Friday, April 25, 2014

Information - What's It Worth

Each day at every moment, we go through our lives acquiring knowledge and information. Some things we tend to figure out on our own. Others we pay good money to take classes so we can get the information we are looking for. We can also search the internet and get all kinds of information, all right at our fingertips. We can get information from our friends and family members. Information is important for us to make knowledgeable choices. We need it, but more importantly we need to fully understand it, and know what to do with it once we get it..

The title "Information - What's It Worth" is something I was just pondering over on my ride home one night. The reason I wanted to write about it is. I feel that information is misused or discarded in many ways. For the information to be worth anything at all it has to reliable and we need to fully understand it. Anytime we receive information we owe it to ourselves to research it to make sure it is in fact reliable. We should also research it so that we can have a better understanding of it. Information is passed around these days with no regard to accuracy. In fact a lot of times it is purposely manipulated to get us to lean  one direction. Whether it is to use someones services over another's, or so you buy their product instead of someone else's. Even the political parties will manipulate information on their own behalf to gain the favor of the voting public. In that sense, information can be more valuable to the person giving it than it is to the person receiving it. We need to research it so it becomes more valuable to us then it is them. Specially if we are being manipulated.

If we take information at face value. We end up living in a bubble and others are using us as puppets. Its when you look deeper into things to really try to figure things out. That's when you can start to live your own life and make a difference in others.

"Nothing is as it seems." This is such a true statement. It covers everything you can think of and there is so much more to it. We have a habit as humans to try to simplify things. That's great sometimes but not always wise. Miranda Lambert has a song out "Automatic"  There is a line in the song  "Cause when everything is handed to you, Its only worth the time you put in!!" I totally agree with this line. Even if something has great value, we won't see it if we don't take the time to look for its true value. This is especially true if we did not earn it for ourselves. This is also one of the reasons our Natural Resources are being wastefully harvested and used up. Even though we are paying good money for these products, their true value isn't seen by very many of us. That's why they over harvest and we become very wasteful. I could really take this part into a whole book, but then we would get off track.

When it comes to us working with our horses we tend to analyze things by making excuses.  If we do this we never really get to find out what is really going on. Our horses will feed us a lot of really good information on a regular basis. If we don't take the time to figure it out, the information becomes totally useless. I try to find ways to "ask the horse" sometimes you need to get creative in order to do this. They will tell you. In fact they are telling you something every moment you are with them. We just need to listen and figure out what it is.

In the horse industry you can find anyone anywhere to give you some information on any subject you want. The information in most cases will be reasonably good information. But, it will be in the way that the person who gave it to you, understands it. If you take that at face value, it may be useless to you. If you take the time to fully understand it, you may find some value in it. Even the most useless information can have value if you take the time to put it in the right perspective and take the time to understand it. I guess in a way it all boils down to what matters most to us. Our own priorities will determine what information we want to hold on to and what we want to discard. I would recommend we do not discard anything without a honest effort given to understand it.

There are many things that are discarded or thrown away. Considered trash or garbage by the person who did so. There are many others who can see a treasure in these things. They take these things and do wonderful things with them. They make art, recondition it, or even re purpose it. There are many who make a fortune doing this type of thing. With information seen as a commodity, we can do the same thing. We pick up information in every moment of our lives. Most of it thrown away. Most often with no thought put into it at all. With a little thought and effort the info can become very valuable. It just takes a little effort and creativity to figure out what to do with it. You would be amazed if you stop and think about where information can be applied. Things you wouldn't even think are connected can be enhanced or modified by information you received in a total other subject or area of life. Everything is connected in some way. If we can learn to figure these things out then information of every type becomes a very valuable commodity.

I hope this topic gives you a new perspective and helps you learn to see the value in the information you receive. Whether its finding value in something you would otherwise call useless information, or to not put to much value on information without looking deeper into it. Find the true value for yourself, and don't rely on someone else's presentation of it. Listen to other peoples take on it, but remember they may have a different out look and will tell it as they understand it. They may be a little prejudice and give one sided pro's and con's. So put some effort into it.  Information really is only worth the time you put into figuring it out.

Thanks for reading along with us and as always feel free to comment and ask questions, even answer someone else's question if you think your info can help them, or feel free to elaborate on something. We are all looking for more information whether we are aware of it or not. Thanks again.

Friday, April 18, 2014

React, Respond, or Retaliate - What Do They Mean and What's The Difference

In this topic I would like to explain my take and understanding of different responses we or our horses may have, what they mean, and why I feel it is important to know the difference. In each response we are communicating something. There is information there for us to figure out. There are other terms I could have used but I wanted 3 distinct categories. Be aware that in some cases we could have a little of all three or any two categories show up at the same time in our response to something. Knowing how to determine and analyze what you have will help you make better decisions.

The 3 categories I chose for this is like the title suggests. React, Respond, and Retaliate. Each term represents a different mental state. Your mental state and emotional status (or your horses) will determine the type of response. So in the same way, if we evaluate the type of response we are getting. We will know what kind of mental or emotional state we are dealing with. If we know this, it will help us make better decisions when it comes to trying to help.

Lets start by talking about the term React. If we react to something it ends up being more of a reflex type response. Usually something scares or startles us and we have a reaction. A nervous person or a nervous horse will tend to react to things. Examples of a reaction could be if we touch something hot enough to burn us we will react by pulling away. Also if we walk around a corner and we just about bump into someone we might instantly freeze or back up. A loud noise may startle us and we react by jumping or freezing up. Another could be a fear we have of something like a mouse, snake, spider, bee's or bat's that whenever we see one the fear takes over and does not allow us to think very clearly and we react in ways like, turning and running, climbing on a table, swatting and ducking. Sometimes bumping into things and just not thinking about anything we are doing till the threat is gone.

Many people who ride horses are Reactive riders. Meaning they sit on top of the horse and react to whatever the horse does. If the horse gets startled the person will tend to react by clamping or pulling on the reins. Another example of a Reactive rider is the person who may not be aware of their horses movement all that well. They sit on top of the horse and as long as they are going where they are supposed to they don't do anything. Most times they are oblivious to the horses mental or emotional status. So when the horse strays or changes speed the rider reacts with a correction as to say don't do that. The opposite of this type of rider would be the active rider. This will be covered below in the respond category.

This term is quite universal. Every type of a response means you respond in some way or another. As above states to React is to respond most often in a reflex like manner. The next topic Retaliate is to respond in objection. The term Respond means to answer or reply. I am talking about this category as a neutral response. One that is of making a conscious effort to understand and respond appropriately. The phrase,"How would you respond appropriately?" is a question asked of a lot of people. The effort to give thought into a decision to respond makes it a response in which we can learn, it can teach, and or make a positive outcome. Doing this will minimize disagreements or arguments. As the definition suggests to respond is also to reply. So when a question is raised we must make a conscious effort to reply. Your horse will ask you Questions every moment you are with them. If you listen to them and not just sit up on top of them you will have many opportunities to respond appropriately and reply to the many questions they raise. This here is an example of an Active Rider. Even on the ground, they listen and respond with conscious thought and effort put toward understanding the needs of their horse. All this is done with every step, every breath and every movement.

To retaliate is to respond with objection. It can be out of anger, stubbornness, or just plain disapproval. People and Horses retaliate physically and verbally for many different reasons. Sometimes they are sticking up for themselves. Other times they may just not want to do whatever is asked of them. When we get this type of response from someone or a horse we need to evaluate why they did it. Making sure not to make excuses for why but really look for the answer. We do not want to guess at this. If we just react to retaliation then we end up in a war. We need to think it through and figure it out so we can respond appropriately. This way we can learn, teach, and make a positive outcome instead of going into battle unnecessarily.

As I said above, we may have all or just a few of these in play at any one time. We need to take the time to evaluate who is doing it, what they are doing, when they are more likely to do it, where it might be likely to happen, why it happens, how it comes about and think about how to go about responding appropriately to make a difference. That was just a quick run down and another way to look at a previous Blog Topic called, " The Who What When Where Why and How of Horsemanship" You may enjoy reading this one as well. It can help you with your evaluation skills.

So in closing here I would like to say the middle of the road in terms of responses would be to respond in a logical and ethical manner. The times that we need to react quickly in response to something should be something we have planned out ahead of time. "A Conditioned Response" would be when a reflex like response is needed during certain times or conditions. We can train ourselves and our horses to respond in a certain way during these conditions. In this way, we or they, can respond appropriately with a proper reaction.  I have to say I enjoy the compliments I get on my horses. I hear people say, "they respond so well" This is do to me taking the time to respond appropriately to them and their needs, as well as teach them to think things out and respond appropriately instead of reacting mindlessly. I don't get any retaliation because they learn to appreciate me and want to do things with me and don't feel threatened in any way. I work with their fear and emotions in a way they learn to respond under pressure and not just react or retaliate. As we all know, no matter how good it is, there is always room for improvement. We should all strive to find the knowledge and understanding to do that.

I hope this all makes sense to everyone and you all enjoyed reading it. I want to thank you all for reading along. Please feel free to comment or ask questions. It may help expand all of our knowledge and understanding.

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Communication - Right From The Horses Mouth

The title of this topic will take us in a few different directions. One will be understanding the source of information that we may receive in our daily communications with others as well as our horses. Another will be about how we need  to ask our horse directly what they need from us and not just assume we know or make excuses for what is going on. They will tell you if you ask them and know how to listen for the answer.

Understanding the source of information is real important. Even if the source is a real reputable source. What I mean by this is. No one will repeat something exactly the way they heard it. So as this information goes from one to another, It will change a little each time. Not because they want to change it, but because they will repeat it in the way they understood it. I learned this lesson young by playing a game at a Halloween party as a child. If you haven't ever played this game I highly recommend you try it. The larger the group the better (or worse) the results will be. It starts with everyone in a line. Then someone in charge will have a simple sentence written on a piece of paper. They will show it to the first person and ask them to whisper it to the person next to them. Each person doing the same till it makes it to the last person. Then the last person is asked to say out loud what they were just told. Every time I have seen this done in the past the last person says something almost totally unrecognizable to the original sentence. Which every one will get to see because it is written on paper. The conversations of what each person heard on down the line are amazing to listen to.

This game was an early lesson for me in the need to seek the truth. Now Truth is never absolute. It can only be relative to our own experiences, knowledge and understanding. No matter how much you try to discover the truth it can never be absolute truth. The more information you get the closer you get, but something will always be missing.

Now, we have all heard the term,"Right From The Horses Mouth"  This by far is the best source for information. Just as in the cases above and when communicating with your horse this information is only relative to your knowledge and understanding of what you received for information. We will interpret it the way we understand it. Not necessarily the way it was intended. It requires us to do some research on the subject, no matter what it is and no matter what we think we might know. There have been times that a person has said to me,"This is what my trainer or instructor told me to do." Knowing what I know in most cases they just misunderstood the original instructions. I say this because a few times I have instructed people on some things and moments later (sometimes days later) I would have to explain it better because they interpreted it in a way that I did not intend. But this is human nature. We understand things each in our own ways. So this is why more research is always needed. With our horses it might require us to try a number of things to rule things out. A few examples I could give referring to horses could be, 1) an injury or health problem, and 2) any problem a horse might give you while working with them. Whether its on the ground asking them to do something or mounted. Not just asking them to do something but maybe they are doing something we would like them to stop doing.

In both examples above, knowing how to build a foundation will help. If you already have a reasonable foundation going back to the building of the foundation can help you ask all the important questions so you can get to the underlying issues. Most problems with a horse come from either a total or partial lack of foundation. The actual problem being that the horse does not understand. Or. Does not trust the out come of the situation. When a foundation is built and maintained it grows stronger. When it does the horse learns to trust you and will do anything you ask them to. Also you will have developed ways to ask them not to do things that you would like them to stop doing. In this way you have the ability to ask the horse directly and if you understand your horse, you will get the answers directly from the horses mouth, so to speak.

In the examples above, if fear and anxiety are the underlying issue. Then we need to go back to basics and rebuild our foundation. Working on building trust and understanding in as many areas as we can. We need to get this to a point that the horse appreciates us so much that no matter what we ask of them, they will try. Because they want to, not because we force them to. Some horses are more fearful then others. Some of them will never stop being afraid. But we can communicate to them, "Relax, I got this. You don't need to worry one bit" and no matter how scared they are, they will trust in you. This is an example of a sold foundation. The more you get them through scary moments without incident and in a positive way, the more they trust and learn to let go of their anxiety.

Having the ability to ask them to do many things gives you a better chance of diagnosing a physical problem as well. If our horse has a limp and we want to learn whether its a foot, joint, or muscle problem. If we have the ability to ask for some precise movements, then we can narrow it down. An example of this is, if the horse limps, and you can ask them to walk straight, back up, turn on the haunches, turn on the forehand, and stand still but shift there weight to be carried mostly on any one leg of your choosing. Then you have a lot of ways to ask them where the problem is. If there is heat or swelling you can find the problem easily. If there is not then you will need to ask them. If they have a hard time putting weight on a leg then you know which leg is the problem. to find out if its a joint or muscle issue you would ask them to load the muscle and not effect the joint and then avoid affecting the muscle while asking for an easy move that affects the joint. Each joint should be tested individually. Whichever is harder for them to do, that is where the problem lies. If you and your horse do not have this type of communication and they refuse or don't understand your request. Then it can be very difficult to figure things out. Of course it is wise to seek out help from a vet, farrier or hoof specialist but these things can still help you help them get a better answer and understanding of the problem.

Thank you for reading. I hope you enjoyed the topic. If you have anything to add please feel free to do so in the comment section. Thanks Again.