How many times have we finished a project around the ranch and thought to ourselves, “I wish I’d taken a picture before we started”. It’s nice to see the end results but, the end result would mean all that much more if we had captured our starting point. We have our memory of what was but, that memory gets skewed by time and more recent events.
When working with horses, Tom Dorrance encouraged his students to remember and compare. Remember where you started and what you did so you can compare results. Knowing what happened before what you wanted to have happen happened and knowing what happened before what you didn’t want to have happen happened will help you decide what presentations are effective with a particular horse and which presentations you want to stow away with that horse. Remembering where you started, what you did, and what the results were allows you to develop better judgement through experience.
The other day we had a chance to work with some people and horses we hadn’t ever worked with before. The people were nice and the horses were good too. One horse in particular was the kind we like. He was smart and sensitive and not one to put up with much nonsense. He had come from a racing background but, his new job was on a cattle ranch. When we first got our hands on him he acted like he’d rather be in charge and tell us how things were going to be. His head was up, he led and pushed with his shoulder and he was tense from the tip of his nose to the bottoms of his feet. We should have taken a picture! After a little while and a little bit of offering a different feel, this horse just melted. His head came down, he accepted our leadership, and he got soft and willing. It made us feel good to be able to help him find something he was more comfortable with! Of course, we got a picture of that!