In this issue: Burning Questions2That Thought Thing3Trails, Tears & Thoughts5Happenings in Harry-ville6Harry Whitney’s website has gotten a makeover ! Please take a peek to enjoy newfeatures and the very-Harry “Bunkhouse Wall.” Word of warning, however, it is only the website that got a makeover. Harry can still be found in the same straw hat you saw him in last week, last year...well, last time you saw him. Www.harrywhitney.com gets makeover This newsletter is an all-volunteer effortdesigned to reflect the horsemanshipapproach taught by Harry Whitney. WhileHarry will offer his thoughts and ideas, hedoes not take personal responsibility forthe content of student contributions. T h e A l l v o l u n t e e r n e w s l e t t e r S u p p o r t i n g t h e h a r r y W h i t n e y h o r s e m a n s h i p C o m m u n i t y B e t w e e n T h e R e i n s Disclaimer Spring, 2012 Further along the trail is released! Equestrian author and journalist, Tom Moates, returns with more lively and thought provoking adventures in his ongoing odyssey to improve his horsemanship with the patient teaching of his mentor and friend, celebrated horsemanship clinician, Harry Whitn ey. This anticipated follow-up to Between the Reins digs deeper into understanding Whitney’s great skill at seeing things from the horse’s point of view through Moates’ own trials. Familiar characters return to the page al ongside new folks and horses, as Moates reveals the latest lessons he has gleaned from clinics across North America, horses at home in the Blue Ridge Mountains of Virginia, and other equine experi- ences encountered Further Along the Trail. www.tommoa tes.com for ordering information.
Trails, Tears & Thoughts 5 Happenings in Harry-ville 6
Harry Whitney’s website has gotten a makeover! Please take a peek to enjoy new
features and the very-Harry “Bunkhouse Wall.”
Word of warning, however, it is only the website that got a makeover. Harry can still be found
in the same straw hat you saw him in last week, last year...well, last time you saw him.
W w w . h a r r y w h i t n e y . c o m g e t s m a k e o v e r
This newsletter is an all-volunteer effort
designed to reflect the horsemanship
approach taught by Harry Whitney. While
Harry will offer his thoughts and ideas, he
does not take personal responsibility for the content of student contributions.
T h e
A l l - v o l u n t e
n e w
s l e t t e r
S u p p o
r t i n g
t h e
h a r r y
h i t n e y
h o r s e m
a n s h i
C o m m
u n i t y
B e t w e e n
T h e R e i n s
D i s c l a i m e r S p r i n g , 2 0 1 2
F u r t h e r a l o n g t h e t r a i l i s r e l e a s e d ! Equestrian author and journalist, Tom Moates, returns withmore lively and thought provoking adventures in his ongoingodyssey to improve his horsemanship with the patient teachingof his mentor and friend, celebrated horsemanship clinician,Harry Whitney. This anticipated follow-up to Between the Reins digs deeper into understanding Whitney’s great skill at seeingthings from the horse’s point of view through Moates’ owntrials. Familiar characters return to the page alongside newfolks and horses, as Moates reveals the latest lessons he hasgleaned from clinics across North America, horses at home inthe Blue Ridge Mountains of Virginia, and other equine experi-ences encountered Further Along the Trail .
This amazing horsemanship journey I’m undertaking (althoughsometimes I’m pretty sure it’s undertaking me) leads me to some
quite profound connections in life. One is the interaction I enjoywith readers who have found my writing helpful, or at least enter-taining. Every once in awhile one even learns about Harry and his
clinics through my books or essays.Linda Davenport is one of these folks. Linda’s story is
exceptional to me in part because she had the great fortune tobegin her horsemanship journey years ago, and it included sub-stantial exposure to two of the most respected horsemen ever:Tom Dorrance and Ray Hunt. She attended clinics with both of them (even clinics with the two of them together) and has workeddiligently for a good chunk of her life to get better with horses,putting what she has learned over the years into practice.
Linda corresponded with me after reading my books, AHorse’s Thought and Between the Reins. A year or two later she went
and rode with Harry. I’m grateful she agreed to continue e-mailing me to share some of her thoughts andexperiences both during and then follow-ing her first clinic with Harry. I findher impressions are unique because shealready was well versed from first handexperience in the horsemanship of Tom Dorrance and Ray Hunt and hadbeen actively pursuing getting betterwith her horses — a time span of 25years or more, so a very serious horse-woman — yet, she had no previous experi-
ence with Harry.
Linda has agreed to let me share some of the impressionsshe had and e-mailed to me. Other than deleting entire lines of extraneous exclamation points (!!!!!), the quotes are as she putthem down.
“As for Lily and me and the ‘dust clearing,’ wow, wow,and wow again!” Linda exclaimed in the first post-clinic e-mail. “What an amazing breakthrough. I have to keep checkingto make sure I'm riding the same horse! I feel like she's feeling,‘Thank God you now 'get it,' so now I don't have to worry aboutanything anymore.’ She's just like butter, really. She just exudespeace. I don't know how else to explain it. She feels good in-side! She looks at me different. When she sees me she just getsthis wonderful, soft, mushy look on her face and she stares atme. If I die tomorrow, I will die a very happy person, having ac-complished something I've been chasing all my life! Thank you,Harry Whitney!”
Okay, so Linda is a little excited here. But what struckme when I read this e-mail from her is that this very strong posi-tive reaction is coming from a woman who has worked seriouslyfor more than a couple decades at actively improving her horse-
manship. It grabbed my curiosity that in a single clinic she hadsuch a profound breakthrough, especially one she had been chas-ing for many years. I bugged her for more details of just whatwent on to get her this joyful.
And here’s a whole letter that gets deeper into it:
I NEED to tell you a couple of things that have absolutely amazed me
since attending Harry's clinic in Montana!
I continue to be beyond grateful and completely blown away by what I'm
discovering with my horses since the dawning of "teaching a horse to leave
Just briefly, THE SOFTNESS that's there. I've been getting a "soft feel" for, what, at least 25 years. It's NOT THE SAME THING! Getting a
soft feel is "mechanical." The soft feel that
comes through automatically when you have
a horse's thought, well, how can I explain
it — it's a thousand times softer! Wow,
wow and wow again! It is really unbelieva-
ble how good they feel when they are that
I just got back from challenging myself and
Lily to riding in a place waaaaay out of
"our" comfort zone. It's a trail that runs alonga river that is thick forest with lots of underbrush. In addition, that par-
ticular area is known as "Fruitvale" because of the wild apple, pear and
nectarine trees that grow there. There are an inordinate number of bears
that frequent that area, as evidenced by the frequent bear sightings and
bear dung every 20 feet or so alongside the trail. So, I can imagine that
with the horse's sense of self-preservation, sense of smell for wild creatures,
etc., it is a place they would most certainly be on "high alert." Of course,
Lily's thought would go here or there along the trail, but I was right there
with her and could bring that thought back immediately. It was amazing
how soft she would immediately get and how calm she would become when
her thought would come back to me . . . like butter. She never got tight
once through her body. A first, a real first!
My only regret, why didn't I get this a long time ago!
Then Linda shared an example with a very different kind of horse she has.
“I have also been working with Lily's full sister (Sunshine, age8),” She wrote. “They are night and day in many respects, but
the most amazing thing withSunshine is — and I did talk toHarry about this — she's a veryconfident horse, a very boldhorse, and mentally a verystrong horse, with definitethoughts of her own. In otherwords, an issue I've always hadwith her is, if you don't keepyour focus with her, she'll takeover in a nano-second! If you
ask for one step, before you feelher foot leave the ground,you've got three steps. Do youknow what I mean?
“I have to really tonedown my thoughts and aids forher, or you get toomuch. Anyway, I've discoveredwith Sunshine that her head isFULL OF THOUGHTS NONSTOP,and, generally speaking, her thoughts
are waaaaay ahead. If her feet can't get up with her thoughts,then she gets crooked, again in a nano-second. This isespecially evident when I ask for the canter/lope. If youconfine her at the lope, she bunches up and gets terriblycrooked because her thoughts are waaay ahead; yet, if you askher for the lope and don't confine her, she's straight as anarrow and soft.
“Playing with her thoughts has just had amazingresults! In fact, I just got back from a 1-1/2 hour ride withSunshine, and, for the first time ever (just as a simpleexample), she did not dive-bomb for a bite of food along the
way. She's so darn quick, that it was always hard to catch herbefore she did that, but now she's more focused on where Iam. I purposefully rode in the tallest grass I could find alongthe way, and kept asking for her thoughts. Just amazing!
“Like I said, THIS IS JUST IMMENSE, this thoughtthing!”
This thought thing, seems to be what connected thedots of horsemanship for Linda. It was the missing linkbetween the many pieces she had worked with to build abetter relationship with horses — those parts certainly would
be things like picking up a soft feel, knowing right where allyour horse’s feet are when riding, and timing releases justright. All those kinds of things are certainly aspects of gettingbetter with horses, but I really believe that if you get a horse’s
thought with you, then you get all those things and everythingelse besides. The particularscan be a by-product of a horsethat is truly with you. Get thehorse’s thought with you andbe able to direct that, andyou’ve got the whole horseright at your fingertips.
It is Harry’s uniquepersonal understanding of thisand his willingness to try and
impart it to others, that gets tothe very core of bettering therelationship andcommunications betweenhorses and humans.
“It is so interesting tome, having been skirtingaround the outside precipice of this ‘thought thing’ for quite a
while now,” Linda said, “and nowactually falling over the edge and seeing
it with my own two eyes and, consequently, feeling it with mywhole being. Ahhh, the layers of the proverbial onion!”
Ahh, those layers indeed!
T h o u g h t T h i n g , c o n t ’ d .h o u g h t T h i n g , c o n t ’ d .
“This is a picture of this formerly-fractious horse calmlydragging one of my fellow participants on a sled asif she had done that every day of her life!” Linda sharesabout this photo. “For the record, there was a doe andfawn hiding in the trees just ahead of us, and Lily neverfaltered a step!” (Nick Davenport)
Tom Moates' latest book arrived in my mailbox today. During a fastmoving torrential downpour this afternoon, I was given the neededtime out to open it up and start reading. Tom has a way of makingHarry's words come alive in a powerful and inspiring way. I took amoment after reading the opening pages and the first chapter to hop
skip and jump my way through a few of the chapters. I stopped afterreading about how we can set up a horse to search.
The storm had passed and the sun had returned. I pulled on my bootsand headed out to see which horse would greet me at the paddock gate.I had my halter in hand, I waited at the gate, eyeing Redman, Spirit andAri. I looked at the fresh piles of manure calling my name to be pickedup and put in the wheelbarrow. I brought my mind back to my bodyand watched Ari approach me. No surprise there, Ari is a curious-in-your-face horse always anxious to see "what is in it it for him". Iremember a couple of years ago Harry saying in so many words thatwhen something was Ari's idea life was good for Ari. I have seen theflip side of this, lived it for years, Ari is often one not to feel good aboutsomething that is not his idea.
"Training horses is discovering a communication appropriate for eachindividual horse whereby we can most agreeably influence their thoughtto believe that they are desirous to do the very things we know we wantto do" - Harry Whitney (Introduction page ix in the new book Further Along
The Trail by Tom Moates)
How do I get my idea to become Ari's? As I stepped into the paddockwith my rope halter in hand, I thought about the feeling in me that Iknow Ari would feel when I presented the halter to him. Would helower his head and accept the halter? Would he grab at it with hismouth, would he get a dull eye and maybe turn away? How would Imake the simple process of haltering this horse something that would
feel right and good between us? My thoughts went over; taking thetime it takes, being clear, being confident, having a softness in me. Arilowered his head for me to put the halter on....
I lead him around the puddles and headed to the round pen. He wasforward in his thinking ready to get in the pen. I had grabbed some flyspray to spray him and rub it on his ears and around his eyes (flies areterrible right now). I closed the gate removed his halter and sprayedhim. He was all for this. I walked off to the middle of the pen andpicked a panel in the shady side to go climb on. Would he come withme, would he busy his mind with other thoughts in an effort to avoidme? Would he get uptight feeling the pressure of being askedsomething that was not his idea? As I was heading towards the panelmoving away from him, tears welled up in my eyes and there was a
hitch in my breathing as I thought about how important this horse is tome, how much I want things to be right between us. How much he is amirror to me. I sucked it up and climbed up on the panel to wait andsee how he felt about our time together.
He meandered around half heartedly checking out some grass sprouts,he looked off into the empty field next to us. I sat there and thoughtabout what it is I was offering to him, an invisible thread that said, “HeyI am a good deal” or one that said, “Crazy human steer clear at all costs.”Ari was very aware of me, but eventually I did let the lead rope dropagainst the metal panels softly as a request for him to consider me. He
looked over at me and came over. I scratched his itchy ears and climbeddown on the outside of the pen and walked to another panel. Hefollowed along on the other side. I climbed up and sat with him. I didthis a few more times, I climbed into the pen and noticed how andwhen my touch felt good to him or felt like an annoyance to him. I put
the halter on him. I thought long and hard about how sensitive thishorse was and how he very much resented being asked with too muchpressure when less would do. I played around with backing him fromenergy in my body to just a slight feel on the lead. I found his tippingpoint, when the pressure was more than he needed. I kept going backto what was it in me that I was offering to this horse. I found within methe importance of offering him clarity and confidence.
I backed him to the gate then asked him to stay ground tied while Iopened the gate and tied it back so it would stay open. Then I backedhim out of the gate, took his halter off and he followed me down to theyard gate. Overall the entire backing exercise was soft and thoughtful.Moments of his “un-okay-ness” drifted in and out of him, a stomp with ahind foot, his head moving towards me, these moments were justmoments of information, he was trying to communicate to me the onlyway he knew how. I could not take those moments personally. I let himknow I recognized his miniscule “fitties,” and I offered to him the onlything I knew to offer him, that it was truly ok between us, that wecould do these tiny things together that I was not going to ignore hisangst, but instead I was going to help him. (Every day when I go out tothis horse I feel like I have to put my big girl boots on and know thatexpanding my comfort zone has a great capacity to increase my personalpower. Some days, those boots stay by the porch door and I go findanother horse to play with....)
There are times when my idea will be the one he has to go with, no if ands or buts. Though right now I feel like this experimenting on
helping Ari discover the good deal with/in me (I have long been a notso good deal for this horse) may lead me to a better understanding onhow to get this horse operating in a way that feels good for both of us.Ari in many ways is still an enigma but I am also discovering he hasmany gifts to share with me along this journey.
I have found a young woman who is willing to accept my tutelage andride Ari, it should make for an interesting summer!
Amazing what reading a few pages of Tom's new book leads to!
T r a i l s , T e a r s & T h o u g h t sr a i l s , T e a r s & T h o u g h t sr a i l s , T e a r s & T h o u g h t s b y : K a t h y D a v i s B a k e ry : K a t h y D a v i s B a k e ry : K a t h y D a v i s B a k e r