You Understand, Right? (Part 12): Who Will You Choose?
Characters: Dean Winchester x Sister!Reader / Friend!Reader, Sam Winchester x Sister!Reader / Friend!Reader
Length: 1549+ words
A/N: A lot of you guys said you wanted more Sam in this series, but I don’t think this is what you had in mind huhuuhuhuu. Imma try to incorporate his character more in the series bc I do agree that he has been neglected!
“I understand if you want me to leave,” Y/N mumbled against his chest, her grip on his jacket loosening itself.
“Leave? Leave where?” Dean asked, confused at her words.
“I betrayed your trust. I didn’t believe you. I nearly gave the Colt to Crowley! You have a million and one reasons to hate me!”
“Hey, none of that,” Dean rebutted sharply. “I told you when you left that I would never hate you. You’re family, and nothing will change that.”
“C’mon. Let’s go back to the motel.” Dean helped her to get on her feet, letting her lean on him for support before stabilizing herself. “You good?”
“Yea.” She kept a hand around his elbow for support as they made the short trip back to their motel room.
When they went back in, Sam was just putting on his shirt, his jeans already on, and his hair still wet from the shower.
“Where’d you guys go?” he asked, before his gaze settling on Y/N’s bruised neck. “What the hell? What happened?” In two giant steps, he was in front of her, a gentle had lifting her head to examine her blue-tinted skin.
“I stole the Colt,” Y/N replied.
“What? Why would you do that?” Sam’s eyes widened in shock.
“I stole it for Crowley. He said he needed it.”
The youngest Winchester took three steps backwards, as if her skin was fire that burned his skin.
I wrote in this post that I feel the Colt has always been Dean’s security blanket. He thinks of himself as invincible with the Colt in his hand. I would argue that he feels chosen to wield it, and this brings confidence and strength. The Colt is a powerful ally, with a history all of its own, fighting the good fight when aimed at evil things by good men.
I also wrote about the ways in which Cas represents those same things to Dean: Cas entered the scene as the most powerful ally the brothers have ever had. He’s immediately a point of strength for Dean, no matter how wary Dean is of this imposing supernatural creature. Cas comes with work for Dean Winchester assigned to him by God: how could it not make Dean feel like the might of Heaven has got his back? Dick angels, or no. By 12x19, with all they’ve been through, the reliance Dean feels for Cas is undeniable, even to Dean himself - he wants Cas around, he wants Cas to be alright, alive, and for Cas to stay close, or at least answer his goddamn messages, and Dean still hides this want behind phrases like “We could’ve needed the backup”, because it’s too complicated to tell the truth, even when the truth is simple.
Cas saved Dean from what he was becoming in Hell - what he was allowing himself to become. Cas stopped Dean from saying yes to Michael. Cas is the reason the Mark didn’t corrupt Dean’s soul to the core. Cas stopped demon!Dean from killing Sam. And Dean’s love for Cas blocked any attempt The Darkness Amara Sister of God made at capturing Dean’s heart. Cas is tied to the goodness in Dean - his compassion, humanity and capacity for deep, deep unconditional and abiding love. (yes yes very romantic) (but also very true)
So, with these parallels between Cas and the Colt in mind, here’s something that made me smile:
In 12x19 the brothers have a short exchange where they discuss how Cas played Dean and took the Colt. Dean is infuriated, while Sam is incredulous to how the hell Cas could even get the Colt in the first place, if it was where it was supposed to be: locked in the safe.
And Dean makes this face:
Yup, them dimples of discontent, because, of course, the Colt wasn’t in the safe. It wasn’t locked away, out of sight, in the dark, by itself. It was where Dean could see it and touch it and be absolutely certain of it being where he put it last. And yes, Dean is a control freak to the core, but also - with Cas missing AGAIN - it’s quite understandable that this other thing, this other thing that also, like Cas, anchors Dean to some sense of faith in himself, and faith in the fact that he can kick it in the ass - whatever it is - because at least he has this other outside thing to rely on, it’s understandable that this thing is kept where Dean feels it’s safest, too.
Yes, it was. And I bet you sleep better with it in your bed, Dean. Not only do you know precisely where it is, but you feel stronger with it there. You feel protected.
Okay, yes, thank you for helping me make my point.
It’s also quite lovely how hard this is for Dean to admit to Sam. Dean’s been caught out in making a reckless choice while seething over the reckless choice Cas has just made. So yes there will be dimples, but also a confession. Honesty, when confronted.
What I’m getting at here is that this exchange - looking at the close parallels between Cas and the Colt, looking at how Cas taking the Colt - choosing not to wield it because he finds a better way - and the Colt ending up destroyed while Cas is, in a sense, restored, is all extremely symbolic to me.
(Especially when looking at the broken Colt at the start of 12x20 and the exchange the brothers have over it.) (Because perhaps the Colt isn’t meant to be fixed.) (Perhaps it’s time for the safety blanket to be let go of.) (Perhaps there’s no need for it anymore.) (Because that spot in Dean’s bed will be occupied by Cas.)
Okay, I am reading into things here, but think about it. Think about how the episode ends –>
Dagon gets her hands on the Colt and destroys it, leaving Dean to yell out a feeble “No!” - but it’s much too late for protestations. The Colt is gone.
Still reeling from the shock of losing something that’s given him the upper hand for so many years, Dean’s now confronted with this:
This confrontation is a perfect emotional mirror for the destruction of the Colt.
The difference between the destruction of the Colt, and Dagon attempting to destroy Cas, is that we’re led into this moment through Dean yelling “No!” before Dagon even touches Cas, rather than his protest being too little too late.
And, yes, dear friends, this tells us which source of strength is the most important one to Dean Winchester.
There’s also the rather amazing detail to remember that Cas destroys the destroyer of the Colt. He sets her aglow, just as she did with the Colt. He’s the more powerful source of strength in every sense and he always has been. (granted his power is supplemented by the nephilim when destroying Dagon, but that’s thanks to Cas’ inherent goodness - I believe that if he hadn’t shown such humanity around Kelly, the nephilim wouldn’t have chosen Cas as protector)
Either way, Cas will not simply be destroyed, because he can’t be.
The Colt may have run its course (or it may not, I sincerely don’t know, but I’d love it if it has) but Cas isn’t merely a weapon or a tool - and this is the moment when he steps completely out of thinking of himself as such (which he has done for a long time now, assigning himself that role because he thought it was the only thing the brothers needed of him) and begins the movement towards the role he’s stepping into in S13.
I think this role means… well, you know –> that he’ll end up sleeping on Dean’s pillow. Won’t it be so much nicer than having cold, hard steel in your bed, Dean?
The Good Side of Natural Horsemanship - Tom Dorrance Talks About Horses in “True Unity”
Growing up, I was taught the horse business by my mother, who has always strongly emphasised to me the importance of release, timing, softness, and consistency, as well as human and equine body language. I’ve often been complimented on my soft touch, something that would set me apart from people following more traditional training methods. Dutch tradition is already quite a lot softer than the stories one hears about the “breaking” of horses in the USA’s olden days, but apparently what my mom and I (and people educating themselves via the same channels) did was sufficiently different to warrant comment here and there: Natural Horsemanship (NH) is – still! – in many eyes seen as weird, alternative, ‘too soft’, and so on. Yet despite that, people did give me positive feedback.
Hence my surprise when I, a hapless young adult, joined horseblr, and saw tons of posts hotly debating that NH is wrong, abusive, outdated, etc. I was so confused! For quite a while I shot into a defensive mode, until I started reading up more about learning theory and the advantages of positive reinforcement. I was hooked! I started fairly uncritically denouncing everything NH-ish: “aversives are bad, mmkay?!” And whilst I still agree that dominance theory definitely is outdated and wrong, I’ve also recently started thinking about how I worked with my horses before I discovered clicker training, and I’m once again confused.
Because where on earth did this dominance thing come from in the first place? I’ve called myself an adherent of the NH-movement, but I’ve never personally used dominance as a training concept/foundation. Sure, I’ve called horses ‘dominant’ sometimes, but this was generally in relation to the horse’s behaviour towards other horses. If a horse was badly behaved towards humans, I knew that it wasn’t his fault, but his owner’s, and that it was a problem easily fixed by teaching him some manners. I also did not recognise the accusations (plus proof in the form of eyewitness accounts and video snippets) of abuse and harsh methods from my own experiences in clinics, lessons, and training – wasn’t that exactly what NH was trying to improve in the first place?
Basically, I think that NH has gotten an unfair bad rap in online communities. There are some trainers lumped into this category that I think do not belong there, because they are working against the foundational principles (kind methods, respect (from horse to human as well as from human to horse!), and partnership between man and animal) of the movement. (coughclintonandersoncough) With this in mind I started reading a book by Tom Dorrance, whom you might call one of the founders of the modern NH-movement, and found that the man had a very sophisticated understanding of concepts like flooding, threshold, and the effects of bodily discomfort upon a horse’s behaviour.
As cherry on top of the cake there is no mention of dominance theory to be found anywhere in this book, which leads me to conclude this is a concept inserted into NH at a much later date, and is (imho) not part of the movement’s definition. I’d like to follow up on this idea by reading a book by Tom’s brother Bill, and by seeing if I can get my hands on material from their student Ray Hunt, to see if there is more to be found on the subject.
I’ll be showing you some quotes from this book, along with a page number and context, wherever possible. This book is a bit hard to read: it’s almost like a stream of consciousness, and has a tendency to randomly hop from one subject to the next, only to come back to the first subject several paragraphs on. I would like to assert that the following is merely my own interpretation: Tom Dorrance was a person with a rather philosophical mindset, and that combined with the fact that he is trying to write about the fairly abstract concept he calls ‘feel’ makes multiple interpretations possible. My copy’s ISBN no. is 978-0-9850839-0-8. I will lump together quotes according to subject, not the book’s chronology.
Bold emphasis mine.
These excerpts tell me that Dorrance had a very good understanding of the concept of threshold. He appears to be looking for the signs of when he reached it, and backed off before the horse became completely overwhelmed. Imo this is one of the most important skills to have when training animals.
*about teaching a colt that humans are safe* (10) The colt was wanting to make that contact, but self-preservation wouldn’t quite allow it. He would get to about a certain point – stand there by his mother, kind of uneasy – then he had to go somewhere, you see. Then he would get out way from his mother a little farther, because we were beside her. We didn’t try to do anything; the colt would come back. […] We just waited there, and he came back. Well, each time, the colt felt more secure when he got back.”
(30)“As you are approaching, the horse could be a little bothered; you try to regulate that, you try to ease off a little to where the horse can accept it. It may be just on a teeter, until the horse finds out it’s OK.”
(53) *student* “The first time I met and worked with Tom he really helped me on getting green colts accustomed to having a rope swung on them. He made me realize the fine line one works on as you deal with this introduction to the horse. This fine line realization has helped me hundreds of times with many different situations. I had a colt that was really afraid of a rope. So Tom told me to raise my right hand with no rope in it two or three times. After the colt accepted that, I put one coil of my rope in my hand and did the same thing. The colt then got used to that so I took one swing and put another coil in my loop. The horse moved. Tom stopped me, told me to stop swinging if the colt moved, then start the same thing over again. This colt was really green and didn’t know to move out yet, so I was really accomplishing two things at once. Anyhow, this went on for a while. Finally the colt would stand for one swing, so I went on to two or three. Naturally the colt would move, and here is where the fine line thing comes in. Tom told me to swing my rope twice, then stop, and so on. Pretty quick I could feel the colt get ready to move and I would stop swinging so as to not push him over the line, then start over again. It wasn’t but a few minutes that I could swing my rope until my arm gave out. This made me realize this fine line tolerance and acceptance barrier that a horse and even a man has.”
(104-105) *about a horse that would walk away when mounting* “I asked Susie to just pretend she was going to get on. The horse was preparing to move forward, and Susie stopped everything. Then I asked her to get ahold (sic) of the saddle horn and put a little weight on it and act like she was going to get on; then to put a little more weight in the stirrup, to feel the horse. The horse looked as if he was going to stay there forever and then he got a little teeter – now that is the body language you look for. Before he even moved, the horse was liable to do what he did.”//also about body language
Having good timing is also an essential skill - especially so if you work with aversive methods. There are a lot more examples to be found in the book than these two, but I had to make choices for brevity’s sake.
(20) *about the timing of release of pressure* “It is released when the horse is going to yield – that is the time when you ease the pressure, before it happens. If you see that it is going to happen, I’d say you withdraw your pressure before it happens, because if he is starting to do it, and the pressure is still there, it’s in the way of the horse.”
(105) *about horse that would walk away when mounting* “In Susie’s preparation to get on, there were times when it was right to get on; in the next instant that time had gone by and it wasn’t fitting.”
One Size Fits Nobody - Individuality of Horses and Riders
I think where a lot of training and behaviour issues have come from is the plethora of ‘methods’ and ‘plans’ to train animals. For some people and for some horses it will work, but there are just as many for whom it is not right, and often the choice is made based on the owner’s preference, not the horse’s. I like that Dorrance does not stake a brand like so many modern trainers do, and that he emphasises that what may work for one might not work for another.
(12) “There’s such a variation of situations that you can’t say, ‘Do this and you get that.’”
(13) “Sometimes the horse doesn’t seem to understand, but it doesn’t seem to bother him too much. Other horses, if they don’t understand – they get bothered all over. So, there again, it’s the individual variation.”
(13) “This is what I’m trying to get riders to do, to operate from where the horse is instead of trying to operate from where the rider is.”
(25) “Just because someone seems to be getting something worked out pretty well, another person could try to do the same thing, and it wouldn’t work at all, because he wouldn’t be prepared for it.”
(57) “Each horse is different and it’s all going to take different time and different pressure with each horse, because you are literally dealing with the horses’ minds and they are all just so different. Everyone else is different too. Sometimes some riders just don’t get along with that horse’s mind, with that horse.”
(59) *student* “Then all of us have different feels – and all of us have different ways of thinking. It was kind of tricky for me to pick up my own feel – my own way of thinking – because I would love to be like Tom and I know I never will be, but if I could be a little bit like him my own life would be much softer.”
“(103) You try to analyse the horse and what he needs and work from there, instead of just going out there and trying to do the same thing with each individual horse. They are all different. You are trying to adjust to what the horse needs.”
(112) “I don’t think of it as trying to do it [a method by a trainer, UFS] exact or the same, because there is that difference in individuals. Just think of you as doing it and don’t try to think ‘This is what Tom would do’.”
The Fault Is Not With the Horse
Dorrance emphasises that the fault never lies with the horse. I also like that he mentions that a person ‘might be thinking of it as a takeover’, but the horse thinks he’s doing what he’s supposed to. It would be easy here to fall into the dominance trap, but he doesn’t. He acknowledges that horses and humans are different and that they do not naturally share a common language. Therefore it is not the horse’s fault if he misunderstands what we want him to do: it is the human’s responsibility to make himself understood.
“(9) When I observe people and horses, it often seems to me that when the horse is trying to avoid doing something, or maybe is not doing what the rider asks of him, it is because the horse’s sense of self-preservation is immediately taking effect. This may seem as though the horse does not want to cooperate. But the rider needs to recognize the whole horse: the horse has a basic need for self-preservation.”
(15)”I have helped riders who thought they had a horse problem, but I tell them the horse is having a ‘people problem.’ These riders don’t seem to realize that the horse thinks he is supposed to do just what he is doing; even though the horse doesn’t know why or what it is for. He is sure he is supposed to do it and does all he possibly can to do it. When this is happening, often the rider feels just as sure that the horse is doing what he is doing because he doesn’t want to do what the rider is asking. The rider may completely miss that the horse is doing just what he has been trained to do.”
(16)”The rider can miss the fact that he has trained the horse to do what he is doing. The rider can be thinking of it as a takeover, while the horse can be thinking he is doing OK.”
(74) “Any time I find that I have to use an undue amount of force or pressure my horse gets too upset. I know that I am missing somewhere, not that the horse is misbehaving.”
(74) “The horse may not be doing the thing that is the right thing for what the rider is asking him, but as far as the horse is concerned, he is doing the right thing.”
Less Is More
These quotes are about release and subtle aids. I think they show quite clearly that Dorrance came from the buckaroo/vaquero tradition, where minimal aids are practically elevated to an art form.
(17) *talking about when a horse needs support and when a horse will figure out an exercise on his own* “If the horse is going to make it anyway, these riders don’t get in the way, and that is so important.”
(18) “*about the horse doing an exercise but not entirely correct yet* There is a spot where they [horse, UFS] don’t really have it all together. This is the spot we are trying to get close to, so the rider can feel when it isn’t there, and be able to feel where the horse needs a little help, a little directing and support and when it is time to just let it happen.”
(20) “When it comes to where the horse is going to do it, then you leave as much up to him as you possibly can, so that he will do it. You are still supporting and directing, but you don’t have to do much once he gets to operating.”
(22) *about teaching a horse to back up, but the horse tends to move forward before going back. The rider will then basically let the horse walk into the bit, if I understand correctly.* “As the horse goes up into his pressure that he’s putting on himself, the rider will just wait and the horse will move his feet away from his own pressure. Don’t be in a hurry. You let the horse move his feet. You wait for his feet to move; don’t try to move them. The horse will do that.”
(118) “When the horse felt like he was going to make it, the rider was to ease off. Let the horse do as much as he possibly can without getting lost.”
(118) “For a while Joe was trying to do more than was needed on that horse. […] I told Joe the horse almost didn’t need him – but I emphasized that I’d said almost.”
Balance and Straightness
Again, more stuff to be found on this in the books. I like that he talks about this. I think this is a subject lacking in a lot of modern NH-methods, but Dorrance seems to understand quite well how many (behavioural) problems can be caused by a lack of balance and straightness.
(17) “I used to say all there is to it is feel, timing and balance.”
(22) “Straightness in a horse is one of the most important things to keep in mind, right from the time you start riding him. The horse doesn’t have to be straight, especially the first ride. The rider needs to be aware of the importance of where the horse is going to need the help, in order to learn to develop straightness, instead of just going along until something gets established and it gets in the way.”
I doubted for a while to include this, but since imprinting has become a bit of a fad in some circles, I decided this might be a good thing to point out. Again, more material in the book. It basically comes down to the fact that he wants foals to learn that people are safe, but not in a way that is overwhelming. He wants the initiative to be with the foal.
(31) *about working with foals* “My approach is not so sudden, and there is a time and a waiting for the foal to present itself to me more than me presenting myself to it.”
As well as understanding the concept of threshold, Dorrance seems to understand the damage flooding can cause. Flooding is a big issue in a couple of modern NH-methods, but Dorrance warns against it. There is more about this to be found in the book, but Dorrance talks in rather abstract terms (never knowing about the science behind this concept) and I would have to include too much surrounding text for it to make sense.
(32) “When I’m working with a foal, I try to keep things interesting enough for it, but anytime the foal gets a little unsure and wants to withdraw I back up and take a fresh start; maybe then, or some other day.”
(32) “On these young ones, if they get confidence in the person and themselves, then all a person has to do is watch that he doesn’t destroy it. You will expose them to experiences, and the horse will be able to separate and experience from the exposure and from you. You will be careful that you don’t upset the self-preservation; they measure and they evaluate. The horse can do so many things then by being aware how far he can carry himself on into situations and still be safe.”
Find the Cause, Don’t Treat the Symptoms / Small Steps
This category kind of falls together with the next one [setting up for success]. I think these quotes mostly speak for themselves.
(52) *student* “He [Tom, UFS] told me not to worry about the big problem, just to break it up into small problems – then to work on each small problem. When I solved each little problem I found I no longer had a big problem. “
(62) *student* “I watched Tom diagnose and cure a tail wringing mare at that clinic. Her rider was instructed where to sit in his saddle – he had been too far back and it annoyed the mare. When the rider’s position was corrected, the mare’s rigid back relaxed and she quit wringing her tail, which had nothing to do with spurs or leg aids.”
(110) “The fellow asked me if I had ever done anything about a horse’s switchy tail. ‘No!’ I said. Seems like if you can find out what is causing the irritation that is causing the tail to move, you can help overcome that problem and the tail will take care of itself. Just forget about the tail and try to figure out what is causing the problem, then work from there. […] People will recognize the symptom but not the real cause of the problem.”
Setting Up For Success
I like the emphasis of trying to anticipate situations so that you can stop a problem before it has even occurred. Again, this is an important skill, especially if you have to rely on aversive methods, however mild, to correct a problem whilst it is happening. These quotes can also be partially put under ‘timing’.
(106) *about a horse that would buck and take off* “I would have Martha back her, then change directions before the filly could take over. Then go forward before the horse could get set in there – then changed directions. If the filly started to kick up, I would have Martha raise up on a rein that would cause the horse’s body weight to be off balance so the filly couldn’t get in position to get her hind feet off the ground. […] If you can keep the horse moving, keep him from getting his head down and his feet up, and keep him from bracing on you, he has to go. This filly couldn’t do anything but move forward.”//also about timing
(115) “It seems like it is a little hard for riders to even think about trying to do something when everything seems to be going along all right. They don’t realize that is the time to get the horse to feeling with them a little so that by the time they get to this other spot the horse is already occupied, or they have it so they can carry on through.”
(116) “If this young rider had realized the importance of having things arranged before he came to this problem spot, he probably wouldn’t be having a problem.”
This concept, along with ‘feel’ (as I read it, a thorough understanding of body language and threshold as well as soft aids) is the core of the book. Dorrance wants people to realize that horses are living, feeling beings, and not just a tool used for work - remember, in his clinics he more often taught ranch hands than pleasure/hobby riders. This sympathy and empathy directed at the horse will make people think about what they are doing, and thus cause them to be softer in their approach to horses. In 2017, with the vast majority of horses in western society being used for pleasure riding it seems like a no-brainer, but I think that historic context is vital in understanding this book and the impact of the early NH-trainers.
(54) *student* “The reality often is that the rider wants the horse to do something that isn’t his wish, and he sees no real benefit in doing it. Also a reality is the fact that the horse is much stronger than the rider. So there is a need for domination which can’t be domination, but must become a tenuous partnership with mutual respect.”
–> I doubted for a while to include this, since the word ‘domination’ will doubtlessly be misinterpreted. Keep in mind this is a student talking about their experiences with him, and considering Tom himself never used that word in this book. The final part of the sentence is vital: the respect must be mutual, not one-sided from horse to human.
(75) “If the horse or I am uncomfortable, I am missing somewhere.”
(108) “It is the person’s responsibility to see that horse, to see where the person can help the horse on different things. […] You have to arrange it so the horse is first – his naturalness, his self-preservation.”
(76) *student* “Tom suggested that the colt and I would be more comfortable if I found something to stand on while mounting. As I look back, I realize that these suggestions represent one of the keys to what Tom does with a horse. Every attention is given to making the animal comfortable, from adjusting the stirrups to finding a way to mount without pulling the animal off balance. When the animal is comfortable, he is better able to do what the rider wants in a way that is also comfortable for the rider.”
(116) “This was a horse that was real scared inside. It was terrible that the horse got in that situation. Finally he began to realize what we were offering him was real, that it could be. There is a big responsibility to not destroy that. I told the group that horse needed lots and lots of petting. He has found out for the first time in his life he doesn’t have to be scared. Usually when a horse begins to understand this, he takes the better way. But that’s a real delicate situation. If the person doesn’t understand it, when the horse is starting to find it, he can destroy what he’s been trying to help the horse do. So many times people do that!”
(117) “You accompany the horse first, then you get him to accompany you; then you accompany each other. That is the unity. You are one. Wherever you go, you are one.”
(126) “Riders need to realize sometimes that horses need soothing, cuddling and comforting. Sometimes that isn’t too bad for people either. They can use that a little bit, too.”
(126) “Sometimes a horse would like to do the training; he gets to calling the shots.”
–> I was uncertain as to whether he meant this as a bad or a good thing: it was included in a chapter with ‘important insights’ which were just one or two sentences without context. However, because of his emphasis on teaching the horse to think and not be a mindless zombie, and because I think he would have included an additional statement if he thought this was a bad thing, I am choosing to read this at face value. This is a massive contrast to the idea of ‘respect’ (aka mindless obedience) of later NH-trainers.
Quotes without clear category that I personally found interesting and/or thought-provoking.
(111) “The horse got so the curve of his body was fitting the curve the person was traveling.”
(103) “The horse seems to come together and the four corners are complimenting each other, instead of each corner operating as an individual.”
–> I love this. After thinking some about this I applied it to my riding a couple days ago. Whilst it did not magically improve anything, it made it easier to feel where the problem was and I could then go and support the horse with aids to get the out-of-frame limbs back into the whole, so to speak. Especially useful in lateral movements.
(112) “It almost looked like the rider had the horse’s feet in his hands.”
–> Dorrance talks a lot about moving the feet, and teaching the horse to position the feet for optimum calibration so that they can immediately take off into the right canter lead, for example. In a clinic by a guy who grew up in the vaquero tradition, I was told that he felt it was a useless exercise; in his work he’d have no time to keep check of the horse’s feet. Whilst I understand the mindset, I think Dorrance wants to teach the horse this so that he can be more efficient at his job. If you dry practice this without cattle, it’ll basically become muscle memory to both rider and horse, requiring no thought at all in the middle of the action.
(122) “A horse has to learn, just like a person.”
(128) “The thing you are trying to help the horse do is to use his own mind.”
(130) “A lot of people get along pretty well with their horses until they go to training those horses.”
The purpose of this post is not to wax lyrical about Natural Horsemanship. What I do hope is that it will nuance the debate some. Dominance theory is not an inherent part of the movement. Neither is it a fundamental concept to use methods based on the behaviour of wild horses. These ideas are later additions, whose non-scientific nature should not be used to condemn everything under the NH-umbrella. What Tom Dorrance has presented in this book is a responsible and respectful way of working with horses through negative reinforcement, in a manner that is not physically or psychologically damaging to the animal.
Perhaps it is time to have a wider debate about the definition of Natural Horsemanship. Some trainers, which are currently grouped under this umbrella term, do not really fit in this category. I think there is an evolution (and/or degeneration) going on with these methods, and we need to come up with a new vocabulary to be able to debate the subject in a more nuanced manner. If there is interest, I am willing to make a more comprehensive post on this train of thought, but for now I will end here.
Ok, so I was going to do 12.10 because it had the most requests, but it wasn’t available on the CW site anymore, so I’m doing 12.18. It actually turned out really interesting. Thanks to everyone who put in your suggestions. hopefully I’ll be able to look at the others soon. 12.18 was requested by @a-little-nerdy-dude-with-wings.
As you can probably imagine, watching for all the editing takes a while and would take forever to write out all the scenes entirely(at least until there’s a transcript out), but I did it for the first 2 major scenes of the episode. Later, when I have more time, I’ll post what I think the editing in the full ep means, but have some examples of what I’ve been looking at, and looking for until then. Feel free to use the information however you wish.
Quick info on editing for tv shows:
Dramas have multiple types of cameras oftentimes, but only one is used during each setup, so they’re called “single camera shows”. A multi-camera show is like a lot of sitcoms, where things are filmed in order and more or less live like a play.
Shows like SPN are not filmed in order in the slightest and have lots of footage with different angles. They’ll often run the whole scene from each setup several times so there’s footage from different angles.
Split into roughly 7 days, each episode for most dramas generally undergoes the following editing passes. Some at the same time:
3 Days- Editor’s cut. This is the initial cut from the primary editor. They have to have a knowledge of the current arcs and where the arcs are going. They really have to know the show extremely well and be familiar with the character and story arcs. They have to understand how the show is edited because it can have a multitude of directors.
2 Days- Director’s cut. Directors may only direct for one episode and they tend to try and leave something of themselves in the work for their own needs so they can continue their careers. This is a difference between film and tv in that the director can try and keep scenes that specifically make them look good. The footage doesn’t always stay though, depending on whether it gels with the producer’s vision.
2 Days- Producer’s cut. This is where the showrunner comes in and makes sure that whatever is presented works with the entire arc, their vision, what’s planned for the future, etc. This is the last pair of story eyes essentially. This is where any arc long interference would be corrected, theoretically. This is where minor tweaking would occur to sell the showrunner’s vision.
2 Days- Network and S&P cut. This is like.. Censor stuff/legal stuff/timing stuff.. Let’s say there’s a song in there that can’t be used so they ask for a different one… stuff like that.
SPN has never really liked fancy cuts. Most cuts in the show are just straight cuts. The fanciest they usually go are J and L cuts. (audio from the previous shot carries over to the next, audio from the next shot starts in the previous). They’ll use other cuts in special circumstances like smash cuts (tense to calm, or calm to tense) or crossfades(montages use these a lot), but J, L, intercut(back and forth between scenes) and straight cuts are generally how the show goes. In general, if SPN can achieve whatever it wants to achieve without cutting, it won’t. Shot density plays into that a lot. But if it wants to achieve something that can’t be shown with only one shot, it will cut wherever is necessary to get what it wants. Usually in the form of reaction shots.
Like for all of the cowboys who ride problem horses and colt start without helmets then go on to sneer at people who do wear helmets, I hope your massive balls and huge ego protect your brain when you finally get on a horse who throws you in just the right way.
So I have this here Colt M1861 Navy passed down to me from an ancestor in the civil war and I’ve had it for many years and have yet to shoot it. Probably a long shot but if anyone has any ideas on how I could go about buying cartridges to fire it safely and what not that would be awesome.
I worked my girl on my own for a bit the other day. The paddocks have been icy so she hadn’t been running and playing much, so she was full of vinegar and excited to be on the good footing of the indoor arena! She bounced, bucked, and hopped her away around the first few circles - never really hauling on me, just… frolicking at the end of the rope =) Then she settled, head low, into a long stretching trot.
The trainer barged into the arena and came down on me. “I just saw that horse rear like three times!!! And you didn’t spin her, smack her, correct her in any way! I try to help you but you just don’t trust my methods. You’re going to go off on your own and keep coddling this horse and get yourself into a mess!”
And on, and on. Then the sentence that summed up our difference in training style:
“You just stand there WAITING for her to calm down. You have to MAKE her be calm!”
Forced calmness? Through snapping a chain on her nose, smacking her with a rope, hitting her in the face? Doesn’t sound calm at all… defeated maybe. Shut down. Broken. Her profession is to break horses. I want to train mine. I want to negotiate, not dominate. I would chose a horse that might rear up on me or throw a little buck now and then over a horse that’s had the personality beat out of it any day. Such a horse might simply do as it’s told as nothing it isn’t told, but if I play my cards right I think my horse will offer me more.
Yeah, I've been thinking that arguably Eileen's death can be partially traced back to Mary's resurrection and that "ripple effect," since Mary was the one to bring the Colt back into play. I don't know if that'll be plot-relevant later or if it's just one of those things we're left to contemplate on our own, but... yeah.
Yeah, it seems like everything that’s happened since the Colt came back has been a slow slide… I wrote something the other day about how it gave Dean a false sense of confidence in 12.18, and I think that’s a pretty good description of practically everything that’s happened since 12.08.
They finally thought the whole Lucifer mess had been cleared up, and instead of running in that moment of false confidence, they idiotically stood there with President Rooney.
In the next scene the Secret Service breaks down the door and arrests them. Kelly escapes, and pretty much everything begins going wrong… or we begin to SEE how it’s been going wrong all along… Lucifer isn’t really back in the cage, Crowley’s been running schemes behind the scenes, the MoL have much larger plans for America that don’t really seem at all related to just putting an end to the Winchesters’ messing with the natural order.
But all of that first-half-of-the-season success– even Cas learning the truth about Ishim and Lily Sunder, even taking out Ramiel, begins to nosedive after the Colt is smuggled out under their noses. We start seeing the lies and machinations that have been working beneath the surface of the entire season.
The lies aren’t all on Mary, nor on Crowley. Some of them are on Sam and Dean (for not giving Mary the full story earlier in the season, for not demanding the full truth from her, for not telling EACH OTHER the full truth). Some of them are on Cas (not telling them in advance that he was going to Heaven to seek assistance in tracking down Kelly and Dagon, not wanting their help in order to keep them safe while he cleaned up what he believes is his mess… going all the way back to saying yes to Lucifer in 11.10– guilt makes us do stupid things).
But they’d all been on essentially the same page until after the Colt came back. Things started going to heck at lot faster after that point. The ripples spread wider, the BMoL that originally sent two people to run their US Operation were suddenly sending dozens. The chaos factor has been doubling week after week.
And really, you can trace almost ALL of it back to Mary’s reappearance.
Cas going off to hunt for Lucifer alone in 12.03… and insisting that Sam and Dean stay behind to have their family time with Mary… Cas believing that Mary belonged there with them because she was their family, and that he might NOT belong there with them… If Mary hadn’t been there, Cas would’ve been working with Sam and Dean since the jump.
Even in 12.02, Mary proved to be a distraction that got Dean captured by the MoL. Because if he hadn’t left Cas behind to make sure Mary stayed safe, he wouldn’t have been approaching their safe house alone. Cas would’ve spotted the ward, Dean would’ve dismantled them, and they both would’ve been in that basement together to rescue Sam. They wouldn’t have been forced to call a truce and negotiate with the MoL. Her mere presence had already knocked over that first domino.
And all season it’s forced Sam and Dean both to really “grow up” in a lot of ways, and look far more objectively at who they are and what’s made them into the people they are now. And seeing just how much of that was based on reality, and how much was based on the story that became the story.
But there has to reach a point where those cosmic consequences reach beyond their ability to contain them, and I think that’s what began happening in 12.14. They were given a glimpse of the extent of the MoL operation here, and they chose to try and work WITHIN that system. Sam “fixed” the Colt, and that seems to be the moment everything truly started going to heckeroo and they weren’t quite as able to keep a hold on the consequences. Dean was forced to kill an “innocent” vampire to prevent Ketch from torturing her to death for funsies. Sam was forced to kill the Alpha Vampire with the Colt, because he refused to negotiate.
12.15 gives us a rogue hellhound that answers to no one but Lucifer. An invisible monster that’s nearly impossible to control or kill… (and Cas making the awful choice to go back to Heaven)
12.16 has Claire bitten by a werewolf, but saved at the very last second, nearly dying, but still miraculously walking away from the ordeal.
12.17 has Dagon in a position to potentially kill all of them, and the Colt proving rather useless… and Eileen accidentally shooting Top Of His Class because Dagon SET IT UP THAT WAY. She stood between them, looked directly at Eileen, and knew that bullet would hit the mark.
12.18 has Dean entirely overconfident at having the Colt back, and it nearly gets him eaten by Moloch. Sam arrived at the very last minute after Dean was already down. It didn’t really feel like much of a victory. It was such a close call it inspired them to get all morbid about their legacy…
12.19 has Cas returning, a bunch of miscommunication and almost full communication, and feelings, and pain, and trading up on the curse of the Colt for whatever the nephilim has done to Cas… Like this was the point the cosmic consequences started to bounce back directly at them and ripple outward again in double-time.
They’d had an opportunity to “fix their mess” back in 12.09, but their fate was sealed long before that. The moment Mary arrived to shake things the way she did with her mere presence.
What was this even about again? *scrolls up… and up and up* Eileen.
And now Mary’s having her will erased by the Men of Letters, who intend to enforce their own will on not just her, but on the balance of nature itself. Their intent is to bring peace to the world, but it’s not a REAL peace. It’s their IDEA of peace. And it most certainly is not freedom, nor is it balanced. It’s horrifying and self-serving… and we have that theme illustrated through the twig dolls in 12.20, the way the witch had used her power without care for anyone else, because she liked things a certain way and the twig people were merely intelligent automatons she could bend to her will to serve her own needs. Max may have used that power to “resurrect” Alicia, but he now has the moral dilemma of what that sort of power over someone might actually MEAN for him. We see the very negative use of a very similar power the MoL have over Mary, and the up-for-debate version of a very similar power the nephilim seems to have over Cas right now.
We’ve seen Sam and Dean try to work within the system that had slowly been (invisibly to them) stripping any power they’d had to make things right– infiltrating the bunker, monitoring their activity, manipulating where and when they went on hunts, WHAT they were even sent after to kill. They didn’t even notice they were already surrendering bits and pieces of their will (metaphorically), or at the very least their autonomy, to the MoL all along… And they didn’t realize the extent of the MoL’s operations, or just how deep Mary was involved with them, until they’d spread too far to contain alone.
Now we have Ketch locking them up in the relic of what the MoL used to be– when they were truly preceptors and archivists set to study and learn about the supernatural, and not attempting to create a new world order with that knowledge– essentially disposing of them and that legacy in one fell swoop.
*scrolls up again*
Yeah, Eileen’s family legacy as an old-school MoL was a part of that reckoning, and her death as the only other legacy who was untainted by the modern BMoL and their agenda, the only other legacy who was ready to stand up to what that legacy had been twisted into by the likes of Dr. Hess and the “old men” back in Britain… it’s just a horrifying waste. I feel like she deserved to be there to celebrate her personal legacy being put right, as well.
I think I made at least one point in here somewhere…
This kid was a perfect angel for her training ride this evening! We mostly worked on fine-tuning her steering at the walk, and finished with a few trot circles. At least, circles was the idea. We ended up making more like… vaguely round wobbly shapes. Ah well. It was more the consistency of the gait that we were working on :P
Note: Took me a bit to figure out how all this was going to go down. Had to give Keith a kick in the rear, so he didn’t get too comfortable. The guy in this chapter is kinda the Ranch’s medic. He’s not a specialist with formal training of any sort, but for most things that could go wrong with a centaur’s health, he knows what to do.
““Kneel,” The order doesn’t have the malice or irritation to it that he’s come to expect from the ranch hands. If anything the human sounds a bit like he’s going down a mental checklist. The lack of open hostility is a relief. After his run in with the evil eyed human, the hands had run him hard. Past exhaustion to just wanting to lay down in the middle of the training yard and die. Their daily ‘exercise’ always left him tired, but there had been spite behind the number they’d made him run today. They’d wanted to show him off as their tame mindless centaur. His attempts to escape the evil human’s grasp had upset them greatly.
Keith carefully does as he was asked. Getting to his knees and hocks laying his underbelly against the ground, “John, support his arms.” The disinterested human orders, and the ranch hand who’s been leading him around all day jumps to obey. The one ordering is different from the normal ranch hands. He’s stood out from the second Keith spotted him waiting by his stall. Not because of size, physical appearance, or even the cloths he wears. All were only minutely different from the other humans, but something about his presence projects calm and importance. An aura that says this is someone that should be paid attention too, “You,” The human makes sure he catches Keith’s eyes before continuing, “Don’t try to move on your own, once I cut the ropes. You’ll only hurt yourself.”
The human stays within Keith’s line of sight, as he slowly pulls out a knife. Keith can’t help the way all his muscles tense at once. Rationally, killing him just as he starts to do what they want makes no sense, but the blade is sharp and he can imagine how easily it could slice his flesh, while he’s unable to do anything to stop it from his current position, “Easy now,” The calm human soothes, “It’s just for the ropes,” Carefully, slowly, making sure Keith can watch the whole time, he moves the knife back to Keith’s arms, “Remember don’t try to move once they’re off.”
The human is as gentle as one can be when sawing so close to somebody’s skin, the ranch hand holds his arms up as the support of the rope falls away, and Keith grits his teeth against the sting in his skin from their removal. Soon enough, the only thing holding his arms behind his back is the ranch hand. He can’t quite see the way the calm human runs fingers along his abused forearms, but he can feel every disturbed rope burn and bruise as the human comes across them, “You like to pull don’t you,” The human says softly. It takes Keith a moment to realize he’s the one being addressed and a response is expected. No one here but Shiro goes through this much effort to address him kindly.
“They’re the ones who tied me to a post,” Keith says in his defense. The human shakes his head with a sigh. Keith doesn’t like how childish and petulant that response makes him feel. Like he’s a colt shouting ‘they started it’ at a rival.
“Your arms are a mess of bruises, but you’ve been very lucky and avoided any major bloody spots,” The human pets his lower back. It reminds him of Shiro trying to keep him calm, “In the future, please be careful. Pulling on your lead, like you have been, could very easily lead to open wounds and infection. If no one catches it in time, you could get very sick and possibly even die.” The man chastises, but gently, like he’s actually worried about Keith’s well being. Shame creeps up on him. He has a tendency to act without thinking. Most of the time he gets by on quick thinking, but sometimes, like now, he just hurts himself for no payoff.
“Alright,” The human pats his back, “Lets get these arms stretched out. I’m sorry, but this will hurt. If it gets to be too much, tell me and we’ll stop while you catch your breath. Ready?” The human puts his hands on Keith’s bicep and forearm, but waits for Keith’s nod to begin.
The flood of pain as his elbow is unbent steals his breath away. He thought having his arms bound and pulled on for days on end was the height of pain. He was so wrong. His eyes water, as the human carefully straightens his arm and checks to make sure everything still has full range of motion. Each joint and muscle yelling their protest at the now unfamiliar movements. When the human finally lets go, Keith’s gasping for air like he’s just ran a race, “There you go, you’re alright.” The human is rubbing his back while Keith catches his breath, “We’re halfway done. You ready for the next one?” No, but it’s better to get these things over with. Keith grits his teeth and nods again. It’s just as bad as the first time.
Even after his arms are fully stretched out and hanging limply by his side, the human doesn’t leave immediately. He sends the ranch hand off for a bucket of clean water, and then carefully washes the raw skin on Keith’s arms. Getting rid of the dirt and grime so he can examine them again for anything that might need more attention. Only once he’s certain that Keith is going to be okay, does he get up to leave.
He finds himself speaking without meaning to as the man closes the gate, “Thank you,” He’s been the kindest human and the most interested in Keith’s welfare since he came to this forsaken place.
“You’re welcome,” The human smiles at him, “I’ll check on you again soon, to make sure everything keeps being alright. Just remember what I told you about pulling,” The human waves as he leaves, and for a few minutes he finds himself looking forward to seeing him again in the future.
The man had been nice. He could have just cut Keith free and left him be to deal with the pain on his own. The extra presence had helped, made things much less miserable than they would have been otherwise. He was grateful for that…grateful…grateful for a scrap of kindness shown in this hellish place…grateful one of the humans working at the ranch had spent a few minutes worried about his comfort…grateful…Keith stares at the black bruises interspersed with the red rope scratches mottling his arms. He needs to get out of here. He needs to get out of here now.
He’s becoming like Shiro. Starting to see light spots in his captivity. Beginning to even like some of his captors. Forgetting everything else they’ve done today because one person treats him with the mildest standard of kindness. If he stays here much longer, they are going to own him. He can’t wait anymore. Next time he sees Shiro, they have to escape.
Honey spent the last few weeks with a professional trainer getting a jump-start on her foundation training. She was the most nervous horse I had ever handled, and I wanted to make sure she was started out right!
Now it’s her third day home, and after giving her some time to settle in with ground work, today it was time for her first ride since returning! Short and sweet, just easing her in and keeping her calm.
Imagine attending an event with your husband Bruce and you run into an ex of yours and he still has feelings for you and Bruce gets all protective.
Gifs: Found on Google.
You enjoyed going to events with Bruce, even though Bruce and you were married women would still hang off of him like he was still single. Then you would come and place a light kiss on his cheek and a death glare to the girls, as his hand rested on your waist. The girls with excuses themselves you smiling as Bruce would lean down and whisper.
“You know you didn’t have to do that.” You would smile at him and whisper back.
“But it’s just so much fun.” That and you knew deep down Bruce loved when you did that. The fact that you got protective over him made him fell completely loved.