'Articles' DJ Fitch on Michael at school
"Feel" by Ron McLoughlin
We all know what 'Feel' is? RIGHT!!
Every instructor and riding program in the world talks about developing 'feel'. That ability
to ride without effort, to get your horse to perform perfectly. To have your horse be soft, to give, to flex with no resistance. To have your horse do things that nobody else can see....
All of this happens when you are all alone with your horse, maybe in the mountains, or in a large arena, or perhaps a round pen. All of a sudden, a clap of thunder, the skies open up, a beam of light streaks down on you. You yell, "I've got feel, I'm a new rider"!
You think you are good for life now....
Well, the beam of light doesn't come down on very many people, so most of the riders in the world are left riding around in a quandary, looking for it the rest of their riding career.
There are a few riders that do develop feel without knowing how. Some people have a gift, or a lick on a horse, or natural talent. Not all of us do!
Ki Allen demonstrating at the Virginia State Fair
One man who did, was Monte Foreman. But even with his natural talent, he realized he needed more, to go to the top. 'Monte Foreman, the science of horse handling'. He studied the horse and how they move. He called this 'Move Basics'. Then he studied the way a rider does or should do things, and attempted to put it all together for a better and 'correct' ride. Monte found out that riding was a science, not mystic or supernatural.
So, in an effort to progress from where Monte Foreman left off, and to get more people to understand what 'feel' is, I realized that we needed to make some changes in how we looked for it, and what we called it. We needed a good definition of what 'feel' is, we needed a hands-on way of developing it. Something we could truly visualize, for ourselves, or while watching someone else ride.
The first thing I did, was rename the term 'feel'. We now call it, 'THE LET ZONE'.
Briefly meaning, the point at which the horse and rider have developed both physical and mental unity, and are letting the performance of the ride happen. Then we developed a chart so riders could see on paper what we are talking about. A complete definition and the chart can be found in the 'McLoughlin Clinic Rider's Notebook', but we will briefly explain it:
Definition of the Let Zone: Cody, 3 yr. student, riding Holly at the school
The point at which you and your horse's mental and physical energy's are working together in a positive motion. Where the strength of your controlling nature and the strength of the horse's resisting nature are equal. Neither one being dominant, thereby forming some type of positive performance. The performance, consisting of at least small amounts of understanding, with a relaxing effect on the horse's brain. A ride in its finished state would be in perfect balance, rhythm and timing, with the lease amount of effort.
The drills, the techniques of implementing; all of this, is in phases. The fact that we have renamed 'feel' and given it a definition and a colored chart, does not mean it will be easy to get there. Hopefully, it will be easier to, and a higher percent of riders will make it to 'THE LET ZONE', on a more frequent basis.