Lets say this, in your theory, you (the human ) take over the "lead" in the herd. Right. As you said horses have genetically predisposed reactions. Horses flee when they have fear. Flee is genetically predisposed. Right. Even the lead horse will flee, when there is a situation that he is frighten off , so all the others horses will follow.
Yes, fear is genetically predisposed. The horse's reactions to fear is to flee. In a herd situation the herd members look to the leader for its reaction. If the leader has no fear, it will not flee. If the leader does not flee, the herd doesn't flee. Since horses have little reasoning ability, it does not take much fear for the lead horse to flee. But if it does not, neither do the others.
If I as a human, with greater reasoning power, am able to mimic lead horse *actions*, I can take over the lead in the herd. If I have the lead, my human reasoning does not fear the same things a horse does. I will not flee. The horses looking to the leader (me, who will not flee) will accept my assessment the fear is groundless. This lead horse (me) will NOT flee and all the others will follow my lead which is to NOT flee. Even in nature, in totally horse composed herds, there are degrees of fear thresholds among the leaders.
Time and time again, I have demonstrated how this works by spooking a horse in the round pen after its handler has performed the procedure. Invariably, the horse puts its owner between me and it.
Horses are EXTREMELY intuitive. There is a world of difference to a horse between a leader who says, "That is nothing to be concerned with" and a peer who says, "Silly horse, what's the matter with you anyway? Why are you doing that?" The leader leads, the peer (and many people are no more than peers to their horses) questions.
So how can you take over the position of the leader/ what is genetically predispose to flee when having fear. Can you state that you can be the leader of a herd and with your bonding techniques, the genetically predisposed flee, would disappear when a horse becomes frightened?.
One becomes a leader by leading. In the case of horses, they determine leaders by ACTIONS. Using herd dynamics the way a lead horse would shows leadership ability to the other horses. As long as I exhibit that ability the horse will follow. And it will follow me when I ignore the spook.
Since horses are genetically predisposed to react to the *actions* of a rights taking horse in one of two ways, challenge or comply, all I have to do is to be able to perform the *actions* and enforce them by controlling every movement the horse makes until it reacts genetically and complies with my leadership.
The bonder allows me to do that. In the enclosure I absolutely control at liberty what the horse does. It moves in the direction I want it to go until I tell it to stop or go in the other direction. If I want it to speed up or slow down, it does. I usually prefer that the horse go slower as opposed to going faster, because it is not the speed that does the connecting, it is the control of the actions a leader would exhibit in the herd. The horse sees leadership actions, even though I obviously am not a horse, and because he cannot make that distinction he reacts to the actions and complies. So far, of all the horses I have used this on, ALL have complied. So far, it has not failed me. It has worked with marked differences in speed and ease, but it has ALWAYS worked.
Also outside of a round pen. An good experiment would be. To get a group of wild horses, find the leader, do the bonding, in the round pen. He will except you as a leader. Put you, who would be the leader of the herd with the "ex-leader' back in the wild. Create a natural situation were they normally will flee,but you as the leader doesn't flee, so the ex leader doesn't flee either,so the whole herd doesn't flee. Does that make sense?
You are assuming that the leader is a he. My observations do not bear that out. The stallions are responsible for reproduction and genetic purity - THEY drive rivals from the herd and if they are challenged, the stronger will prevail usually - sometimes BOTH are mortally wounded.
If we had a group of wild horses and I found the leader, I could indeed become the leader of that "leader". But she would just drop one place in the leadership line up. I would have to demonstrate to all the other horses that I am the leader as well. Herd leadership is a constantly changing dynamic, if you do not lead, you are a follower. You must be able to take rights from ALL of the other herd members at will. because I do not have the speed and stamina of a horse, I have to demonstrate leadership to them individually under a controlled environment.
If I have two horses that I have demonstrated to they will consider me the leader. Right now, I interact with seven horses and two foals on a regular basis. They consider me to be the leader when we are together. I have not dealt with a bigger herd than that at any one time.
But these are horses I have worked with individually. Not a herd of previously undealt with horses as you have suggested for the test. If I was a human with horse speed and stamina, I would have the entire herd of previously undealt with horses following me in less than a half hour.
When you talk about effective leadership in your last e-mail I hope you were talking about leadership in regard to horses. If you meant humans I would disagree with you? You stated" the most effective leadership really operates under the premise that you make the choice to follow or not True, but society is not based on honesty, if I decided not to follow a leader I might loose my job, my career , society forces you to follow.
Effective leadership whether by humans or horses allows choice. You can choose to follow or not to follow. If you choose not to follow as a horse, you have to be able to make it on your own or you pay a high price. If you choose not to follow as a human you must be able to make it on your own or you will pay a high price. Honesty, societal or otherwise, has nothing to do with making the choice. Fear does.
You stay where you have less fear. THAT is why people don't easily leave unpleasant situations (flee). The fear you know is less than the fear of the unknown. THAT is how herd dynamics work. There is less fear in the herd so you seek the herd to lessen fear. Eons and eons and eons of herd genetics make herd animals understand herd dynamics.
If I establish a herd relationship with a horse or horses they will be FAR LESS LIKELY to leave the herd security I provide when spooked.
This "discussion" is REALLY bringing my concepts into razor sharpness for me. Now if I can just begin to convey a little part of that sharpness to others.
This afternoon I took a 19 year old fear riddled TB mare into the pen at the request of someone who wanted to see me work. And in less than half an hour she said, "If you have a fan club, I want to be President." And MOST of that time was explaining to her how it worked. The even clearer understanding of the concepts brought about by this discussion made the process almost instinctive to me.
The horses that are the hardest to work with at the clinics are those horses that people just want to a little better connection with - the changes are difficult for the uninitiated to see.
I love it when a highly nervous, agitated or aggressive horse is brought in, They make me look REALLY good - the changes are so fast and dramatic people stand there in disbelief.
You asked in another email about hormonally unbalanced or mentally ill horses - why I don't allow them at my clinics and how to identify them. It isn't that I don't allow them at my clinics, I said my techniques are not intended to be used on them. They have mental abnormalities that prevent them from recognizing the actions of a lead horse. A mentally ill horse would be one who exhibits erratic behavior in an inconsistent manner regardless of circumstances - when you see one you'll know it, there will be no doubt. A hormonally unbalanced horse will have an extreme Jekyll & Hyde reactions to consistent situations AND has been diagnosed with hormonal deficiencies.
I would make the decision as to whether or not to allow them based on a discussion with the owner. If I felt the horse met the criteria, I would not allow the horse to attend the clinic SOLELY for safety reasons. I *WOULD* work with the animal privately.
In the case of the elephants: Water is necessary for survival. So the elephants have a choice. The inborn knowledge that they must have water to survive is a stronger force than the learned fear of humans.When one sets about to define a problem in order to set about resolving it, it helps to refine it as tightly as you can. The primary focus of this "diatribe" is to analyze whether or not the herd dynamics remove fear and if it does, how it appears to do that.
The Morgan, you said, was around your barn for a couple of years before you applied your bonding with her. Do you think it would have worked as well if you had tried it as soon as she arrived from the trainer? My thinking is that even though her behavior did not reflect it, on an unconscious level she was absorbing the atmosphere of your barn and your non-aggressive behavior toward your horses. In other words, she had reached a comfort level so that when you asked her to change her behavioral responses she felt non-threatened enough to comply.
Whether the elephants (or horses, dogs or humans) have a choice or not is not germane to the discussion of whether or not fear *CAN* be overcome. The point is, a primal fear, the fear of man, was overcome. The purpose of this discussion is how horse herd dynamics overcomes fear - whatever kind it is.
I do not have any idea what goes on in a horse's subconscious as far as the remembrance of fear goes. I'm taking issue with the statement that *subconscious* fear, always has an effect even though the fear has apparently been conquered as evidenced by the horse's non-reaction when exposed to the fear after the conquering. True, the fear may surface again in off guard moments, but it does not ALWAYS surface when faced again.
For instance, Dee simply does not exhibit ANY fear in many situations where she went ballistic before. She shows no sign that she is giving these situations ANY fear value. And I can pinpoint the exact minute that change occurred and what action brought about that change. It is as though a cleaver separated the two behaviors. It is that sharp and that abrupt.
Now then, as to the possibility of becoming more comfortable with the barn routine as time went on and that having a marked effect on her new security. If Dee was the only nervous horse I worked with, I'd have to say, "I spose that's possible." However, she is not the only horse with this condition that I have worked with. I have worked with nervous horses on their own turf and on strange turf, such as at clinics and here at the farm. The results are consistent, no matter where the herd dynamics are applied.
As far as whether or not you have done the bonder correctly, I have absolutely no idea because I was not there to watch you do it. I can only assure you that if I, or Kellie, or possibly some others on this list, performed the procedure, whether there or here or anywhere else, on your horse, there would be immediate marked positive behavioral differences in your horse.
The horses do not comply because of any atmosphere acclimation and as a result of feeling less threatened. They comply because they are presented with actions that they are genetically pre- programmed to respond to. Actions that promote harmony and unity. Where there is harmony and unity, there *IS* comfort.
I have said on many occasions, I **REALLY** prefer a clinic FULL of nut cases than I do one full of minor problem horses or those the owner merely wants a better connection with. The more fear- crazed the horse, the better I like it. THOSE are the ones that will make chins drop to the ground and heads shake in disbelief at the speed at which the dramatic changes occur.
They are desperate for comfort and security. The instant they are presented with the bonder scenario in the manner I have laid out they start falling into line because they instinctively recognize what is going on and they *KNOW* what is expected of them. There are no surprises - it is a familiar action they, and their ancestors for millions of years, have been through so many times they know what is at the end of it - comfort and security.
Marv "Even in a game with no rules, there are still rules." Walker
The Last Page Was # 5 ~ Herd Dynamics: The Variables Of Fear
This page is #6 ~ Herd Dynamics: Questions And Comments From Readers
Click here to check out my very reasonably priced DVD inventory covering many of the subjects featured on my site's pages in greater depth.
Back To Top
For Further Information Contact Marv Walker 706 468-6990 Evenings 9 to 12 PM
Questions, comments or suggestions
Back to Marv Walker's Index Page