#45 What is this feel you speak of?

May 18, 2022

Do you love words? I have loved them since I was little. I remember the very first word I learned to read on my own...  "the". It was the most magical word. I could decipher it in the maze of straight lines and squiggles filling up the pages of my older brother Mike's books. Books with no pictures to give me clues of what was going on. I felt such a connection to that word. I have a vivid memory sitting next to Mike in the back seat of my mom's yellow Dasher and with great excitement pointing and exclaiming every time I saw a "the". There were lots of them and my brother, at the age of 8, had patience way beyond his years to tolerate the mosquito that was his little sister. 

Then I fell in love with definitions. Dictionaries and Thesauruses unlocked a door to MORE WORDS! I've been a nerd with zest most of my life 😆 You might be pumping your fist in the air in solidarity or feeling a feeling of perplex-dom (I also like to make up my own words)- or somewhere in between. I hope you'll continue reading on- there are some nuggets in here for you no matter where you fall on that spectrum- nuggets related to you and your horse. 

Now, in the present day, I still love words and what they can do for us. How they can connect us and elevate us. I'm fascinated by the fact that one word can have so many definitions depending on the person uttering it. Especially when it comes to horsemanship.

Feel is one of those words. Recently in our A Learner's Journey FB group, I asked folks to share their definitions of feel. So many fabulous answers came out of it. Combined, they create a rich, comprehensive view of a tiny little word.

Side note: you might already be in the FB group- yay! It's such a great collection of people. Maybe your definition (or part of it) is included below- thank you for sharing! If you aren't in the group yet, if you'd like to join us- we'd LOVE to have you! It's a safe, supportive place to share about your horsemanship journey. Click here to join us. If you haven't joined because you can't do FB- I understand and haven't given up on finding an alternative.

Here are a few of the answers to the questions of "What does FEEL mean to you?". (If you haven't shared yours yet- I'd love to hear your answer- you can share it in the group here -you'll need to join the group first if you haven't already- OR shoot me an email.) If you'd like to delve in even deeper to the concept of feel- I wrote a blog post called "How Do You Feel?" that you might enjoy.

Dale Bwith Nic it’s like he reads my mind and I read his mind before any action begins to happen, maybe with a flick of his ear or a tilt of my head; it’s not a feel in the sense of a touch, but esp so to speak; in Charley’s words “Nic is with me and present and we “feel” each other” Barb and I experience this all the time as a team, thinking the same at a moment in time “taking the words right out of my mouth” - I think I am finally finding that with Nic too, yay!

Rita D: it’s that ongoing conversation that leads us to the feel, the understanding of that partnership. It’s the give and take of two beings.

Renee S: That’s such a hard one and one that I probably struggle with the most. To me the FEEL is so much more than the physical form of holding our lead line softly and have our horse follow that feeling softly. Learning not to pull but hold if need be, etc. to me the FEEL goes into that mental side as well. When I am reading my horse in any moment I know that my mind and eyes can objectively fail me in my assessment but if I feel what they are feeling it always goes to serve me better especially if I get the timing right. But like I said, I still struggle with having the right FEEL.

Cathy M: I think feel has a lot to do with having an almost intuitive understanding of what your horse is thinking and will do and then having the knowledge and timing to respond appropriately.to any given moment.

Carol C: It’s easy to lose when you are thinking too hard about what you are doing!

Bonnie W: Focus, Timing, Balance all work together to give you "Feel". It may also involve a sense of intuition, gut, and heart about a particular situation or learning experience. It is the "elusive discovery" we all want to find and work towards.

Lisa T: Such an interesting question and can be viewed from so many perspectives and on so many levels...Can you recognize when they are in a learning frame of mind - can you recognize if they are worried or stressed? What does your horse feel from you? Are you asking, telling, begging?? They are so intuitive - they can tell what your emotions are and what you are feeling even more than we can ourselves.

Wendy H:  It seems to be an individual or almost personal question. Answered from each perspective. Personally for me where I am at in my journey in my horsemanship I would say FEEL is harmony. I am working on riding in harmony. I can feel when he understands what i am asking of him, I can feel when he is putting some effort into it. I can feel harmony when he reads my thoughts. It's the best thing. So, maybe my definition is more physical. But, I understand what others are defining it as and I agree with them all.

Stevie J: I think feel is more like telepathy or intention than what any part of my body is actually feeling because it is the intention that directs the body. If my horse and I have that strong mental connection that is when it is like telepathy.

Terri M: My ancient (1940s) dictionary offers, “to be aware of, experience and to be aware of being”. My Apple iPhone dictionary, “be aware of” through touch, emotion or sensation. So, key repetition I think is AWARENESS. I may or may not have it but by golly my horse certainly has it!

Missy S: Feel goes so deep on many different levels and as I learn more it goes deeper and means more!

Mandy W: Mental, emotional and physical connection

Tessa C: Feel to me is like flowing energy together with my little mare like a dance. Other days the energy might be too strong either with me or with her - how interesting how does one deal with that. Pressure and release we are taught by our horses to get the flow of energy reunited. Feeling is so different from touching, eating is so different to tasting, hearing is different from listening, looking is different to seeing. All are the extra layer peeling off of learning.

Barb B: Feel....to me its a mental or physical sensation i get as a response to something that has taken place.

Tara S: My current horse Moses is trying to teach me how to FEEL and he is the best teacher that I’ve ever had. He is sensitive, challenging, spiritual and wonderful. I am learning to be more intuitive and present. I’m really trying to improve my timing! I am constantly checking in to make sure my intention is clear. I’m really learning the value of pause. I’m letting go of judgment and the use of good boy because the opposite is bad boy and replacing with simply thank you. I’m thinking that Feel is a deep and powerful and meaningful conversation between two sentient being who share mutual respect and love.

What's your definition? It will most likely evolve as time passes and you gain more and more experience. If you want more thoughts on feel- you can read my definition here. As Bill Dorrance says in the quote above, it can't be taught- but gained through experience. The more you experience the deeper your understanding becomes- if you're searching for it and trying to improve- which if you've read this far- I'd say you definitely are. This journey is never ending. I'm grateful to be on it with you. 

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