Can Feel and Connection be Learned?
Can it Be Taught?

I want to talk to you today about feel and connection.

It’s interesting because we all hear those two words a lot. Professional trainers, amateurs, and recreational riders want that elusive sense of feel and connection with our horses.

In the past, I’ve asked you to define those terms according to you. That’s because there’s no one definition, and they mean different things to different people.

Right now, I’m going to share my definitions with you.

That’s what this video is all about – and how I teach them.


I think of feel as something that comes from us and has two primary parts.

The first is our ability to get into a state of body and mind that is open, aware, and non-judgmental. It’s also being calm and relaxed – not like falling off a log laid-back, but definitely at ease.

And secondly, when we’re in the saddle, we perceive and feel our horse through our seat and legs, along with a general open perception to receive information from their point of view as it unfolds.

To me, the ability to feel is very specific and definitely can be learned. It’s just a matter of understanding how to do it and practicing.

On the other hand, connection is about a beautiful and extraordinary relationship. In human terms, when I feel connected with you, I feel at ease. I trust you. We can talk back and forth in real-time communication and be ourselves.

When we ride a horse if both of us feel connected, things don’t have to be perfect, but both the horse and rider know the right intention is there to be safe with each other.

With a person or a horse, connection is feeling safe and trusting. It’s earned over time. You know everything is okay.

Connection requires seeing things from the other person’s or the horse’s point of view, listening, and understanding what’s jiving with them at the moment.

Those are my definitions of feel and connection.

Then there’s always the debate about whether or not these two experiences can be taught – or learned.

I know they can be taught and learned.

For the past three years, I did a program called Well Connected. It’s a series of exercises to help you learn feel and connection.

And, if you’ve been with me for a while, you know that when I prepare to release a program, I do a free mini-course that introduces you to how I think about the course topic and how I will teach it – what’s coming up.

In the free version, you have many opportunities to learn. It’s in-depth, especially my latest version I’ve been doing this year.

It’s called a boot camp, and by definition, boot camp means immersive and intensive. And even though I say ‘intense,’ it’s a fun kind of intense. You can pick it up anywhere along the way. You don’t have to do every little thing to enjoy it. You can go all in or pick up a few gems as you can that might possibly transform your riding life.

So the Well Connected boot camp will start Wednesday, July 12.

Here’s what will happen and why it’s called a boot camp.

Every day for 12 days, except on the weekends, I will have a 5-10-minute “AM Horse Gem” about how horses perceive us and our world and how they learn.

These morning times are not about teaching you about riding but understanding your horse more. I’m super excited about these. This is the first time I’ve done this in exactly this way. It’s going to give you some ‘ahas.’ They’re short and sweet and meant to help you begin your day.

Then on four of the 12 days and in the evenings, I will do a short 20-30 minute training. I’ll do four of these. They’ll be all about developing feel and connection in the saddle. The first one Is this coming Thursday, July 13.

There’s a lot of new information in this boot camp. I show you how I teach feel, and connection and how you can add whatever you like to what you’re already doing with your horse.

I know you’ll have a fantastic time. It will be a lot of fun.

You can sign up for the boot camp by clicking the link below this video.

And then leave a comment for me. Let me know your definitions of feel and connection. What are your challenges, and what would you like me to cover in the boot camp?

I hope to see you starting Wednesday morning, at 9:30 Central time for our first AM Horse Gem. It will be a quick and energizing way to start your day.

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9 Comments on Can Feel and Connection be Learned?
Can it Be Taught?

  1. Gayle Kiser on Sun, 9th Jul 2023 4:25 pm
  2. Hi, Barb. I try not to miss any trainings you offer. Why? Because yours are interesting, thought provoking and I love your steadfast kindness and support at the heart of all you do. Looking forward to this series as am just back in the saddle after two torn meniscus over winter kept me on the ground. I’ve been on twice and am overwhelmed with love for this horse who responds to the connection piece as well as any horse I’ve owned. And, he has a sense if humor, curiosity, and likes to work. But he hasn’t been off property for months on trail, and that’s where feel and confidence work will help us retune and reconnect in new surroundings where trust in eachother is foremost. Looking forward to being “with” your sweet self again soon. Always love new ways to think, learn, and act in these settings you generously offer.

  3. Terrie Goiney on Sun, 9th Jul 2023 7:57 pm
  4. Looking forward to this bootcamp, love your insights . Feel and connection for me is a on going journey. Always learning with my horse listening to his view, building our connection and my feel to work together in a smooth way to have my thoughts become his and at times his become mine. I look forward to your gems on feel and connection. 🙂

  5. Mark Mahnken on Mon, 10th Jul 2023 12:36 am
  6. It’s been said by the 7 time champ that feel cannot be taught. I tend to agree as we all have our own individual feel. True feel does not come easy. It is gained by many hours, years and decades with a real want to desire. I believe that we can guide others to the correct path so they can find their own feel and timing. Feel and timing take many years/decades to develop and is a never ending pursuit. That’s why I love this game we can become better with age and knowledge. After 48 years I’m still developing my feel and getting better at it. Forever a student.

  7. Barbara Kiipper on Mon, 10th Jul 2023 4:53 am
  8. I have followed you since the ’80s
    I truly love your short videos; they are a great way to learn.
    You have inspired me and helped me in many ways thru the years.
    I lost a daughter to cancer,perhaps this is where your positive approach to healing is so good.
    Much Love

  9. Elaine Bohlin on Mon, 10th Jul 2023 9:34 am
  10. Hi Barb! Count me in! I am really excited about this new “Well Connected” especially now that I have the “In The Flow” perspective.

    Have to say I always love seeing Nic. He’s so beautiful and so funny, it just puts me in a good mood every time I see him. That big sigh he gave out with and turning and looking at you like “OK, Mom, let’s go do something!”

  11. Diane on Mon, 10th Jul 2023 11:22 am
  12. Thanks Barb for providing this insights. I believe that there are people who have a god-given gift of feel for horses. However, the majority of us must learn and be coached in understanding and observing what the horse is communicating.

    So appreciate you for giving us ungifted people these insights.

  13. Missy Ainsley on Mon, 10th Jul 2023 2:19 pm
  14. I believe some have the God-given gift of the “physical” feel and/or the “emotional”connection with horses, just as those born with the natural ability to be a singer, artist, or athlete. All of these things can be taught to an extent, but those who come by it naturally definitely have a leg up on the rest of us, and tend to be the ones we learn the most from our endeavors to improve our skills. As a teacher, I see this happen all the time. I will say that those who really want it badly enough and are willing to work hard enough can achieve amazing things!

  15. Carol MacGregor on Mon, 10th Jul 2023 11:11 pm
  16. Hi Barb, Thank you for offering another free class of “well connected” before starting the in depth portion. I believe “feel” has to do with how much pressure you apply to a horse, either on the ground or under saddle, when you are wanting them to “do” something–ie pressure and then how quickly you release when they have a given their effort to yield to that pressure. And I believe a person can definitely develop “feel” over time as they practice. To me “connection” is a little harder to define–maybe it has more to do with how a horse responds to you in general. Hmmm Thank you again for this new workshop.

  17. Candis Molde on Tue, 11th Jul 2023 6:53 am
  18. Bless you Barb ! You are so giving and so helpful. In the short time I have been with you I have grown with my horse . We are bonding like never before and each time I ride her I feel her trust which means we advance each ride . I owe that to you and your teachings . I love your methods , your encouragement and your experience that you kindly share with others . Thank you doesn’t seem enough for all you do for other riders and our horses . Bless your heart lady !

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