I’m a fan of observing interactions. Watching the dance of cause and effect. A few years back I became aware of something profound, that changed how I interact with animals and people. I realized that when it comes to horse training, that mystical relationship I longed for in The Black Stallion by Walter Farley really could happen. And then I realized, that same relationship can exist with my other animals and with the people in my life. Mutual respect, the right to say “no”, learning each other’s language, explaining more clearly instead of shouting louder – all of these part of a balanced give-and-take partnership. I also noticed that many of the very popular training methods in both the dog and the horse world were not actually mutually respectful. When I watched the actual body language and watched the results, it became very clear that while the words used were kind and respectful, the actions most certainly were not. And the animals were unhappy.
One species at a time, I sought out or the universe pointed out trainers and teachers with similar thoughts. I found that the basic principles applied across the species, and changed how I worked with people too. If you visit the Reading List page of my website, you will find collections of my favorite books on each subject.
Most recently, I stumbled upon an amazing blog about working with livestock guardian dogs, which tosses many of the notions of hands-off dog management right out the window and focuses on building a working partnership. If you have livestock dogs in your life, I urge you to check this blog out. For those of you not familiar with livestock guard dogs, these dogs have been bred for centuries to be independent contractors, working with their humans, not for them, and taking initiative rather than blindly following orders. These are highly intelligent, highly empathetic, and very independent animals. I live with one now, one have several blog posts about my learning journey with Alruna.
I’m fascinated to figure out how this approach will work for my goats. A very good friend is already doing this, and what her goats will do for her is frankly amazing. I look forward to the process!
Meanwhile, when it comes to horses, there are many masters of the conscious process. Kim Walnes, Farah DeJohnette, Linda Tellington-Jones and Robyn Hood, and so many more – so many more more. Google the term Conscious Horsemanship, or even better, join the Horse Conscious group. Check out my Reading List for some of my favorite books also.
This recent blog post from Carolyn Resnick really nailed the topic: “The kick and pull lessons given to children or adults is not how to start them out on a horse. Usually beginners are put on a horse with no preparation. The reason you don’t want to start like this is that it causes the beginner to feel that it is the job of the horse to please them.
Basically we are creating a thoughtless culture where just our own needs are being met. Approaching riding lessons in this manner makes slaves out of the horses and people who feel no allegiance to what the horse is feeling.” Read more….
Think. Observe. Trust your instincts. Allow the “no”. And enjoy the journey!
Copyright ©2016 Carrie Eastman.
These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration or American Veterinary Medical Association, and are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease. Always consult your veterinarian about any changes to your animal’s health program.