Spotlight On Philosophy
It is always easy to put too much focus on criticizing bad techniques and practices, but we can make more of a difference by taking concrete positive action with the animals in our own lives.
What Is The Answer to Abuse?
After seeing a particularly harrowing article about horse abuse on Facebook, I started to think about what could possibly make someone behave in such a cruel way. The superficial motivations are obvious of course, it could be put down to money or ambition, even power seeking and ignorance, but those things are superficial desires. They may push some people over the line, but they are not causes in themselves, otherwise everyone would be capable of much more cruelty than actually exists.
I believe that the reason most of us don't behave abusively is that we are able to identify with another being, to put ourselves in their shoes. Some of us do that more than others, some of us are more sensitive to the needs of others, and make more effort to understand how they feel and what they need. It is a skill any of us can take time to address and improve, especially when we are concerned with another species, with requirements and desires which may be foreign to us. For example, how many of us can genuinely understand that horses would usually choose to go out and graze in the rain because they value their freedom and eating grass more than staying dry and comfortable, as people would?
An open mind and some imagination goes a long way, and the willingness not to superimpose our own natural perceptions. Maybe people who are capable of terrible cruelty cannot identify themselves with another being in this way. Maybe they don't feel the same emotions as most people do in relation to another being. When they see suffering they don't feel empathy or distress which resonates with the distress in the other being. Maybe they don't feel those emotions because they have suppressed them.
Why does anyone suppress emotions? Usually because they are too painful to cope with at the time. People who have been forced to suppress emotions to that degree, and defend themselves from the reality they have been exposed to, must have quite often been in traumatic situations. For this reason I think it is important to realise that we, who are fortunate enough to be able to feel, and be sensitive, affectionate and caring, are not changing anything if we judge those who have also suffered. Our pain when we see suffering makes us want to strike out, but this can only create yet more suffering.
Think of how you feel when you see a beautiful image of love, or hear a happy story about the rescue of horse or a dog. I know that it inspires me and makes me feel good. I want to go and share that feeling with others. When I see stories about abuse and suffering, on the other hand, I feel upset and depressed and I know that I don't share anything of value until I can get the images or the thoughts out of my head.
We can only heal cruelty and fear with love and trust. The more love and trust we can share in our lives the more good energetic vibrations we create.
I used to feel terrible distress and anger about intensive farming, particularly of pigs who are such a sensitive intelligent species.
After I rescued two pigs (photo, left) from such a farm, and gave them the best life it was possible to create for them (they have their own meadow and wood, a pig arc and a big shelter, a pool in the summer and abundant left over fruit and vegetables from the local grocer, as well as much love and affection from all their people, horse and dog friends) I began to realise that the only way to make a real difference is to do something positive and feel good about it. I truly believe that the good energy of their life will raise the quality of life for all pigs far more than being upset about what is done 'wrong'.
This is why at Happy Horse Training we want to share how good it feels to give our horses what really fulfills them and also enhances their lives.
We believe that if our horses are contended because they have their own friends with which they can freely associate whenever they are not with us, that they will be happier to be with us. We look after their health in a way that supports it and encourages it to be strong and intelligent in its own right, not reliant on artificial drugs. It gives us almost as much enjoyment as them to watch their relationships and their healing journeys unfold and to feel part of their world.
The Parallels with Training
We value our training with them not only because we enjoy riding and training horses, but also because we feel that because we have given our horses a colourful and fulfilling life, they are more willing to take things a step further, and make a new relationship with us which expands their minds beyond what it is to be a horse, as well as letting them feel a heightened physical power and coordination which liberates their bodies from their usual limits. This is why innate talent is not so important to us, we enjoy making the transformation in any horse.
It is a win-win relationship, and each facet of it fits in and strengthens the rest.
These before and after pictures of horses who were both traumatized prior to coming to us, show the transformation that is possible through correct gymnastic training combined with management and care that is sensitive to their individual needs.
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