Does The Horse Have A Choice?
People want a horse that is co-operative, that can be trusted and that is of a friendly nature. There are many ways that we try to achieve such a relationship. We usually try in the best way we know to work with our horse to obtain desired results. Sometimes what we think is best from our point of view is confusing or even terrifying to the horse because we are working outside of his understanding. The fact that he co-operates at all is a result of his versatility, though it may be only temporary until circumstances change.
The horse is locked into his instincts. Everything he does is regulated by inherited traits that can be dealt with in one of two ways - either with his understanding or without it. From our own experiences we know the difference in the feelings of understanding what we are doing, or being forced to do something we do not understand. Our level of co-operation, frustration, anxiety, resentment or even fear increases as our understanding decreases. We may be made to do things without understanding but when opportunity becomes available our co-operation will cease. Does not the horse view things in the same manner?
When people interact with the horse they do so with his understanding or without it. His survival depends upon unchangeable instincts. If he is confined, sick or injured so that he cannot physically exercise his instincts and escape, he becomes fearful and is possibly in imminent danger. His first concern must be survival. Every effort is made to survive and running from any threat is his first defense. If he cannot run or it is difficult to escape, his next action is to fight his enemy. Being the powerful creature that he is, most enemies will retreat.
Humans want the co-operation of the horse to do work. When we activate his fear instinct we become what he knows as an enemy. By confining him in a relatively small space, whether it is round, square or whatever shape, we activate his fear instinct. We then approach him with rope, whip or whatever and try to gentle or tame him. What does the horse see and feel? If we may express it in human language it could be, "I'm trapped, I cannot run to escape. Here comes a creature that looks like he could be a predator, he sounds like he could be a predator, he smells (stinks) like a meat-eater and he acts like a predator. I'm in great danger, what can I do?" The horse tries to get away by going to the furthermost point in the confinement. The could-be predator throws things at him, makes loud cracking noises or threatens him with who-knows-what physical harm. From the human side it is being done to make the horse a co-operative partner. Is there any understanding from the horse's point of view?
Why do humans approach a relationship with the horse in this way? Do we not know that he must operate within his instinctual capacity? Or do we not care'? To answer this question we must look to where he originated. If the horse evolved over 50 million years and if humans evolved over fewer millions of years, and we are the highest intelligence, then we can dominate the other creatures and whatever methods we use are acceptable - because they have no defender and there is no accountability. Therefore there is no responsibility to anyone but a society of humans, and, with them many things are acceptable because they are common practice, with competition and accumulation being prioritized goals. This success is often sought and sometimes achieved without regard of its cost to other creatures or nature. The animals do not accumulate money or possessions (they are content just to survive) and because of this lack of accountability, they become victims of peoples' desires.
Anyone who seriously studies or explores evolution as an origin of species on earth today, if they are honest, must admit that it is impossible that it could have happened that way. The lack of evidence (the missing links in the archaeological record), the chance that male and female of each species evolved at the same time and the same place, the dissimilarities of unique and complex operations of physical, biological and spiritual bodies (even some that look somewhat alike) and the impossibleness that random occurrences developed into what we now know as RNA and DNA (and other highly organized intelligence, known and unknown) should cause us to conclude that such a theory as evolution is not valid and should not be presented as having credibility.
That a highly intelligent being brought into existence the creatures on earth with humans made in His image should cause an entirely different perspective in the relationship of humans to the other creatures. People are given the ability to think and make choices. Their knowledge and resources are seemingly unlimited. They can be harmless or harmful, kind or cruel, loving or hateful and many other choices which are either good or evil.
The horse is made with instincts and cannot make choices apart from them. He can only operate within his realm of understanding. For humans to relate to the horse, or communicate with him, they must find a way to enter his realm of understanding. When people realize that they exist because of their Creator and that they must give an accounting of everything that they do, they should evaluate their treatment of one another and also of other created creatures. To use methods that activate the horse's instinctual nature and cause fear in him (evil to him) or other potentially damaging reactions is ignoring the way he is made and his Creator as well.
While it is possible to reach a degree of training so that the horse is useful to humans using unnatural methods such as comfort/ discomfort, restrictive devices, punishment or whatever the human mind can devise, the horse will not reach his full potential and the relationship will not be what it could be if the horse had been taught within the realm of his understanding.
Recently while visiting "Chuck" Mintzlaff and his horses at Dallas, Texas, I saw horses reacting with a human willingly and co-operatively. These horses have been taught to interact with abused children in what amounts to a ministering and healing relationship. These children feeling unwanted, unloved, unworthy and like thrown away garbage, through the affectionate and non judgmental acceptance of them by the horses, begin to gain confidence, self-worth and the delight that this large creature likes to be with them. Many of these children are encased in a shell that no human can penetrate but that seemingly melts away by the horse's gentle nature. Chuck, using a method developed over some years, has taught these horses. Miracles happen when children and the horses are brought together in a program designed to help the abused castaways. The teaching of horses using Foundation Training™ is available to everyone and is not beyond the capabilities of anyone. To see horses participating in interaction with a human by responding to a bridge language is truly amazing. Imagine teaching a 4 to 4 1/2-year-old child something that interests him and having him respond with focus and attention and a desire to please. Of course in any learning process there are mistakes and sometimes distractions but it is not normal to punish a child for these mistakes nor should it be for the horse, but rather to try to correct the matter and continue on to the desired behavior. This is no one-half-hour-and-you're-on-his-back technique. It is the gradual building of trust and confidence between human and horse to share a relationship, as do good horse buddies. The horse wears no watch and neither should humans.
Since there is no charge to the children or to the agencies bringing them there, the Texas Pony Express must rely on donations for its existence. The time, preparation and work of the program allow little time for Chuck to work away for an income. Due to the variability of donations, funds at times become extremely scarce even to the extent of the near lack of food for the horses and even less for Chuck. It sometimes is a day-to-day existence with little to spare.
Foundation Training can provide anyone with the knowledge to teach their own horse to do these things, and more, that I witnessed at Texas Pony Express. While learning this truly natural method and the associated benefits by signing up through the Internet, you will also help to keep The Texas Pony Express alive to help more abused, neglected or abandoned children as well as expanding this program in the Dallas/ Fort Worth area and perhaps to other desperately-in-need areas of the nation. It is estimated by agencies concerned with these matters that 78% of those in prisons (perhaps long termers) were abused during childhood. We spend billions to keep them in prisons, should we not spend more to prevent the need for their going there?
You can contact Chuck Mintzlaff at email: TexasPonyExpress@aol.com or by phone: 972-225-5800. Tell him you want to know more about Foundation Training. The cost of the program is about what it would cost to pay a trainer for one month to train your horse. The rewards of the program are an understanding relationship with a bridge language to share communication and human/ equine activities with a good horse buddy.
In conclusion, try to imagine that your horse is standing beside his Maker and your Maker, and he (the horse) is telling Him (The Creator can communicate with all of His creatures) how you've treated him while you were both on earth. What would he say about you? While it may seem now that such a scene has little reality, it may well be then very real, and this time has little reality. But the consequences of what you do now will last forever.
About the author:
Art Aungst, author of "Thumper the Curly Horse" and other works, is a freelance writer who has raised Curlies for about 10 years in central PA's East Waterford area. He has traveled the country and studied different training methods, many of which fell short of his expectations. In trying them he realized there was little that was 'natural' about them, and felt that he was usually forcing them in some way into unnatural cooperation. After becoming acquainted with Chuck Mintzlaff's Foundation Training, Art believes FT is the most effective and truly natural method he has seen so far. Art can be contacted at 717-734-3378.
1475 Alice St.
Hutchins, TX 75141