Wednesday, December 28, 2016

To Everyone Who Has Looked at an Animal

As I think of today's topic my blood begins to boil and my hands begin to shake. Some people believe that because they've trained one young colt, that it makes them an expert in training all horses. What's worse is that they have convinced others to believing in their delusion.

Sure you've trained one young horse, and I emphasize young because of the very impressionable and malleable brain that all young animals have, which makes them easier to train with aversive methods. And you then parade yourself around like you're the expert with all horses. With an old school University that acts as your authority figure it's easy to see why you think you've been taught the "right" methods of training. What they forget to tell you is that the training they teach comes with long term psychological side-effects. And it's not just that, some trainers are so paranoid that their "training secrets" will be revealed that they're not even going to share the knowledge that they've gained. Which is quite okay because their knowledge is outdated anyway and I'm not interested in promoting it.

What really pains me is that this kind of mentally damaging training still exists in the world. The only thing that is stopping these individuals from actually promoting humane methods that do not create learned helplessness, depression, anxiety, fear, and self-harming behaviors in their animals is their own, personal limitation to understanding the scientific articles in their spare time instead of watching Netflix and cruising Facebook.

And while these may be the flaws of these individuals, I of course have my own flaws. I am so passionate and careful with the knowledge that I choose to freely give out to others, I often fail to speak up against individuals who cannot be bothered to take the time to self educate themselves in fear that I will be using punishing methods on the "bad" trainers. Who am I to talk the talk but not walk the walk? Being a strong advocate of humane and ethical behavior modification plans I also practice what I preach in my own, personal behaviors. It is always a continuing journey for me. I can tell you how nervous the idea of  socializing in a room at a party used to make me feel, now I thoroughly enjoy making new friends and seek it out as opposing to shying away from it. This of course has taken years of work on my own and maybe I would have gotten there faster with a mentor. Regardless, it is a feat that I can proudly claim as my own.

I've come to the conclusion that there is no way to convert people by telling them how wrong, and abusive their animal training is. Because abusive training works, and when it works why change it if it ain't broke?  What they don't know is that their system is broken. There's no other reason to call it breaking a horse. Abusive training works a lot slower for most animals, and it causes way too much distress and no one who has animals willingly wants to cause the animals distress, so their psyche pulls up its shield and pretends what they're doing does more good than harm. I think the route I should take is not to attack those who teach with abuse, but to show them the other very, very awesome way to quickly and humanely train animals.

Copyright 2016 Caitlin Bird
The Sequential Psittacine Blog

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