Traditional care of horses draws heavily on awareness of their strong yet fragile natures. Horses respond well to exacting care, respect, and training designed to build mental and muscle power for consistent performance. Horsemanship comes from military and hunting practices that helped to keep everyone safe and sound. Riders who perform subtle nuanced movement with minimal interference have advanced through incremental and refined training. For the horseman it is a lifetime passion, sport and lifestyle.
Why are horsemen slow to change from traditional ways to modern ideas that make a positive change? A recent article brought new evidence to light that might explain it. For perspective, given that horse training manuals warn against short cuts because of problems that they cause, why are these often the very ideas that take root? Whereas when it comes to ideas of positive change, why are these adopted so slowly? Maybe it is because human nature beats a path to quicker profits or maybe it is a way to save face from a failure to succeed. However those seem like short sighted and superficial excuses, given that a horse can be made more magnificent instead of being broken down. Also it is an easy excuse, a dumbing down sort of thing, undeniable yet convenient. Is it that or is there more?
Why is making a solid change that improves everyone’s character including the horses, the owners, the grooms and others so warily considered? This conundrum first came to my attention in the mid-’80s, pointed out by a computer engineer-cum-horseman.
Selling software to Maryland thoroughbred breeders was how I financed my first year in a horse business I started from scratch. Often I sold the hardware too. It was the first ‘portable computer’ the old Mac 512K from Apple. The program organized myriad details of a successful horse racing operation, billing, pedigrees, stud fees, veterinary visits, mare boarding, foaling plus some ability for customization. It was coldly received by the horsemen as a radical new idea. He blamed lackluster sales on their inability to embrace a good, new idea. Truly a lot has changed in the last 20 years.
Yet today, with all the money thrown at horses medical care, they appear not to be any stronger, sounder, nor more vibrant nor vigorous than they were before. There is a difference in prevailing attitudes between Europeans and North Americans which may be due, in part, to real estate as much as the connection maintained and nurtured with horses. But nowhere are we getting a greater longevity or better environment for them. Generally speaking, why is it that making a positive change is a slippery proposition?
Turning to the news about global problems are reports on how these effect everyone by impacting livelihoods, pets, livestock, the environment and outdoor life which are important issues for horsemen. Is there any new idea afoot that might explain reluctance to adopt a positive change? Well yes, in a different field of study there is and I am open to considering it just might include a broader group of people too.
This was in a newsletter article from the Shift In Action, January 2010 issue on global warming. I think it applies to more than just that. Here is an excerpt.
“Also of interest is this fascinating article by science writer Jonah Lehrer (“Accept Defeat: The Neuroscience of Screwing Up”). It reports on a study by University of Toronto psychology professor Kevin Dunbar on what happens when scientists don’t get the results they expect. The answer may trouble you, and explain in part our conflicted feelings about global climate change. As Lehrer writes, “Over the past few decades, psychologists have dismantled the myth of objectivity.” It has to do with the fact that our brains actually inhibit our ability to take in new information that conflicts with our existing belief systems. For another perspective on the prevailing patterns of human consciousness, see To Believe or not to Believe: The Social and Neurological Consequences of Belief Systems by Rahasya Poe, whose interviews of numerous thought leaders and scientists address the many impacts of our psychological and emotional conditioning.”