COLLIDING MYTHS ABOUT HORSES

IMG_3044

It is so easy for humans to put our human ways of being onto horses. Seldom do we even notice it or notice it when others do it. If something sounds like a plausible explanation, we often just take it for the truth. Especially if it fills a gap in our story about horses. We humans don’t like gaps – the human mind always strives to fill the gaps. We do not like “not knowing”. And we like a nice and coherent “story”.

I love the space of not knowing – it is where exploration lives. Where imagination lives. Where experimenting and innovating lives. Where creativity lives…

I like when things are open. When humans are open to multiple ways of seeing and understanding.

Continue reading
  3409 Hits

REFLECTIONS ON EQUINE WELFARE AND HORSE-HUMAN CO-EXISTENCE

IMG_8615

…and on relationship building in general.

I hear, meet, speak to, more and more people who choose to fully remove themselves from almost any kind of interaction with horses (not so much other animals), and any kind of equine assisted interventions (EAI). Because they feel that the way we humans typically (and traditionally) are interacting, have been interacting – with horses, does not feel good to them, does not sit well with them.

I have struggled with this for years. To me it looks like plain avoidance. Instead of being, staying in a difficult relationship, that can be hard to navigate, but rewarding, many choose to give up, to remove themselves. And decides that humans are, in general “bad” for/to horses (and I often the reasoning is that unaware, highly emotional “clients” would be the worst humans for a horse to be around). But there are several different parts to this – from what I have seen and heard. Some of it has to do with convictions that us humans are not allowed to request anything from a horse. As they have not chosen to be here, with us. While I understand that argument, I also do not believe in one-sided relationships. In relationships, requests go both ways. As responses do.

Continue reading
  1003 Hits

WHAT DO I SEE?

IMG_6632

… or with which of my set of eyes am I looking?

Digesting more of the reading in the course I am taking at the Kerulos Center (https://kerulos.org). This article, by Gay Bradswhaw*, is about the different ways to see, the difference between information and message, the point that knowledge is relational, the difference between collective and subjective knowledge – introducing trans-species psychology and the obvious incongruence that bi-directional inference between human animals and other animals create.

Now I will focus on the seeing…

Continue reading
  3033 Hits

The Imitation Game – Part 2

IMG_5461

The Imitation Game is a Perception Game…

(And bear with me... this is about horses - and horse-human interaction, too.... I am stumbleing around about in this post - the text is not crystal clear - yet - I wanted to share it - something is forming in me, about the importance of embodiment, the shared nature of perception, how we form our beliefs as humans - how horses can help us see this - by being them.)

The imitation I talk about here has nothing to do with copying or imitating for its own sake. Imitation is an important way to, and of learning. You find imitation (of various kind; mimicking, mirroring, emulation, “true” imitation, teaching, schooling/herd/group behavior) in social learning, in language learning, in so called situated learning – as e.g. in apprenticeship models, etc. Imitation is also an important tool when to getting to know someone (as in the chameleon effect – which is about creating/ “achieving” liking each other – and in creating a common ground of understanding and communicating with each other – creating social contracts). Imitation is so much more than copying – and play a big role in all mammals’ development and growth into adults, but also in adult life. It is a corner stone of how we interact with each other, albeit often imitation is not conscious, it can be looked at, made conscious, and experimented with.

Continue reading
  3680 Hits

The Imitation Game...

The Imitation Game

During our EiT/L training in Kent a week ago – I was privileged to see something I knew existed – but never before so obviously have presented itself before my eyes – when I had a camera in my hand and was in an observing role. Now I had the opportunity to see the whole interaction play out and take photos of it. It felt like someone had given me a precious gift! I was watching a horse during those moments she understood a human was imitating her. It was fascinating to follow the exchange of communication between them. How the horse first wondered what was going on, then had the though (a hypo...

Continue reading
  2285 Hits

Learning as Welfare - Good EAP is Positive Equine Welfare

learning horses

Horses, as all other living beings, thrive when they learn. One of our basic mammalian emotional systems is the seeking system, which is strongly linked to our attraction to rewards. The seeking system is motivated by our attraction to novelty and elicit emotions such as anticipation, curiosity, and eagerness (and is balanced by the fear system) (Panksepp & Biven, 2012). Making it look like this: Or – it goes more in a spiral movement – it is a circular and forward movement at the same time. We have a "novelty center" (the substantia nigra/ventral tegmental area or SN/VTA) in the brainstem...

Continue reading
  1898 Hits

I am an EMHP – an Equine Mental Health Professional…

20190624-DSC_7867 Reciprocity - Mutual grooming

Or – how do we get to know the inner life of horses? How do we really get to know them? How do we know what they feel? Experience? When I work in teams in equine assisted activities and therapies – this is what I am. I am an EMHP – an Equine Mental Health Professional. It took me 7 years to figure that out… or at least I am testing it out… I "went" from being an equine specialist to an equine cognitive scientist/professional – to just being an equine professional – and considering calling myself an equine behavioral professional, but stuck with just equine professional, EP. I think I a might c...

Continue reading
  2054 Hits

Horses and Time

Horses-and-Time

How do horses perceive time? Do they have agendas? Are they always in the here and now? Cognitive scientists are now debating how good non-human animals are at planning – which imply they have an inbuilt sense of time, and are not always present in the now. That they understand the passing of time and can act out of this knowledge. That they can plan ahead. But also that they can mix up the now with the past.  In the horse world, I have many times heard the "truth" that horses have no agenda and always are in the here and now. Is this true? Or is that purely human projections? Do we want ...

Continue reading
  6448 Hits