Although he looked like the "cowboy next door", Tom's been profiled in People magazine and has been called the "patron saint of horses" by the New York Times. Horse owners from around the world have looked to Tom for his kinder, gentler, much-proven technique of training horses.
Tom has been referred to as the 'horse's lawyer". He gives the horse credit for his knowledge of a horse's feelings and problems.
He says, "What I know about the horse, I learned from the horse."
Born in 1910, he grew up in the northeast corner of Oregon, fifty miles from the nearest town. For over fifty years, farming and ranch work filled his life: “I never did consider myself a horse trainer and I still don’t. I just grew up with cattle and horses. I spent a lot of time alone with them and when I was alone, that was when I learned a lot of things. If I made a mistake, there wasn’t somebody to clean up after me. It was important that I get the job done.”
This maxim is the same that has spilled over into Toms’ work with other people. On the surface it would appear that he has no interest in promoting his views or ideas to future generations of horse people. However, I believe that is too simplistic a view. We are such a goal-oriented society that it is sometimes hard to see the wood for the trees. When Tom says:” I’m just living.If anybody gets any good out of it, that’s great. I don’t want to force it on others. I don’t work with a horse that way and I don’t work with people that way.” This quote alone speaks volumes about the manner in which Tom Dorrance approaches life. (excerpt from A Tribute to Tom Dorrance by John Saint Ryan)
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The This book is a collection of essays and stories, which not only reflect the admiration and respect for Tom Dorrance, but also give clues and direction to the many people who really want to develop their horsemanship skills.
You will find knowledgeable horse people from many disciplines and a wide variety of experience sharing their ‘aha’ moments. Talking about how, despite many a struggle, with Toms’ guidance and with their own practice and determination, they could make incredible breakthroughs in understanding and communication with the horse.
Tom was very protective of his work, his way with horses. This was not from a selfish point of view. He wanted a person to get it right. He didn’t want the horse to suffer because of any misunderstanding and so he tried to help anyone he could and he would encourage you to observe and compare. If you were prepared to work at things he was always there for you.
We want to extend our gratitude to all the contributors to this book. This has been a labor of love and a personal dream for us to collate all these stories and anecdotes that go to show the real Tom Dorrance, More than a Horseman.
We truly believe that the contents of this book will help a person not only with their horses but also with their life.
- Margaret Dorrance and John Saint Ryan