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Sunday, September 23, 2012

All or Nothing

Some days I feel like an old person. I feel especially old when I see what I like to think of as "the inherent fervency of the young, inexperienced and uninitiated" playing out day in and day out. Yes, back to me ol' nemesis, Facebook.  It seems that so much is all or nothing these days as people stand up and shout over and over again, ad nauseaum "THIS IS WHO I AM AND THIS IS WHAT I STAND FOR" in several repetitious venues. I am including myself here;-) Hey, it's what social media is for, is it not? Most of the time I kinda love it. I love my friends and love to see what they're on about. For real:-)

I feel all kinds of observy, even when I'm participating. I have certainly made my political opinions known. But part of being observy in earnest is to point that fickle finger of judgement to oneself first. What, exactly, has driven me the most crazy about the political nonsense? Easy answer: first and foremost the mean-spirited, sarcastic (and let's face it) often ignorant and repetitive tone, and I mean that on both sides. I'm an old person who has never seen so much "dumb and ugly" all in one place, I mean to such an over-the-top ridiculous degree that it's mind-blowing. And it's from BOTH sides. While it's true that one side has definitely gone extracurricular with it, both sides are guilty and I have been too. And it's entirely pointless. What's being passed around isn't real or helpful information, it's entirely disrespectful and it's only function, it's ONLY function, is to create a rift. Is that something I want to be a part of? Am I crass, mean, reactive, sarcastic or any of the other unpleasant adjectives I could attach to this kind of behavior? I have my moments, certainly, but as a rule I am better than that. I know better than that. I was RAISED better than that by good people who were far above that behavior.  It's easy to get caught up in the steady stream of nasty, but it feels bad and well, it's beneath me. Politics shouldn't be all-or-nothing; we should be cooperating. Now THAT is something that's really worth getting behind.

My other pet peaves involve, well, pets. I guess I'm less "peeved" and more mildly annoyed, but there's an "all or nothing" trend in animal (for me that's horses and dogs) training as well. I am old enough to see fads come and go and to see real information stick. Unfortunately, trends usually have this huge swing from one extreme (in this case compulsion training for dogs) aaaaaalllll the way over to the other side (all positive, all the time) before common sense kicks in and levels things off a bit. I'm not new so I've already been to both extreme ends of this learning curve but there aren't that many of us yet. And it's a bit trying sometimes. It's hard to explain "Hey, I was you, but fifteen years ago". If it was a "to each his own" thing it would be fine, but some days I'm seriously NOT in the mood to get lectured by an inexperienced pet owner who took a class or two. Like today. Another lecture about my prong collar from someone who clearly knows just enough to be sanctimonious about training methods to total strangers. *Headesk*. Apparently if I use a prong, I don't know anything about positive reinforcement training. Well, except that I've been doing it for almost 20 years, I remember when it was new and have developed my training techniques as our understanding (through doing back then) improved. But hey, whatever. I offered to hand the leash over to her just as a (well-timed) squirrel passed by, but she didn't seem interested. They never do;-) Some people don't understand the concept of "management tool" and assume 'compulsion training' at the very sight of a prong and are too hard-headed to see any point of view other than their own. Oh, I know all about it. I've been that person. I know these folks just haven't met "that" dog yet. Hopefully if and when they do, they'll evolve instead of 'managing' the dog into isolation or giving it up as a lost cause. Based on my personal observation, it's about 50/50. I try to adopt a "smile politely and walk away" philosophy, which fortunately I was able to do today. Barely.

What about horses? Well, there has certainly been an uptick in the "Natural Horsemanship" trend. This, fortunately for you all, I have no direct knowledge about. I've always been a "humane, classical" kinda girl, but am not above giving something new a try. I think if a person is experienced (or is working with someone experienced) no harm is likely to be perpetrated here. In fact, I did a bit of digging around and saw quite a bit of merit to some of the methods. I do love the focus on groundwork and relationship-building (though admittedly there is plenty of both in classical training as well). The biggest potential flaw I see in these systems is that inexperienced or timid people might try to work with a horse with nothing but videos for guidance. THAT is a recipe for disaster, and I've heard of results to that effect. In all fairness, any method is only as good as it's application, and inexperience+horses without real, experienced guidance is a bad, bad formula no matter what method you choose. I know folks who are all about the NH to the exclusion of all else, and I don't think that's for me, but it certainly brings me to my point (finally!):

Moderation is a beautiful thing, and you can't make good choices if you are only well-educated in one side of the argument. Thinking you know isn't knowing, reading or hearing lots and lots of stuff from people who come only from your own point of view isn't knowing, and hearsay and misinformation certainly aren't educational or helpful. If you want to stand firmly by your opinion fine, but at least take the time to learn about the REALITY of other points of view. Phew...I feel better:-)

Next time I review my favorite dog coat company, just in time for cold weather:-) Cozy Horse

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