From the beginning of my life with animals I have seen parallels between their behavior and that of the people around me. I have seen them form friendships, show empathy, and grieve lost loved ones. I have also long been told by scientists, trainers, animal lovers, and behavior experts that those parallels don’t exist. Animals are not as cognitively advanced, don’t have emotions, have no concept of “love” or “friendship”, and certainly aren’t capable of “bad” behavior seen in humans – or so the common wisdom went. Fortunately for me, the animals, and mankind at large, science had a change of heart and is now proving that animals are as behaviorally and emotionally complex as we are. Or, put another way – we are not as complex and unique as we once believed!
For a change of pace, we set up an obstacle course this week. It was a combination of things you might see in Working Equitation and Western Trail classes. I worked Coffee on Sunday, interjecting the obstacles here and there. He took them all in stride, with the exception of a pile of logs. On his first attempt, he decided that the middle pole must be for stepping on, not over – so we had a momentary loss of equilibrium.
On the second day, mom and Coffee were on their own. They managed the obstacles, with the only hesitation being that same pile of logs. Apparently his first boggled attempt was enough to make him hesitate to try again – but mom persisted and was triumphant. Overall, the ride went well.
Then there was the third day …
While I finish up some posts of my own, I thought that I would share this piece. Someone posted this on Facebook, and it was not familiar to me but definitely resonated. I attempted to Google it, but only was able to find one reference that seemed to be it … on an expired website. So, I will take the poster’s word that the author is unknown. Enjoy! Continue reading
Just over a year ago I was pining for a horse to ride. The result of my subsequent search was the entry of Roxie into our family. This was, unfortunately, followed immediately by the longest and wettest rainy season in more than twenty years. So, it was not until late this spring that I discovered a small problem – I did not have a saddle that would fit her!
I am not an alarmist, though some might think so after reading this post. Those who know me personally will vouch for the fact that I rarely raise the alarm. But I am seeing a trend that alarms me. It is nothing new – I saw signs of it when I was in college, oh so many decades ago. But the advent of social media, and a growing trend toward seeing total shutdown as an answer to things we don’t like, makes me nervous about the potential this movement has. People are beginning to take notice of the real problems in the horse industry, and for many of them the only answer is the complete end to having horses in our lives.
You stroll out for the evening chores. The last streaks of fuchsia still decorate the sky, and the cool Delta breeze brushes past your face. You smile as you glance toward the peaceful chicken coop, surveying the surrounding greenery and … a pretty paint mare gazing peacefully toward you, while she calmly munches her ill gotten gain.
One of my earliest memories of going to the movies was waiting in line to see Dr. Dolittle (1967). I remember feeling excited to see the film, clutching a little Dr. Dolittle wallet to put my ticket stub in. Even as a small child, I was captivated by the idea of being able to talk to animals. The film became a favorite that I revisited throughout my childhood. However, as I look around at the world today, and engage in conversations about horse and dog training, I realize the signature song got it wrong. We should not strive to “talk to” the animals – we should be striving to listen to them!