Thursday, 14 June 2012

Knowledge and Safety

A few days ago I was in my doctor’s office waiting for an appointment.  There was another gentleman there and we started a discussion.  The topic of horses came up.  He told me that he used draft horses in his farm operation.  He told me that he had two Percherons last year but that he had sold them after an accident.  Apparently the team had bolted and he had caught between one of the horses and a tree.  The result was a broken collar bone, three broken ribs and a broken arm.  Based on his description of the event I am surprised he survived at all.

As we talked about horses and his experience, it became apparent that he had learned about horses from passed down knowledge that relied almost entirely on the use of force and mechanics to get the horse to do what was wanted.  He had no understanding of the nature of horses, how to communicate with them and how to use that knowledge to modify behaviour.  The solution to a problem with a horse was to get rid of the horse and try the same techniques on another horse.  As the saying goes “If you always do what you`ve always done, you will always get what you always got.”

I told him about a problem with one of my horses and the methods I used to solve it.  His eyes glazed over and told me that would never work with any horse he had.  I have become used to this reaction and as a result I never offer advice unless it is clearly requested.

There is a very prevalent attitude that “We have always done it this way.”  There is almost an unwillingness to learn, even when a person`s life may hang in the balance.

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