A leading edge thinker of the animal behaviorist community Marc Bekoff is sharing his studies to help everyone understand that animals do have similar emotions to our selves. For many of us this is not hard to understand at all, yet it seems some people still need convincing. Why? Well that is still a mystery to someone like me who has always agreed that my horses, dogs, cats and all animals I have interacted with feel many emotions. I have witnessed sadness, happiness, anger, love and numerous other states especially from the horse behavior aspect.
When we agree to accept that horses have emotions then our understanding of how to care and communicate more effectively can be accomplished. For example, knowing that horses are a highly social creature with a highly developed fight or flight instinct then housing them in separate stalls or inflicting painful training methods would not be conducive to gaining trust or fellowship from them.
I may not hold a PhD but an animal behaviorist I am. I examine research, spend hours observing and compiling evidence of how a horse would naturally live & learn then try to everything in my power to implement a lifestyle that would satisfy their well being and welfare.
Behavior modification in a horse can only come when we can better see the emotional side and then respect it. An example would be when a horse is frightened I would never insist upon the horse trying harder or reprimanding them. Instead I ease up, stop and befriend them this will offer guidance and trust (in me) rather than force. In other words, I will never make a horse feel wrong for being afraid. Compassion goes a long way under these circumstances.
Walking the animal behaviorist path has led me to a place of peace with all living creatures. After all animals offer us way more than we could ever offer them in this lifetime.
So no, you will never see me betting on a horse at the race track or cheering on the cowboy/cowgirl at the rodeo grounds or even at any competitive event with horses being used. Why? Because under all of these conditions we are not acknowledging the animal’s well being or welfare first.