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Leslie Desmond Interview, Part One

Published: 4/4/2013
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Editor's Note:
Fourteen years ago, Leslie Desmond wrote the popular True Horsemanship Through Feel with the late and legendary Bill Dorrance. Since its first edition came out in 1999, the renowned horsewoman has produced scores of DVDs, audio CDs, and traveled extensively to teach thousands about horse-human partnerships and the feel of release.
She sat for a NickerNews/BestHorsePractices interview before starting her clinic at Stone Tree Acres in Marion, MA.

Read Part I here.

Maddy Butcher Gray (MBG): Scientists and people who need to define things literally struggle to define Feel.

Leslie Desmond (LD): As they have struggled for a millennia to define the concept of love.
There are certain things that maybe you can’t put in a box. And maybe that might be one of them. But you know it when you see it and you know it when you feel it.

And that’s part of the gift that the horse has for us, is that that horse can take you through a door that no one has ever opened for you.

MBG: When someone asks you to define Feel what do you say?

LD: I would say that I spent four and a half years watching Bill Dorrance struggle with the same definition which he wanted to commit to paper. In the end he divided it into six aspects, out of a multitude of other options.
He got it very well defined for his own purposes. But I would just take an approach like this and say:

If you can understand the difference between the way that you would remove with your finger an eyelash from the face of an infant versus what it would require of you to knock a fencepost down through some permafrost…If you can really understand the difference and the variations in those applications of feel, than you’ve got enough to proceed.
If you, for example, can’t taste the difference between a habanero and vanilla ice cream then we’ll have to go to another example.
If you want to go to Houston in August and step out of an air-conditioned plane and can’t feel the difference, then we’ll have to keep looking for whatever aspect of feel you do understand.

Most people are going to be able to know either with sight, sound, touch or smell… to have some measurable response.
They’re going to know that they are having a difference experience of those things…
All of those are variations on feel.

But the feel I’m interested in teaching people is the feel of release.

The feel I’m interested in teaching people is the Feel of Release.

MBG: With the advance of technology and all the possibilities that are out there to communicate on a technological level, do you find your students more in touch with you or less in touch with you?

LD: It’s far better.

MBG: Is that because they relish the opportunity for a real experience? What do you attribute it to?
LD: Television and the Internet. Because everything except what I’m doing is out there. And in multiples.

By the time someone’s really talking to me seriously, they know what they want. I think by the time they pick up the phone and call me, they’re sure that they’re unsure about what to do next.

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4/12/2013 Jennifer Bukowski
I attended Leslie Desmond's clinic in MA last month and have been devouring her audio books these past few weeks. What a passionate, grounded, positive woman. Her interactions and communication with the horse she was working with were so purposeful and clear. It was an experience I will never forget and want to thank her for the sharing all that she has learned as she travels the world, educating willing and open individuals about the beauty of feel.

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