Potentials of Interspecies Relationships

by Charles H. Mintzlaff

An evaluative dissertation contrasting the detrimental effects of relational and cultural traditions embodied in contemporary equine management and training versus an alternative paradigm.

~ Proclamation of Origin ~

I do hereby state that to the best of my knowledge and belief the following submission is of my own research, development and conclusive construct. I further state that it contains no material previously written or published by another person or accepted for the award of any degree or diploma by any university or institute of higher learning (except for due acknowledgment).

~ Preface ~

A basic requirement for submitting a doctoral level thesis is that it offers a previously unknown original contribution to human knowledge. In the extreme absolute of that specific context, the following could possibly be exempted, as it does not offer any previously unknown facet of the human/equine relationship. Conversely, this dissertation explicates a comprehensive and thorough elucidation of what is undoubtedly one of the greatest transgressive oversights in the history of that interspecies relationship.

An attribute of any thesis is offering a solution to a particular environmental or societal conundrum. A nearly endless plethora of equine related suppositions from the subjective (if not ad hoc anecdotal) equine training continua to the impartial, empirical scientific affirmations of equine research scientists and ethologists are readily available in both literary and Internet context. Perception, observation and/or interactive association fall into two relatively distinct groups.

The first group consists of horse owners and trainers who view the Horse as a simple animal to be manipulated at will to their personal satisfaction. Various modifications of six thousand year-old dominance/submission formats are utilized that still prove to be deleteriously counterproductive in varying degrees. And that is to be expected as heretofore no truly viable alternative to this basic methodology of equine manipulation has ever been offered. An overabundance of evidentiary proof of the continuing failure of this methodology can be found in any equine related magazine or Internet group list, all of which are filled with an increasing rather than decreasing number of generationally repetitive ‘behavioral horse problems.’

The second group consists of equine ethologists and research scientists who must perceive the Horse objectively as an observable specimen of the Animalia Kingdom (Equus Caballus). And that is to be expected as the credibility of their observations must refrain from any possible hint of personified anthropomorphism. Accordingly, anthropomorphism has been eschewed while dogmatic anthropocentrism has been the accepted norm. Consequently, the benefits that might be gained from a broader perspective have seldom if ever been recognized or appreciated.

While those highly respected individuals of academia have lent indispensable opportunities for increasing our knowledge base and that of a more all encompassing, in-depth understanding of equine behavior and herd dynamics, no singular practicable solution to the aforementioned ‘horse problems’ has yet been evidenced.

~ Abstract ~

The ”Laws of Chaos” dictate that the more complex the problem, the simpler will be the solution. Few (if any) of our present day problematic conundrums could ever equal the perplexing consequences of human/equine interaction and the resulting generationally repetitive ‘horse problems.’ Thus a singular solution to those problems would in and of itself have to be extremely simplistic in nature and completely oppositional to commonly accepted perceptions of equine manipulation and training. The contention that all previous and current forms of prefunctionary equine training are a perfect foundation to predispose adversarial, confrontational resistance and the plethora of generationally repetitive ‘horse problems’ is easily proven.

This contention may potentially present a possible difficulty of assessment for some examiners. Consequently, a true appraisal of this dissertation will be dependent not only upon their previously acquired academic knowledge and/or interactive personal observation/experience but equally as much, if not more so, on their mental acuity to objectively ascertain and extrapolate potential concepts that are completely contrary to currently accepted beliefs and practices.

Not bound by the rules of Equine Ethology, but given more to the embodiment of Equine Etiology, the following is submitted for matters of simple clarification and a commonality of basic understanding. Affiliated pairing, nonsexual bonding, peer attachment, mutually beneficial coalitions and preferred associates are the sincere attempts of ethologists to refrain from the taint of anthropomorphism. In contention, (with no intent of epistemological critique) that while personal and cultural beliefs may influence our perceptions and interpretations of both artificial and natural phenomena, there are universal commonalities of associative human behavior that cross all boundaries of language, race, nationality and culture. Whether realized through observation or personal experience in Argentina or England, China or Spain, or anywhere else in the world, an intimate, inter-reliant friendship shared by two humans is incontestably axiomatic. I would further submit that the fruitional matrix of such an emotionally intense interdependency is impervious to the external forces of peer critique, regardless of whether it is shared by two humans, two horses or a horse and a human.

*This is especially true when the depth and intensity of an equine friendship (Peer Attachment) is so great that it supercedes one of the horse’s strongest survival instincts. Thus a comparative explication defining this very intimate prototypical equine relationship would be crucial to ascertaining its true potential for the full benefit of both human and horse.

While the Horse has remained instinctually, culturally, emotionally and mentally unchanged for six thousand years, the number of generationally repetitive difficulties involved in the interactive manipulation and prefunctionary training of Equus Caballus has grown extensively within that same period. (Numerous equine rescue organizations report an alarming growth and disproportionate ratio of donated horses with ‘behavioral problems’ over the standard norm of those with physical disabilities or owner related personal/financial difficulties).

As Equus Caballus has remained conspecifically unchanged for well over six thousand years, this would strongly suggest one of several possibilities: (1.) The human species lacks the analytical/perceptual capacity and/or mental acuity to devise and actuate preventative measures to alleviate the multitudinous perennial/generational interspecies conflicts (horse problems). (2.) We have become so singular in our thinking affected by the subconscious oppression of relational and cultural tradition that we are unmindfully oblivious to a psychological indication of insanity being the repetition of the same actions over and over while expecting different/better results (Non Compos Mentis). (3.) Extremes of avarice and/or the ego-driven need for societal/peer recognition and/or material wealth have hopelessly numbed our senses of reasoning and logic beyond any possibility of recompense.

~ Acknowledgments ~

To each of you who, through the years, gave that essential breath of life to body, mind, heart, soul and spirit when the foreboding darkness threatened, I will be forever grateful.

And can only thank you from the bottom of my heart for your undying support.

Semper Fi

~ Dedication ~

Dedicated to Nikkita, who showed me more patience, understanding and compassion, than any human being could ever possibly deserve.

God Bless you Nikki, wherever you are.

~ Prologue ~

*Note of Precedence. In the entire history of the human/equine relationship and all previous evidentiary conclusions related to Equus Caballus, no one ever before has delved into the specific development of the Equine Peer Attachment relationship. To a great extent, that is to be expected, as Equine Peer Attachment and adolescent/adult ‘play’ seem to have taken an ethological-research ‘backseat’ to aggressiveness and normal intra-herd dynamics. Whether the determining factors involved were governed by a lack of specific funding requests, ease of observation or a dominant fascination of the human ego for aggression and control would be impossible to ascertain with any degree of certainty.

Nor has anyone ever before formulated a sequential, step-by-step protocol that allows a human being and a horse to share an intimate interspecies relationship equal to (or greater than) the most intense levels of Equine Peer Attachment.

The following dialectic is offered for examination to specific individuals encompassing a broad-spectrum population of both the scientific community and horse world. Submission in the present format is in deference to those avid members of the intelligentsia whose empirical enlightenments continue to make the lives of horses everywhere less abusive and more tolerable.

The commonly accepted scientific method of validation has four steps:

  1. Observation and description of a phenomenon or group of phenomena.
  2. Formulation of a hypothesis to explain the phenomena.
  3. Use of the hypothesis to predict quantitatively the results of new observations.
  4. Performance of experimental tests of the predictions by several independent experimenters and properly performed experiments.

A six year field study of this alternative paradigm has been conducted in Australia, England, Scotland, Germany and the United States culminating in a verifiable one hundred percent success rate. Test subjects varied in age from weaned foal to twenty-five years old and encompassed all genders, various breeds and life experiences of domesticated normalcy. Test subjects also included various extremes of previous life experiences including extreme mental, emotional and physical abuse (direct causal being current domesticative management and training procedures) that resulted in hyper-reactive shy/frightened and extremely lethal hostile/aggressive stereotypes.

Evaluators ranged from all walks of life and academic standing. Due to the limited program staff of this study, test subjects and evaluator variables were too multitudinous for factorial design specifics. But in all cases, efficacies of perceptual attitude, willing compliance, cognitive awareness, mutual trust, associative rapport and reciprocal communicative factors were enhanced beyond the personal experience and expectations of the evaluators.

This dissertation is the result of over 25,000 hours of observable and interactive study.
It will be completed for examination on September 15, 2006.