Category Archives: Article Discussion

Know Your Capabilities

“You say ‘Oh he might spook, he might buck, he might fall down, he might rear.’ So look at what he’s working with!
He knows you can’t handle it and that don’t make him wrong to know that you can’t handle it.
He might do any of those things because something might scare him or he might slip and fall at any time and yet the people can’t handle that, but they want to go on with their horse.
If he turns around quick, they fall off!

So confidence, again, is knowing you are prepared for the unthinkable and I don’t know how you are going to get that without experience – that still don’t make you wrong.
You know where you’re at, you should know your capabilities. That’s no sin and no crime. You’re being honest with your fellow man. You’re being honest with your horse……you’re trying to keep him out of trouble.

You have to have guts and determination if you want to look for what I’m talking about. If you don’t, that don’t make you wrong.
What do you want to do or accomplish?
What are you capable of accomplishing?
It’s your concentration, your coordination and your reflexes in that order.
But the concentration isn’t near deep enough.”

- Ray Hunt

Excerpt from an article in the ‘Eclectic Horseman’ -

Image of Ray is from the November 1998 issue of the Western Horseman.

Image of Ray is from the November 1998 issue of the Western Horseman.

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Filed under Article Discussion, Behavioral musings, Handling Emotions, Horses, Human & Animal Interactions, Humans, Inspiration and Idols, Quotes

The Paradox

”I believe that going through traditionally taught methods (whether it be the riding instructor down the road or the college program) does not encourage riders to think out problems. Case in point – how many riders have come to me with their hands frozen to the saddle pommel! They fear moving them because they might ‘ruin the horse’s mouth’. But the paradox is that now they have gained the dead and unfeeling hands they wanted to avoid in the first place!”

- Bill Dorrance

From the book ‘True Horsemanship Through Feel’ by Bill Dorrance which is available through his website:


Image of Bill is by Mindy Bower

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Filed under Article Discussion, Horses, Human & Animal Interactions, Humans, Inspiration and Idols, Quotes

Oh shoot, it takes 10,000 hours??

You’ve most likely heard someone say that it takes 10,000 hours to truly become a master at something.

Of course there is truth to this – to master something, to me, means that you can do it without even thinking. In other words, you’ve practiced to the point that it just comes naturally to you. That’s what you had to do to learn how to walk! Practice, practice!

It can seem like a huge journey. I remember riding around one day and musing over this 10,000 hour rule. “Man, that’s a lot of hours!” Doing the math in my head of how many years I would have to ride to become a master made me so dizzy I almost fell off my horse!

But a saying from Pat Parelli always brought me back: “Practice doesn’t make perfect – only perfect practice makes perfect.” Of course, nothing is perfect. Especially in the beginning. I think what Pat means by that, is you won’t become a master in 10,000 hours if you are practicing wrong. It takes practice, focus, correctness and the ability to change for the better (even if you only have 200 hours to go to becoming a true master! It’s never too late to change!).

Then today I read this quote by Daniel Goleman from this article from BrainPickings:

“The “10,000-hour rule” — that this level of practice holds the secret to great success in any field — has become sacrosanct gospel, echoed on websites and recited as litany in high-performance workshops. The problem: it’s only half true. If you are a duffer at golf, say, and make the same mistakes every time you try a certain swing or putt, 10,000 hours of practicing that error will not improve your game. You’ll still be a duffer, albeit an older one.

No less an expert than Anders Ericsson, the Florida State University psychologist whose research on expertise spawned the 10,000-hour rule of thumb, told me, “You don’t get benefits from mechanical repetition, but by adjusting your execution over and over to get closer to your goal.”

“You have to tweak the system by pushing,” he adds, “allowing for more errors at first as you increase your limits.”

So it’s not necessarily the repetition of practice that helps us master something, but the repetition of changing and improving what we practice that helps us achieve our goal.

Okay, now I gotta hurry out of the house to practice!!

Unknown photographer I own no rights to this photo.

Photo by Caity Bird
I own no rights to this photo.


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Filed under Article Discussion, Behavioral musings, Humans, Inspiration and Idols, Quotes, Science

Rabbits or Smart phones?

When I was little, I had a lot of different animals. One of them was a rabbit (which turned into like 16 rabbits after my friend’s bunny visited…). It was something I had to care for: we had bunny-kid adventures, and it was awesome.

That’s not enough for kids right now – they need something fast. A game or a show or something that gives them that “good feeling”, that “reward”, very fast and with little work on their part. They’re not learning how to care for something at a young age. If they get a pet, it’s usually a cat or a dog. Something most kids have to work up to. So the parents end up taking care of the animal and the child doesn’t learn anything from it (oh wait, they learn to put their responsibilities on others when they grow tired of them).

I read an article about this. It was easter-themed and bunny-themed and all about the decline of the house rabbits and the rise of the smart phones. Which may sound really dramatic, but the core message made me so sad. Maybe not every child needs (or can afford) to have a rabbit or other animal, but why are we replacing their free time with phones that turn their brains off? When I was nine, my neighbor and I walked up the hill to collect some eggs from my chickens. He looked at me standing amongst them with eggs in my hand and asked, “Eggs come from chickens???” Surprise! He was about seven…

What will happen if our world’s children only know how to interact with phones and computers?

Photo by Ivan Poljak

Photo by Ivan Poljak

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Filed under Article Discussion, Humans

Apps for Apes

It’s not enough, apparently, that technology permeates all aspects of our daily lives. Now apes, ape-arently, are next!

Apes using iPad apps? “It’s not a gimmick,” Orangutan Outreach founder, Richard Zimmerman, told Yahoo News.  “If they don’t want to do it, they won’t. There are actual measurable benefits.”

It’s true that apes in our modern-day zoos are well-fed, socialized and cared for. But all too frequently, they’re also bored and lonely, at times. The long hours spent indoors stunt their social growth and development – not something they would normally experience in the wild, so succumbing to the fascination of technology is not all that surprising.

“They need stimulation, especially indoors,” Zimmerman continues. “The zoo keepers can see the benefit from this sort of enrichment. We’re doing this as enrichment as opposed to research. But researchers are getting involved, that’s just not our jurisdiction.”

Apes aren’t the only ones catching on: iPads have already been used as a language interaction device between dolphins and humans. There are even iPad games made specifically for cats! The times are definitely changing, and “iAnimal” is helping us understand how animals see the human world.

They definitely understand more than scientists formerly believed possible. Does this help prove that they do, in a way, think like us?

Zoos are hoping to have Skype and Facetime set up for their orangutans once the primates become more accustomed with the technology. This will hopefully allow Orangutans to easily communicate with their Orangutan friends living in other zoos.

The biggest barrier at the moment is finding the funding for all of these ipads…

Who will pay for these? Will people find it worthy enough for donations? What if Apple made a specific iPad or other, custom-made Apple device specifically for animals?

Orangutan Outreach believes that donations should be used towards Orangutan conservation and rescue, not this “iPad movement.”

If you’d like to make a direct donation to Orangutan Outreach, you can do so here, as well as view the original article here.



Filed under Article Discussion, dolphins, Human & Animal Interactions

Can Only Talking Animals Dance?

In the video below, Snowball, the parrot, takes the spotlight – dancing and rocking out to various rhythms while keeping a great tempo!

Researcher Aniruddh Patel at the Neurosciences Institute in San Diego, along with coworkers, have been observing the relationship between the ability to vocalize, aka talk, and keep rhythm/dance. They noticed that all of the dogs, cats, monkeys and other animals hanging around the labs listened to music all of the time, but never really showed a noticeable sign of moving in time with the beat.

In order to test that Snowball was dancing to the rhythm and beat to the song, and not simply trained to move when the song is heard, BPM (beats per minute) was changed. Adena Schachner at Harvard University is more interested than ever about the subject, because so far it looks like only grey parrots and cockatoos can move this well to music and other beats.

“Across the hundreds of species in the database, we only found evidence of keeping a beat in species that could imitate sound,” Schachner said.

Check it out in this video! You can also read the full article here…

Have you observed you pet, or another animal, enjoying music in one way or another?

On more of a funny note: This Golden Retriever seems to groove pretty well to this guitar playing! Is he in a way trained to move like that? Is he really enjoying the beat and moving to it? Interesting! Enjoy this adorable dog’s dancing…

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Filed under Article Discussion, Behavioral musings, Birds, Video Discussion

Instinctual Understanding: Humans & Dogs!

How well dogs really understand us is a fascinating concept. I’ve always thought so, but it was discussing it with friends over dinner this weekend that finally pushed me to find out more about our unique connection with this evolved wolf: it truly is a fascinating relationship.

The ability to understand each other, both physically and emotionally, has stemmed mainly from the wolf changing its’ way of communication. Before domestication wolves were, for the most part, mute (not barking) and wild wolves still are. Humans, on the other hand, are highly vocal: we rarely rely on communicating purely through body language. For example, seeing two or more people holding an entire “conversation” without words (not including sign language) is a sight I have yet to see.

But body language is the most common form of communication in the animal kingdom!

So, as wolves evolved and accustomed their character to our way of life; so did their voices. They learned that the most accurate way to let us know what they were thinking and what they wanted, was to begin to bark, whine, and growl more often.

More and more research is being done to better understand how humans and dogs are able to get along so well. The outcome of this research has been very interesting: one experiment proving that dogs have minds similar to those of roughly 6 month old babies!

Much research is being done in Budapest. An experiment was held where dogs in different situations were recorded: angry (protecting territory), lonely (left alone/tied up), excited, happy, etc. These recordings were then played to one person at a time and the volunteers were able to, surprisingly, understand almost every one of the barks and whines. Some were even able to guess that the dog was asking for a ball to be thrown!

This same school, in Budapest, has found that young adults and children can understand and communicate with dogs much better than adults.

Below is an article that explores another experiment that was held.

Can dogs really understand our body language better than chimps? Let me know what you think after reading this article!

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Filed under Animals, Article Discussion, Behavioral musings, Dogs, Human & Animal Interactions

Creating Good Habits

Bad habits! Everyone has them: You, your spouse or family member, your animals… everyone. Habits can be hard to break. Replacing them with good habits, ones that improve our well-being and success, can make the process even harder.

Bad habits wiggle their way into our every day lives in forms such as: biting our fingernails, being late to class or meetings, not eating healthy, not exercising, and the list goes on.

So what about our animals? Are they perfectly free of bad habits? What about going to the bathroom on your new carpet? Or giving you a nice view of their tail when they pull you for a walk? They can get in habits of chewing your furniture, barking and whining – even biting.

With the hope that being with our animals improves our habits and ways of life, I thought it’d be motivating and insightful to post an excerpt from an article on exactly that: habits.

Dr. Stephanie Burns has devoted herself to learning about how to learn and the psychology of people as well as animals: emotions. Actually, she has done quite a lot of work with the Parelli’s,, and learned unmeasurable amounts about humans and animals, and how they can best communicate with one another, because of her time with Parelli.

The article Burns wrote about habits, entitled Installing a new habit and breaking an old one, is extremely long. I took an excerpt of what I found to be the most useful and relevant! But I’ll also summarize, roughly, what I believe Dr. Burns is trying to bring across in this article.

She mentions multiple times, and I believe this to be relevant to both humans and animals, that to replace bad habits with better ones we have to make the unwanted habits very hard to do, as well as rewarding heavily for any effort towards the better habit. If your dog is pulling you and then puts slack in the rope, looks back at you and/or begins to walk next to you: reward heavily! Show them, and yourself, how amazing and worthwhile it is to change your habits for the better.

Be clear from the beginning on what exactly it is that you want to change and choose what you would like you, or your animal, to do instead.

Set up triggers and/or reminders for yourself. When you’re opening up the fridge to grab a leftover piece of cake and you see a fruit salad or some other healthy treat right next to it: you might think twice about chowing down on a huge slice of chocolate cake.

In conclusion: Make the right thing easy and the wrong thing difficult! For you and your pet.

Click here to take a look at Stephanie Burn’s article!

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Filed under Article Discussion, Behavioral musings, Handling Emotions, Human & Animal Interactions, Humans

Forming a “Growth Mind-Set”

Our brain behaves like a powerful, mysterious muscle: growing stronger, more refined and with heightened endurance every minute we engage it.

The Scientific American explored this concept, as well as studies concerning “talent” and how it’s perceived, in a very interesting article titled: The Secret to Raising Smart Kids.Reading this article, I almost misread the title as being: The Secret to Raising Smart Animal Companions.

I have always marveled at the direct connection between teaching “animals” and “humans,” after all, they’re just different species, not completely alienated beings: we share a lot of experiences, emotions and basic communication patterns.

Some people communicate with an animal by acting like a monkey themselves. They act very different than they usually would and either become extremely cruel and unjust to the animal or treat it as though it can only learn with a continuous flow of treats and praise.

It’s the same detached communication that the majority of children experience, often all the way up to adulthood and beyond.

The Secret to Raising Smart Kids elaborates that: “More than three decades of research shows … a focus on effort—not on intelligence or ability—is key to success … in life”. What a wonderful concept to teach and raise a child, as well as an animal, with! It seems this article could just as well have been written about raising animals… Wouldn’t it be great if every new parent and/or “animal owner” had a copy of it handed to them with a smile and a “Good luck!“? I hope I can achieve just that by posting this and really hope some of you will enjoy it as much as I did. Click here to learn how to become “smart”! Good luck!

But, maybe you have a busy schedule and simply don’t have the time to read an entire article: there’s just so much to get done today! So, to give you an idea, here’s a rough summary of The Secret to Raising Smart Kids, taken from the Scientific American, just for you!

  • Many people assume that superior intelligence or ability is a key to success. But more than three decades of research shows that an overemphasis on intellect or talent—and the implication that such traits are innate and fixed—leaves people vulnerable to failure, fearful of challenges and unmotivated to learn.
  • Teaching people to have a “growth mind-set,” which encourages a focus on effort rather than on intelligence or talent, produces high achievers in school and in life.
  • Parents and teachers can engender a growth mind-set in children by praising them for their effort or persistence (rather than for their intelligence), by telling success stories that emphasize hard work and love of learning, and by teaching them about the brain as a learning machine.

And… here’s a link to the article!

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Filed under Article Discussion, Behavioral musings, Humans