Category Archives: Science

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

What’s With The Lips?

Those who practice Natural Horsemanship, have most likely been told or have observed that a horse licking his lips is processing something. When a horse over comes a fear, he will lick his lips. When he figures out what you’re asking of him, he licks his lips. It’s a very consistent pattern that comes up whenever pressure is taken off of the horse.

Of course there are times when our horses lick their lips after they did something “bad”, and we know that’s not the last time they’ll do it…

(…) I’ve seen horses kick somebody or buck somebody off and then lick their lips. They may have learned something and become relaxed, but it may not be a positive thing for us. (…) So in the training process we may put pressure on them and they become tight and when they give us positive response we take away the pressure and they relax and lick their lips. This experience can be positive for both us and the horse. We just need to be aware of the situation leading up to them licking their lips and make sure we are getting a favorable response for them to learn from and not something that may be a good experience for them but a bad experience for us. (27)”

- Martin Black, Evidence-Based Horsemanship

But why do they do that? I always thought it was an odd thing to do when you learned something… lick your lips? Really? What if humans did that? Here’s a more scientific angle on it:

You may be familiar with seeing particular oral movements in the horse (such as lip-licking) that indicate their physiological state. For example, a response to stress will release adrenaline and lead to a relatively dry mouth. The horse starts licking with the return of saliva secretion when the balance of the sympathetic and parasympathetic chemical reactions return to their normal set point. (26).”

- Dr. Steve Peters, Evidence-Based Horsemanship

Unknown photographer. I own no rights to this photo.

Unknown photographer.
I own no rights to this photo.

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Filed under Horses, Quotes, Science

MRI Of The Canine Mind

I came across this video today and find it very interesting. What are we going to discover about the dog brain? As far as we know, this is the first MRI done of a dog’s brain who is not sedated and not constrained. Hmmm!


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Filed under Dogs, Science