cisco) to be completely at ease. I am really pleased with Cisco's responses this weekend and I think we are on a good path. Yesterday, he moved off on my first attempt to release his shoulder! I could hardly believe it. I'm looking forward to playing with feel and release with my other horses too. And I'm anxious to re-read True Horsemanship Through Feel; I'm sure I will have a better understanding of it now.

I will certainly keep in touch and hope that this weekend was just the beginning...

Thank you so much for a wonderful clinic.

Ellen Butler and Cisco


Just wanted to reiterate how much I enjoyed working with you this weekend.  I came home and shared what I could with my daughter and am anxious for both of us to apply these principles on an ongoing basis.  I loved the moments that I saw coming through in Hook and I'm sure we'll be able to build on them.  I keep thinking about how I was squeezing him at every stride.  Jeez, I wonder why he doesn't seem like a happy horse!  That was just one light bulb moment for me but there were certainly others.
You did a nice job of balancing your time among each of us participants and working with everyone where they are at.  Not an easy task!  But I think everyone felt that you did this effectively.

I hope that we'll meet again in the not too distant future.  I'd love to host a clinic at the barn where Karen trains, if we can fit it in the schedule.  There are so many people that I wish would take hold of Bill's methods.

I will keep you posted on our progress.  I am very motivated to get more feel working for Hook and me.  I really believe that we're on to something big here in our relationship.

Thanks again.

Best regards, until we meet again.
Claire Hammond and Hook

Hi Karen,
By the way, my friend Eva (she audited on Saturday and helped you demonstrate the friends walking down the trail scenario) and I are interested in checking on the possibility of getting you back up this way to work with us and all our horses. We are both so impresssed with you and your teaching style and very excited about the concepts you presented.

Ellen Butler and Cisco

[re-posted here with permission, original post on MNH yahoo discussion group]

Re: clinic in Milford

Hi Everyone,

I'm usually a lurker, however, I wanted to post about Karen Musson. She's a neighbor and very good friend of my sister's, and through her, we've become acquainted. I've had many conversations with her, been to her home numerous times, my kids have lessoned with her, our kids have played together, we attended Equine Affaire last year with our horses together, and so on. She is an outstanding horse woman and is terrific with people of all ages. She's been studying with Leslie [Desmond], however, in my humble opinion she was already an outstanding horsewoman and teacher. I've always wished I lived in the same community, as she was the person I was looking for to work with me and my horse as he was getting started and for my children for lessons. Alas, I live 6 hrs from my sister and Karen.

Anne Ward

Hi. I'm green. My 6 yr old horse, Cole, is green too. Within a short amount of time, Karen has brought us both a loooong way. Cole just sort of fell into my lap, but I believe that he and I have a road to travel together.
Through Karen's amazing ability to see the horse as he is meant to be, an animal that has feelings and meaning to everyday life, she has opened my eyes to the world of the real equine.
Cole was only ever ridden about a dozen times total. A couple of those times by me, and looking back at those first couple of rides, I had no idea what I was doing. Poor Cole, he didn't know what I was doing either!  Cole has a lot of energy. He can, on the drop of a dime, literally go from zero to 50 m.p.h. in a heartbeat. My goal as a horseman is to ride and understand THAT horse, the one that can explode into a blurr in only a couple of seconds, that bucks and scares me half-to-death because he seems unpredictable. The other horse in Cole is my buddy. For being so young, he has a big heart. A very funny, curious side. He can be and is becoming , very sweet, very gentle.
Through Karen, he has learned to trust me. Through Karen, I have learned how to help Cole FEEL that he can trust me. That I am his protector. He FEELS that I watch out for him, won't let anything happen to him in his world of "horsiness". I am convinced by working with Cole through Karen's teachings, he gets it. He understands everything that I ask of him. The important thing here, is that I am learning how to present that "feeling" to him. Of what I want him to do, and he will do this with the greatest ease, no baulking, no tension, no pressure. Just through a rope, through the feel of my hand, and especially through my own life-energy, Cole feels what I want him to accomplish.
Karen presents the owner and the horse with such a natural, easy to comprehend, way of being together. My green horse and I still have a long way to travel, but we are building a partnership, a bond. He amazes me every day with his actions toward me.
Karen is helping us to reach this goal and I now believe, that it is attainable. It is attainable for anyone that has doubts about their horse and/or themselves. You will come away truly amazed with your horse if you let Karen help you, and you will become even more amazed with yourself.
 Nikki and Cole

Dear Karen,

When I first came to you, it was with a story of a young girl’s horse-centered dream. Constrained by an urban up-bringing and a pinched family budget, the dream was never realized. But, like many longings that have their origins in the innocence of childhood, they do not dissolve simply out of practical concerns.

Prior to meeting you, the dream emerged and asked that I reconsider it and, despite the fact that I am now almost 55 years old, I found that nothing really stood in the way of saying "yes" to its urging except for my own disbelief.

This long-buried dream might never had been so joyfully re-animated had it not been for you and your coaching philosophy of true horsemanship through feel. For me, your approach brings my un-conditioned "beginner’s mind" to the experience, shows me the exquisite power of staying present and offers the awareness of a relationship in which power with replaces power over. In addition, and as odd as this may sound, I felt a true joy in my knowing almost nothing at the start and I was thrilled at having that joy reflected back to me instead of incompetence. Only a very gifted coach could teach from a place of such empathy, enthusiasm and experience.

With much appreciation,

Rowan Evans


Mark Rashid


"I see an 'opening' as anything that allows us to help guide, however briefly, an individual in the direction we ultimately would like to go. An 'opening' can be, and often is, a very subtle form of communication between horse and rider that can easily slip past us if we're not paying attention. 'Openings' can and do work both ways. [...] It amazes me just how small an 'opening' can actually be, whether working with horses or with people, and how easy it can be to create an 'opening' when one is needed."

Mark Rashid

"I truly believe developing the ability to see and use 'openings' effectively is only one piece of what one might refer to as the 'harmony in horsemanship' puzzle. When this idea of understanding 'openings' is brought together with the understanding of two other simlar ideas - making a connection with another indvidual, and the role distance plays in overall communication - I believe it is then that harmony in horsemanship becomes a much less daunting concept for us."

Mark Rashid

Leslie Desmond


"Bill knew about a place I did not know existed, or could exist, between a horse and a human being [...] Bill included each one of my horses in that information exchange. Over the course of many months,... he took each one by its lead rope and, later, by the bridle reins. Using what he called his 'better feel', Bill showed me and each of them exactly what he meant by what he did [...] It was not long after I made the switch from force when needed (often) to always customizing the feel I offered to a horse, that two tough horses I had misunderstood for years developed into my most reliable mounts."

Leslie Desmond

The lightest hands carry intent that is recognized instantly by the horse, as seen in the maneuvers he chooses to make with his feet. Whether that horse is ridden or handled, the lightest hands can purposefully influence the speed, direction and sequence of each foot with accuracy, in a manner that is reflected in the horse's body and on his face.

Leslie Desmond

Bill Dorrance


"The Real Masters Understood Feel [...] For example, De Kerbrech, (French officer in the cavalry of Napoleon III) really understood horses. He had it fixed up so the horse could succeed. [...] The first time I read Beudant's book was in the 1950s. The way he explained things, there was no doubt in my mind about what a person needed to do to get these little things working for them and their horse."

Bill Dorrance

“Feel, timing and balance: sometimes it’s best to talk about feel, timing and balance separately, and to learn how to apply each thing separately on the start. But when you apply these three things a little later in your training, then you see that each one of these things supports the other. They are interconnected and all three are real important. You really can’t get along without all three.”

Bill Dorrance

Faverot de Kerbrech


“ le deplacement du poids est facile dans tous les sens, plus l'equilibre est parfait. En vertue de ce principe, on dit que le cheval est 'en equilibre' quand de simples indications suffisent au cavalier pour modifier a son gre la disposition du poids sur ses colonnes de soutien”

Faverot de Kerbrech

[Translation: ...the easier it is to shift the weight in any direction, the more perfect the balance. By virtue of this principle, the horse is 'in balance' when a simple indication from the rider is sufficient to modify the distribution of weight across the columns of support (four quarters) accordingly]

Duke of Newcastle


"You must in all Airs follow the strength, spirit, and disposition of the horse, and do nothing against nature; for art is but to set nature in order, and nothing else."

William Cavendish, Duke of Newcastle

"A confrontational approach ‘Astonishes the Weak Horse […] makes a Furious horse Madd; makes a Resty Horse more Resty […] and Displeases all sorts of Horses’. The alternative however is not ‘to Sit Weak […] but to Sit Easie’, in the understanding that ‘The Horse must know you are his Master’"

William Cavendish, Duke of Newcastle