“It is the mark of an educated mind to be able to entertain a thought without accepting it.” –Aristotle (384-322 BCE)
There are two ways this quote could be interpreted and imagine both were considered by this philosopher.
I don’t know about you, but I’m starting to cringe concerning the intensity and volume of flame throwing that’s going on in the horse industry. Sadly, most of the instigators encouraging the attacks call themselves professionals. In fact, they tend to call out people who don’t buy into their methods (literally – all are selling something) with rallying cries to view YouTube videos taped secretly in a way that fosters aghast responses to cruelty or stupidity and builds to public outcry. Yep, some of this stuff is a sad commentary on what others see as effective training approaches, but come on, “it was so painful, I couldn’t bear to finish watching” when a cowboy bumps a horse in the mouth few times as she continues to flex under the bit prior to a major competition? Wrong thinking on the cowboy’s part, yes, but who hasn’t done something dumb with a horse when human emotions rob us of our communications’ sensibilities? Is this really a case for the HSUS? Probably will be. Careful what you wish for.
Getting back to Aristotle, there’s a difference between blindly accepting what others present as gospel (no matter how much media attention they get) and being humble enough to recognize that there’s a benefit to entertaining what others are doing or suggesting so you can learn from them (even if it’s what not to do) and about you. It’s OK to dismiss something you have taken the time to understand, but who gains when there’s a knee-jerk reaction to dish without time spent in understanding? Personally, when I see professed equine professionals spending more time calling out others for their bad than developing their skills, reach and impact, I shake my head. These are people with low self-esteem and suffering businesses.
If you really want to learn how to reach and teach horses, spend more time watching and wondering with your particular steed and less energy becoming disgusted and shouting about what others are doing with their project(s). You’ll learn more from watching a herd interact for a day, or including your horse in the conversation as you decide on the activities du jour than you will from taking target practice at one who has achieved acclaim (no matter how cruel their methods may be).
Frankly, while I do take issue with what some are putting out there to encourage formula approaches with horses (they’re all different in how they respond, react and learn), there’s something to be learned from the fame they’ve gained. Why not entertain how you might be able to help create a better future world for horse and human partnerships by studying their talent in reaching the masses? Seems like a better use of time and effort than chasing them with insults, accusations and a lynch mob.
What do you think? How can we better reach the uninitiated with a more positive approach? Please share your ideas in the comments below.