New Years Greetings!
I always like to prepare a New Year’s gift for everyone, a thank you for all the support people have shown for clicker training. This year’s gift comes in the form of a new blog post.
As we count down the days towards the Presidential Inauguration, this seems like an appropriate article to post. There were so many times when I was puzzled and even deeply disturbed by the 2016 election campaign. To help decipher the puzzle that is American politics, I’ve been reading some of George Lakoff’s books. What really hooked me were the very obvious parallels with horse training. This post is a result of my reading.
I thought about breaking this article up into a series of shorter posts so it wouldn’t monopolize your reading time, but it is better read in larger chunks. So make yourself a cup of tea and enjoy.
Alexandra Kurland – January 2017
I can still hear the filly screaming. She was only three months old, and she was being weaned. Her mother had been abruptly taken away earlier in the day. She was left on her own for the first time in her life, trapped in a dark stall. She was rearing and spinning, screaming for her mother. The older gelding in the stall next to her was aware of her distress and in the quiet way of horses provided her with comfort. She had latched onto him for security. As long as she could hear him next door, she was okay, but now that he had been taken out to be ridden, she was screaming her distress.
The barn owner wasn’t having it. He moved the gelding to another part of the barn and put a different horse next to her.
I was watching this drama play out from the other end of the barn where my own horse was stabled. The filly’s anguish wrenched at my heart. I wanted to help her, but she wasn’t mine to comfort. I couldn’t do anything but listen to her scream.
The barn owner didn’t share my concern. He explained he was doing this for her own good. She was destined for the race track. She needed to learn how to be on her own. Her life would be a lot better if she learned early on not to attach herself to other horses.
After the third move, and the third loss of her equine comforter, the filly did settle. She stopped forming attachments with the horses that were nearby. She stopped screaming for them whenever they were taken away.
Over the years I’ve seen the terrible stress some adult horses go through when they are separated from their friends. I think of that filly when I see their anxiety. Through his actions the barn owner may well have been saving her from a lifetime of stress, but every time I think of her I still want to give her the comfort she was so desperately crying out for.
If I told this story to the cognitive linguist, George Lakoff, he would immediately know who I voted for in the 2016 presidential election. – I’m guessing that’s not where you thought this story was heading.
To save myself some time I have uploaded the full article as a pdf file. Click on the link below to continue reading.
Reblogged this on Train Positive Dog! and commented:
Great insights here by Alexandra Kurland – how training philosophies mirror political philosophies which in turn reflect our worldviews.
I am thoroughly enjoying this post – and as you said – it’s quite interesting and does help me understand why some people I consider friends and intelligent come up with “totally wrong thinking and ideas”. Even some family members are so “lost in their thinking”. LOL.
Hopefully, it isn’t me who needs to reevaluate the basis for my thinking/reasoning.
Would you mind if I posted this on Facebook? I can think of a number of my friends who are not horse people but would thoroughly enjoy it and “chew it over for a while.”
Hope you are having a great New Year so far – well except I doubt you will enjoy the inauguration any more than I will.
Great comments. What Lakoff’s work highlights so well is there aren’t really rights and wrongs – such a huge relief really. I wrote this post to share, so do please pass the links on via facebook.
Thank you for this great post, I couldn’t stop reading. Really interesting thoughts and concepts, I have to read those books… Tine
Thanks, Tine. His work provides such an interesting perspective.
Great insightful article Alexandra, thoroughly enjoyed reading it. I work a lot within the framework of people’s belief systems. Underpinning our early childhood experiences and learned actions, at the core I believe we are wired for empathy, compassion, and goodwill.
Oh my goodness Alex, this is WONDERFUL! Thanks for your unswerving generosity in sharing your insights, knowledge, experience and wisdom!
Thank you! These comments are making my day complete.
This really is wonderful Alex! I’ve read it once – and need to read again! A real masterpiece – thankyou!
Thank you, Heather. Lakoff’s work explains so much.
Wonderful new year gift! Thank you so much Alexandra.
Best wishes for 2017.
Many thanks, this was really great!
Sent from my iPad
Very interesting – read it all the way through – the framing and reframing are more up my alley (can’t help but speak in metaphors) than the Undoing Principle – He uses mathematics to prove/disprove psychological theories – I have not yet read either this book or Lakeoff’s book in their entirety. – Wayne is actively reading both and comes running into wherever I am with specific sections for me to read. He is thoroughly enjoying Lakeoff’s book. And now our daughter ( who is studying psychology) wants to read your post – and maybe she will read Lakeoff as well after she reads your post.
Interesting reading in all three – I have forwarded your post to a couple horse people/progressive type thinkers (at least in most arenas) and a non-horse person (fellow writer and retired English teacher – also progressive/nurturing parent type person). Will see what they have to say.
Thanks for this very provocative post – addresses lots of issues – I was telling Wayne about how many people attacked me when I first started clicker training – and this was in my own barn with no boarders, etc. Of course, I was doing it solely from your books and didn’t know about your seminars, etc. So I made a ton of mistakes – cannot deny that, and I continue to make mistakes in my training. But my horses still love it and me and we are all having fun and learning as we go.
Thanks, again. I look forward to the webinar.
Love your postings! It is so amazing how they not only fit my training needs, but my interactions with the people in my life. Been struggling with how to talk with a young man about the difference between living according to your morals and trying to require everyone to live according to your moral. I may wait a little longer to have the discussion so I can think about the framing. Thanks again. Am I messed up if I have always seen a white vase framing black faces?
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I just found your blog! Wow this really resonated with me and it was just what I needed to read right now. I am a recovering strict parent. I lived my life in the strict father mindset (horse training, politics, life). I picked up clicker training in 2007 but have been mostly self-taught and isolated. I have always struggled with switching back and forth — it felt like 2 channels for me, sometimes clicker training made so much sense and sometimes it felt like I was just getting static and I started to question if it was right for me. Now, I know I was struggling with which frame I was in. Definitely guilty of using clicker training methods while living in the Strict Father mindset. Whoops. Now I at least I know what is wrong with that. I also think now that I am aware of it, I can hopefully notice when I am switching frames. That is a start at least. Thank you.
What a fabulous comment. Thank you for sharing!
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