Equine Instinctive Learning Nature

(The instinctive nature of life - Part III-A)

    Providing that you have read, and mainly understood, the part I and part II of the instinctive nature of life, we can now move to the part three, the equine instinctive learning nature. Of course for one to understand the following one must be familiar with the nature of horses to understand it. The nature of horses is a separate publication, and the primitive version of it is published on my other website stablemade.com

Click image to enlarge.
Image 1.
The "instinctive tree" of life, the inborn and gained instincts.

Click image to enlarge.
Image 2.
The cycle of instinctive procreation.
Horses have no clue what they are doing when breeding, nursing and such, as it is all instinctive.

Image 3.

The earth is all about the heart, the only thing defying the instinct of self-preservation, mostly found in stallions driven by a stronger drive to reproduce, and in mares by the instinct of protecting the young.
In short, when the brain says "run", the heart says stand and "fight'! When the body says, "quit", the heart says, "go"!
And so we say:
"When the going gets tough the tough get going"

The below pain/awareness graphs are relevant mainly to humans, hence presenting also the human concepts, like love. In animals, it is to some point similar.
The "suicide" aspect of the below graph is not applicable to animals at all, as pointed out in this article.

Image 4.
The words, love, passion are not applicable to animals.
Animals also do not have any suicide thresholds.

Image 5.

The pain is the driving force of life and the source of awareness. Everything we feel is a form of pain, and it is the individual's threshold of pain that determines what is pleasant and what not. The pain and related fear is also the key teaching and learning tool in training animals, as well as people.

We train animals by manipulating the environment and their perception of it, and by exploiting their natural inborn and gained instincts.

The basic and primitive training methods revolve around the so-called "stick and carrot" training of horses, as well as simple people. The stick = pain = punishment, or reprimand or at least annoyance/irritation, and the carrot is the "reward", as all self-aware life enjoys some sort of pleasure or comfort. The stick and the relevant pain and the fear of it is the exploitation of the self-preservation instinct. The "reward" the carrot and the desire for it, is the exploitation of the inborn instinct to eat. All trick training of animals, like in the circus or today's dressage, are for most part based on this concept. In dressage, and related treatment of animals, the reward is given by the cessation of pain or discomfort, or some kind of nuisance.

Image 6.

This is the way of the heart.

Horses living more to the right towards the pain tend to be more responsive to life. Needless to say that too much to the right in handling horses will often produce nervous and very unstable horses to deal and work with. All brave and tough horses are found on this side of the center.
And so we say: "No pain no gain", or as above:
"When the going gets tough the tough get going".

Image 7.

This is the way of the brain.

Horses for most part move to the left of pain towards comfort and boredom. It is the instinct ("desire") to breed and reproduce or just plain hunger that will drive them towards the pain, as they have to often fight for it. Horses for most part feel quite comfortable in the boredom zone of predictability since it feels safe.
However, in people, because of the existential awareness it is the way to death. On the same note, horses living on the left side are less responsive to life, hence this is where you find the numbskulls or the so-called "bombproof" horses, needless to say, preferred by the same personalities of humans, and so we say:
"to each its own".

One day, one of my daughters, then about 19 asked me if and when she gets a dog if I would train it.
I replied: "Yes I would, but the dog must not be older than 12 weeks".
She asked: "When the dog is trained will it listen to me?"
I replied: "Yes it will".
And then I added: "The dog will listen to anyone I give it to, as long he or she is familiar with the training and commands."
With sad and disappointed eyes, she replied: "I want a dog that will listen only to me".
When women speak of control, whose control are they talking about? Yes, with many women it is all about the control, especially of that which they claim to love (The beauty and the beast, or the black beauty, syndromes. , I forgot King Kong. Now it dawned on me why they "love" the BIG and Powerful horses - warm-bloods. One could expect that by the end of this century we will have horses 25 hands or taller, if this keeps going on).

      It would be best to use some form of art to present the instinctive learning function of animals in the natural world. I will use the so-called "tree of life", which is not commonly used for this purpose, but never the less fairly suitable for the artistic presentation, or better said visual presentation of self-aware life. As sated in the previous article, humans and animals both have the self-awareness on which ground they relate.

      All animals, like us, are born with the so-called inborn instincts. It would be best to imagine (Image 1.) the inborn instincts as the root of the tree, and the trunk of the tree, as a new born individual, sprouting from the inborn instincts, and the main three branches as the main three, now functioning, inborn instincts (self-preservation, reproduction and the need to eat) from which they branched out into smaller branches that grow the new gained instincts, the leaves. The circle around the tree (Image 3.) are the five senses through which the new information reaches the branches and grows new leaves.

       The main root instinct of all animals is the instinct of self-preservation. I do not like to use the term survival, because that is merely humanized form for the natural life. Animals live (better expression - are alive) in their environment and die in them as well, and since they have no awareness of their state, let alone time*, they do not try to survive anything, as we may perceive it.
     It is us humans that survive the times of pain and struggles, because we are aware of our state, and mainly of the time, knowing that all things come to an end, including our pain and hardship, thus the human will to survive, hence hope. If this pain and hardship is beyond our bearing, we in some cases commit suicide (Image 4.), or at least think about it, which is something that no animal does, let alone contemplates, especially not the latter for which it would have to have the capacity to think.

      And so, as established, the core instinct of all life is self-preservation, and from this come the instincts to eat (consume) and to proliferate (multiply), which is the core imprint in all life in the universe. In the greater scheme of things it would be fair to say that the life in the universe insures its continuous existence by proliferation, or better said by procreation, into various forms and insurmountable varieties within these forms of life.
     However, unfortunate as it is, once a species, or better said a new life form, attains its existential awareness and becomes aware of its state (existence - becomes a being) it tends to loose in fairly short time the will or desire to live since it became aware of time to the extent of comprehending the beginning and the end.
     In contrast to that, animals like horses simply lack this existential awareness, therefore unaware of their state of existence, and if their bodies would function infinitely they would live infinitely doing the same shit over and over for billions of years.
     As one person stated, "The human existence is all about whether to commit suicide or not", or as Shakespeare stated, "To be or not to be that is the question", obviously referring to this dilemma of human existence or any new existentially aware being.

      Not to confuse more the point of this article, the instinctive nature, as well as the instinctive learning nature of the horse can be pictured as the above described tree, with branches and leaves on the branches, or better comparison would be a tree made entirely from chain links.
     The root/the main trunk of the tree (Image 1.) is the instincts of self-preservation, and the tree has three branches (three big chain links), in short it splits at the main trunk as some trees do, one, e.g. the left being the proliferation instinct, the center being the self-preservation instinct, and the right the instinct to eat and provide for one self.
     These three base branches then branch out (chain links) according to the inborn instincts/nature (the roots) of the particular species of mammals, with which the new animals are born with, but not in identical strength.
     This is the part that contains the inborn instincts (the inborn nature of the animal), instincts that one has to know and understand, and mainly be instinctively (not intellectually, hence books don't help) familiar with, if and when he wants to train or deal with animals, in this case horses.

      Unfortunately the human kind grew excessively stupid in the last few decades, due to its inability, or better said lack of maturity, to deal with new discoveries, especially in the technological fields.
     It came to my attention that many folks, including the ones in related animal science study colleges, perceive the horse as a large dog, completely ignoring their opposing natures, one being a predator and one being for most part a prey. Needless to say that this is fairly fourth grade education and if you lack it, you more likely have no clue what I am writing anyway, so go and play with your pet, until it teaches you about its nature. (May be a good kick by the horse will wake you up.)

      Now the predatory nature differs significantly from the prey nature, or grass eating animals, mainly in how they perceive food. In just one simple example, when you feed a dog the dog is aware that you have fed it and is aware that you have brought the food, as dogs in the wild are providers, and bring food to one another.
     However, horses on the other hand have no awareness (perception) that you have brought the food, nor they have any clue that you have fed them, because no horses in nature bring food to other horses. Horses associate food with place, as opposed to dogs that associate food with other life. Horses do not bury their food, as opposed to dogs that do and often store the food as the rodents do, though all is instinctive, of course.

      The rodents like rats are much closer to us in the instinctive perception of life and food than dogs or horses, horse to be the most distant from us of these three. We tend to relate to dogs much better than to horses, and also get much better response from them, because we are more or less belonging to the predatory species, as opposed to the horse that is not. However, we resent the rats, and one should take a closer look why, but since this is not about rats but horses I will obviously skip this. I have more on this predatory issue on stablemade.com

       Never the less, the inborn instincts are set when the horse is born, and as the animal starts to move in the environment it will instinctively begin to acquire new information, which most laics and greenhorns see as "being curious". Please, note the key word "motion" in the instinctive learning nature of the horse. Horses simply acquire information either by responding to a motion, or moving so as to create motion in the unknown.
      The fear of the unknown is often misrepresented and misunderstood, because horses do not fear the unknown, but rather fear anything that is unpredictable from their stand. For example, if the person that they "know", like someone that is taking care of them, who does not respond to the horse in a predictable way, the horse for most part fear such person or at least feels nervous and discontent in such company.
      Furthermore they also fear everything that moves and was not programmed (registered) instinctively into the instinctive tree. Once when reaching safety, they will in most cases return to instinctively gain information about that moving thing that lives, and they have to live with, in their environment. Once they acquire the information by interaction, they will then always respond instinctively and mainly suitably for most part, to a similar situation when it presents itself.

      All these new acquisitions gained from the environment are not stored in some sort of conscious memory base, as in us, but are rather permanently attached (linked) to this instinctive tree at the appropriate/relevant branches as some leaves, or for the sake of a better word, new chain links. This is why it is so hard to reeducate horses, which in reality never actually happens, as all information acquired by them is permanent (permanently attached to the tree). Hence animals cannot forget, nor they can remember anything, since they have no conscious memory to retrieve from.
      I do not ever recall a horse behaving as if it has lost its memory, because they do not have any too lose. What actually happens through the thing we call "reeducation" is that the horse is simply growing more of the new leaves (chain links), of which many override, or at least sort of cover, the previous gained information. It pretty much works as a computer, like the cache memory, as when you use software every day it pops right up when you click on the shortcut, but if not used for a while, it is much slower to come up.
     Needless to say that once we click on the software that was rarely used, next time it will be the quickest one to pop up. And so now you may understand how some, well going and well behaving horses, for some odd reason change as if overnight, and behave in, to us, unfamiliar way.

      What is also important to know about the new gained instincts is not only on which branch of the tree they grow but also just how close they are stored to the self-preservation trunk/root, or how far up on the tree they are placed in relevance to association. All new information is sorted out and stored "filed" according to the core instincts of the animal (priorities if you will), which pretty much revolves around self-preservation, or safety if you will,  and of course food and proliferation, hence anything that has to do with these three is stored right next to the relevant main branches of this tree.
      And so, they will obviously tend to override other gained instincts that are less relevant to these inborn instincts of self-preservation, hence more at the top of the tree or more distant from the main branches. One could say that the "things" that are stored closer to the "heart" (Image 3.), (core of the tree), are more important than the "things" stored closer to the "brain" (top of the tree).

      For example, you are grooming a horse and someone rattles the feed tub (opens the feed room etc.), especially just before feeding time, and you will have your hands full in handling the animal in most cases, especially with the younger ones, providing they have a good appetite.  On the same note, when doing the same with a stallion, someone brigs a mare nearby and you'll find yourself in similar, if not worse situation, because of the stallion's proliferation instinct, which of course again depends on its strength, or potency if you will.
     This is why stallions are much more dangerous because their proliferation drive is purely instinctive, as opposed to mares that is more biological, hence in stallions for most part constant, as opposed to mares that is according to the reproductive cycles and the relevant changes in hormones, influencing the mare's responses to the environment.
       This is why the stallions or geldings are often preferred by horsemen, because of their constancy, hence predictability and reliability, as opposed to mares that are fairly unpredictable and unreliable, because they hardly spend any time with their hormones in balance. 
      For this reason it is a genuine mismatch, a woman and a stallion, since the stallion is predictable and women are not, and stallions tend to get more annoyed with this unpredictability, as well as with the fear that women often bring with them, and times to the point that they will retaliate.  Not necessarily because they are aggressive, but because they are simply annoyed and agitated by the female unpredictability and inconsistence in behavior that is almost always accompanied with the woman's fear when facing danger, often fearing even the stallion itself. (It was more likely women that invented the concept of charging more board for a stallion than other horses. I could not believe that when I came to this country, as it was something unheard of by me.)

      People, especially women and most laics and amateurs, often speak of trust when dealing with horses. As a matter of fact I know one nincompoop that actually advertize this nonsense and call his circus freak show the "Training with trust". ($700.00 per "clinic" per visitor, and he is booked. People often say or think, "He must know something if he gets this money, and is booked". Yes he does, he knows "there is a sucker born every minute".)
     Needless to say that this bullshit sells well among the greenhorns, and mainly among the women, who often cannot get enough of this crap and end up paying a lot of money for it, but that is another issue, but the gullibility of women has been already mentioned in the previous related publications. (It is over 90% of women that attend these clinics, and the rest are for most part men that are trying to learn the tricks of this trade in "how to make money of the suckers, the women "horse-lovers" .) Most farms that hire these guys to perform their circus show do it to promote their farm via some attraction that brings people to their farm, but unfortunately many of these farms also buy into this shit, but that is again another story.

       It is predictability and not trust, that greatly influences the responses of the horse to us, as well as its overall behavior. The more predictable the environment is, the more content and calm horses become, as opposed to the opposite environment that is full of irregularities and unpredictability, where the animal simply grows more nervous and unsafe, and consequently mentally stressed, which to some extent is pointed out in my publication on entrapment, (this is not a rule, as there are exceptions).
     And so, the key elements in training and handling horses are, "familiarity" and "predictability", and there is no trust in nature, because there is no deception, since in nature wolfs do not wear sheep's closing. The stealth like behavior of hunting animals is only instinctive, and mostly inborn. In short they have no clue what they are doing, though it appears to us that they do.

      Because horses lack the existential awareness, they also have a different awareness of time, or better said they have no perception of time what so ever. Now of course one would say that "they know their feeding time", which of course has nothing to do with any perception of time, but it has to do with the so-called "Earth-time-clock" (or better said the sun clock of which the Earth is part of) to which all life on the earth is tuned in, even us, but because of our additional unnatural abilities it is suppressed and so most of us are not aware of it.
      On the other hand, most farmers in the past did not only knew what time it was within only few minutes, they also had better weather forecast than our technology delivers today , but that again is another story. One thing should be learned from this paragraph, which is to feed on time and schedule, especially if it is fairly regular, because the feeding instinct is actually one of the three main branches of the instinctive tree.
     The denied access to the food will often make horses nervous and insecure when in captivity, hence the beating on feed tubs, digging (horses do no pawing because they donít have paws, but the vets think they do) and screaming, especially if one is late. On the other hand there were there is no regular access to food, horses tend to be less stressed by irregularities. Needless to say that if they live free out on the open no such stress is ever experienced.

   In conclusion, because if its importance I will again repeat, that if horses have no clue of their state of existence, they have no awareness of time, hence they also have no clue they will die one day. Furthermore since they have no clue about their state, for anyone to say that we enslave animals is just absurd.
   On the other hand, the most absurd concept around horses or pets is seen in those people that claim to "love" these animals, ascribing them all sorts of human attributes, but at the same time having no problem enslaving them and using them for pets or what not. In short, if you disagree (as if I give a shit) with what I have written and insist that horses are capable of love, remorse and thought, and you own one, you are genuinely not only a hypocrite but a very nasty person, because according to your beliefs you enslave and use other "beings" for yourself. For if you are right to believe that horses love, hate, think, feel remorse and such, you have just elevated the horse or pet from being a mere animal to becoming a being. And so if you believe these things, you are either an ignoramus and idiot or a downright nasty self-serving hypocrite, which is it?

     I cannot think of a greater display of crudeness and disrespect of the horse as people do when "training" the horse to lay down so they can sit on top as some conquerors, or that the horse "trusts" them. It could not get more sickening than this in the eyes of any decent horsemen. And women? Well, most just love it, , as that beautiful, "gracefull" and powerful "beast" called horse is submitted to their feet and loves them and trust them.

     Check the links below to see what people do out of boredom.
What lies? What madness?
The Training with Trust - Exploiting the suckers.


Written by Ludvik K Stanek a.k.a Lee Stanek (2010)