Tips and Training What Does That Even Mean?

What Is Feel? Part Two

6 September 2016

What Is Feel? Part Two

Confidence comes from Feel.

Confidence flows automatically from knowing how to work with your unique sense of Feel.  It’s like a whole new world of skill opens up.

We talked in Part One about how trying to copy someone else’s way of feeling for their horse is doomed to failure and leaves us feeling like we are not enough.  That is confidence destroying stuff.

The opposite is also true – when we learn how to use our own unique sense of Feel, we are systematically developing what some people call good instincts and that brings a whole new level of Confidence.

When we are using our unique natural talent for Feel, we instinctively know where to be, what to do when something happens, when to keep asking and when to stop and when to change what we’re doing.  We can feel our horse and his or her braces and resistances, we can understand what’s behind them and know what to do to help them.

Yes, knowledge and experience is part of that too – but they are a poor substitute for Feel.

A fundamental part of “Feel” is the ability to create a willingness on the part of the horse to be felt and to feel you too – and THAT is what makes the ultimate togetherness possible – horse and human feeling for each other.  Understanding and developing and using our own unique natural talents for Feel brings us into a place of being where our horse becomes willing to be our partner in this deep communication.

The Five Feels

I cannot emphasise this too much – the big deal about the five different ways of feeling for others, is about celebrating our own unique strengths and natural talents. When we focus on and come from our strengths, rather than trying to copy someone we admire – only THEN, can we use our own feel as a guide to inner peace and happiness too.

When our Feel is our OWN, we can use it to produce excellent outcomes with our horses too.

When our Feel is our OWN, we can use it as guidance to get whatever we want.

Everyone has their own unique mixture of these five feels, so as you read about them, don’t get bogged down in trying to define yourself.

And be aware that if one or more of the following Feels doesn’t make any sense to you, that’s OK too – because it’s just not one of your strengths.

Heart Feel

I call it Heart Feel, when people have a natural ability to see what is REALLY going on behind a problem or behaviour. They AUTOMATICALLY look for what’s going on, without blame or judgement and without making the horse or person wrong.

The gentleness and sensitivity of this way of experiencing feel and connection with a horse or human is particularly lovely to watch in action. Even dangerous horses will usually respond to these people very quickly.

In our science based society, these gentle and sensitive souls too often feel like they are out of step with everyone else and like all the other feels, if they try to be in step with everyone else, they are left feeling that they are not enough.

Physical Feel

Effortlessly powerful posture…is the key to using our physical feel with a horse. Good athletes will often have strong physical feel as part of their natural talent.

People with strong physical feel – when it’s in balance – have the ability to kinesthetically feel the harmony (or not) between themselves and the horse.  When their physical feel is working for them, when they are in perfect and effortlessly powerful physical posture, they can physically feel the horse’s braces and resistances with their own body in a way that creates an opportunity to dissolve those problems.

Physical feel is what enables us to delicately and precisely communicate with our horse with the whole of our body.

Energetic Feel

The great riding master/teachers are describing energetic feel when they talk about the circuit of energy or the circuit of power between horse and rider. Energetic feel gives you another tool to use, to flow you and your horse into the One-ness – the amazing artistry of togetherness.

To get an idea of how energetic feel works with horses, think of the way that a school of fish move together in absolute harmony – fast or slow, whoosh… they just all turn in the same direction at the same time – it seems with one mind.  Using energetic feel to sense the blockages and resistances and clear them, ultimately brings that same ability to flow together, horse and rider together as one in a beautiful harmony.

Mental Feel

Mental feel, amongst other things, is our problem solving ability. Most people with good mental feel enjoy the more intellectual problem solving approach. You will often find us taking notes at clinics and really enjoying lecture type presentations.

When we have a natural talent in mental feel but haven’t been taught to use it like the gift that it is, we can just about worry ourselves into an early grave. That’s just mental feel in overwhelm.

Mental feel is a wonderful natural problem solving ability when we know how to use it. When we learn how to listen to it, instead of trying to shut it up, the mind quietens down so easily – then the ideas and thoughts for solving a problem flow easily and usefully and often with great joyfulness.

Emotional Feel

We all experience emotions, but horses are excellent emotional communicators, so those of us who have a strong natural talent in emotional feel can be more easily overwhelmed by the force of our emotions around horses, especially when we haven’t learned to use that sensitivity as the gift of connection that it is.

Horses are easily frightened and as I said, they are good emotional communicators, so many people feel their connection to their horse as fear or nerves or a lack of confidence.  The emotional communication from the horse can be so strong that it’s easy for people to assume it’s their own fear or nerves or lack of confidence.  Sound familiar?

And here’s another biggie.

These nerves that people experience are a gift of sensitivity that enable us to help our horse find the emotional well being that is an absolutely fundamental foundation for their physical well being.

Emotional stress causes physical tension – you know that already right?  You’ve noticed in your own body when those muscles at the top of your shoulders tighten up with stress?  And eventually your lower back starts aching too?

What you may not have noticed, is that it’s the same for our horses.  And leaving that physical tension untreated eventually causes bigger problems – the muscles will actually pull bones out of place.  It also causes poor posture in our horse and ourselves that impacts on joints in a way that causes all kinds of physical problems in a list way too long for this article here.

The great news is that these physical problems can be reversed by addressing the horse’s underlying emotional stress.  This is why so many of my students find that health problems in their horses steadily improve as they systematically help their horse to live each aspect of their lives without fear.

You will not have physical wellbeing for either horse or human for too long – indeed you cannot have long term physical wellbeing – unless you have emotional wellbeing.

Have you recognised any of your own natural talents yet? Don’t get tangled up into trying to define yourself – the path to your unique Feel for your horse is simply to notice each element of these Feels as they arise when you are with them.

Get familiar with what your own body feels like, notice what emotions you are feeling, notice any prickles or flow or stuck energy in your own body, notice what thoughts are on your mind –  so that you are able to notice any changes that happen that will be your Feel for your horse.

THAT is the foundation of brilliant Feel for your horse.


Jenny Pearce has a variety of programs which help people to develop their Feel for their horse in different ways. ‘21 Days to a Quiet Mind’ is a good starting point, bringing you that awareness of your own self that we’ve been talking about here. Jenny says:  “A Quiet Mind is the foundation key behind superb Feel, perfect timing, clear thinking, calmness and confidence. It’s the foundation key behind excellent riding, empathetic groundwork and being able to develop all your horse’s routine activities so that they’re happy and comfortable with everything that you do.”

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