Recently, I stumbled across the wit and humor of Daniel Dauphin. The Louisiana horseman comes across as an ‘aw shucks’ kind of guy, but it takes only a few minutes to learn that he’s a bright fella with a penchant for eschewing BS and enjoying myth- and misinformation-busting. Dressed in Wranglers and long-sleeved snap shirts, he likes to call himself the Dogma Killer as he dispels the many traditional practices that do not serve the horse. (“Some ideas you might have held dear just need to die…You’ve got to put your Big Boy pants on and do what’s right for the horse.”) My kind of person.
Daniel is transparent about his life lessons and horsemanship journey, which includes on-the-job learning for improving his work with horses as well as with humans.
I am watching his marathon production of More Than a Bit…O’ Information, available as a digital download or as a multi-DVD package.
For those wondering how anyone could possibly talk entertainingly about bits for five hours and 20 minutes, rest assured there is wwaayy more to be discovered. Dauphin’s production encompasses conversations, explanations, diagrams, and hilarious demonstrations of the myriad aspects of the conversations we have with horses through the bit.
The project was years in the making and developed with frequent consultations with veterinarians and equine dentists. Invested in thoroughly educating his viewers, Dauphin approaches bits from afar, by first discussing the eyes, the teeth, the tongue, the palette. You’ll learn about horses’ breathing and spinal cord. You’ll consider tail swishing, mouth foaming (yikes!), pinned ears, and excessive clacking as easy signs of bit distress.
You’ll learn that the lips, chin, poll, nose, palette, and bars of the horse’s mouth are all important communicative features in play when the horse connects with the rider through the bit.
Most importantly and much to my satisfaction, Dauphin stresses that no bit will solve the problem of a rider’s poor methodology. If you don’t know how to work a puppet or juggle tennis balls, switching puppets or changing to juggling bowling pins is not going to alter the outcome. Better hands lead to happier horses, regardless of what bit you use.
The video production was filmed at a Boy Scout facility. Illustrations are created with paper and pen. Displays are hand-held and sometimes featured on a wrinkled brown cloth, with a wooden dowel as a pointer. There are no fancy graphics or PowerPoints in sight.
Call it low budget if you will. I’ll call it entertaining education, complete with rosey cheeks, teeth brushing, and egg whites.