This is so new.

This is so new for me... Please join the discussion. I would love to hear your thoughts.

Saturday, March 13, 2010

Linda Parelli uses pain in training a horse, and she doesn't know it.

I don't know Parelli training. I do know Linda Parelli inflicts pain on this horse. She slaps the horse's legs, hindquarters, and face, with a line. Never does she have the attention of the horse in a way that "reaches" him. Never does he experience and react as if he understands proper positive instant consequences and negative instant consequences. Never does he learn to trust her more. She tells the owner to watch out and move away because she might get hit by the line Linda is using to hit the horse. Linda understands the owner would get hurt. How does she evade applying the same logic to the horse?

Apparently this video was not posted legally, but Linda Parelli has posted a response to it on her blog, so perhaps she will allow it to remain on the web. As of this writing, there are 211 comments on her blog. I recommend reading all of them.

Linda Parelli's Blog

From Linda's response, "We had to get through to him..." "I had to increase the intensity until it matched the intensity of his fear, which was dangerously high." She reports the horse showed great improvement through the training course. The owner comments on the blog that she thought the training was positive.

How can Linda Parelli not see she inflicted pain?

Many traditional training methods use the equation that if a technique produces a compliant and improved horse, the technique was justified. Many champion horses were subjected to pain in their training histories.

Why is it so hard to recognize that inflicting pain on a horse is not okay? That the ends do not justify the means?

When I saw Monty Roberts working with horses publicly at the Cow Palace in San Francisco, in the 1990s, he did not use pain. The contrast between how he worked and how I had been taught myself and seen other traditional trainers work, was an intense shock to my system. I had been wearing blinders and they came off. I had a kind of psychological collapse; I was shaking and in shock. Painful awakenings do that to a person.

Monty talks in his books about a typical audience member he often meets at his demonstrations. Women come up to him afterward and explain, with trembling voice and fear, that they had experienced abuse in their relationships. They feel compelled to tell him this because they recognize him for standing strong on the principle that no one has the right to hurt anybody or any animal, for any reason.

I was never abused in an my adult relationships but I was abused as a child. Even with many years of personal work, another layer of the onion peeled off when I watched Monty. My sense is that how one comes to open to seeing the truth, is a tender and vulnerable process for each person individually.

In the meantime, please let's talk about how how to recognize what is happening when one inflicts pain on a horse. What is happening for the horse, and the human.

Thursday, March 11, 2010

I think about rats like I think about horses

Pet rats don't forgive as easily as horses, I think. If you punish with pain, a rat recoils and distrusts. She will likely look at you with fear in her eyes, not want to be near you, and show signs of overt trauma. Some horses with a certain disposition may react similarly, but many may not "show" they are learning to distrust. They may appear to not resent a whip, but be affected nonetheless.

In learning to relate to horses without the use of pain, might we be able to draw on how we relate to pet rats without pain?

What is the language of rats? Why even talk about a language? There is behavioral modification training, right? Positive or negative reinforcement, the same principles apply to all animals, more or less? Yet, what particular signals humans use for horses - those positive and negative - if they correspond with the same signals horses use with each other, may result in a conversation, in language. And if there is language, which in the case of horses means body language, there is the hope of communication between two different species. This can happen if both draw on the same set of symbols, gestures, or "words."

All that I just said about language, in this case with horses, is from Monty Roberts, He describes the body language of gestures with horses. Horse to horse. And the potential of horse to human, and then, by extension, human to horse. Join-Up is the communication process he describes. The language is the language of Equus.

As far as I know - and, please please write me if you know differently - we don't have the equivalent for rats. Rats utter almost continuous squeaks at an ultrasonic range outside that of human hearing. And they touch each other as well, with forms of controlling movement (pushing, shoving, holding down), forms of grooming and wrestling. And they "feel" with their whiskers, teeth, and hands. In my limited grasp of all this, I believe our human understanding of the meaning of the various squeaks is primitive.,, has the best description in detail that I know of, of all rat biology/sociology, some ethology. It's important reading if you want to discuss these subjects.

With all the advances in our understanding of the language of horses, what is the language of rats?

I'm feeling a bit shy with all this putting up something public, so I'm going to stop and mull it all over. And snuggle with some rats.