Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Horses Never Forget Human Friends

This great article by Jennifer Viegas was originally posted on Discovery.com.

Human friends may come and go, but a horse could be one of your most loyal, long-term buddies if you treat it right, suggests a new study.

Horses also understand words better than expected, according to the research, and possess "excellent memories," allowing horses to not only recall their human friends after periods of separation, but also to remember complex, problem-solving strategies for ten years or more.

The bond with humans likely is an extension of horse behavior in the wild, since horses value their own horse relatives and friends, and are also open to new, non-threatening acquaintances.

"Horses maintain long-term bonds with several members of their family group, but they also interact temporarily with members of other groups when forming herds," explained Carol Sankey, who led the research, and her team.

"Equid social relationships are long-lasting and, in some cases, lifelong," added the scientists, whose paper has been accepted for publication in the journal Animal Behavior.

Ethologist Sankey of the University of Rennes and her colleagues studied 20 Anglo-Arabian and three French Saddlebred horses stabled in Chamberet, France. The scientists tested how well the horses remembered a female trainer and her instructions after she and the horses had been separated up to eight months.

The training program for the horses consisted of 41 steps associated with basic grooming and medical care. For example, the horses had to remain immobile in response to the verbal command "reste!" which is French for "stay." The horses also had to lift their feet, tolerate a thermometer inserted into the rectum and more. When a horse did as it was instructed, the trainer rewarded it with food pellets.

With tasty rewards, the horses "displayed more 'positive' behaviors toward the experimenter, such as sniffing and licking," the researchers wrote. Horses do this as a sign of affiliation with each other, so they weren't necessarily just seeking more food.

The scientists added, "Horses trained without reinforcement expressed four to six times more 'negative' behaviors, such as biting, kicking and 'falling down' on the experimenter."

Nevertheless, after the eight months of separation, the horses trained with food rewards gravitated towards the same experimenter. The horses also seemed to accept new people more readily, indicating they had developed a "positive memory of humans" in general.

"From our results, it appears that horses are no different than humans (in terms of positive reinforcement teachings)," according to the researchers. "They behave, learn and memorize better when learning is associated with a positive situation."

While people often train dogs in this way, also using verbal commands, Sankey and her team point out that "the majority of horse-riding training is based on tactile sensations -- pressure from bits, movements of riders' legs, weight change in the saddle."

Since "horses are able to learn and memorize human words" and can hear the human voice better than even dogs can, due to their particular range of hearing, the scientists predict trainers could have success if they incorporate more vocal commands into their horse training programs.

Jill Starr is president and founder of Lifesavers Wild Horse Rescue, a non-profit that provides refuge, training and adoption placement for otherwise slaughter-bound wild mustangs and domestic horses.

Starr told Discovery News that she's observed horses responding well to verbal commands, such as "trot," but she still feels "horses and people get along better if the person doesn't chatter, since this causes the individual to have greater awareness of body language that is more familiar to horses."

She, however, agrees that horses are loyal, intelligent and have very long-lasting memories -- of both good and bad experiences.

Starr said, "Horses can be very forgiving, but they never forget."

Wild Horses Respond to Native American Drumming : Discovery News

Wild Horses Respond to Native American Drumming : Discovery News

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Tuesday, April 20, 2010

May Classes at Earth Lodge

The Crystalline Club
1st Monday of each month, 6 - 8 PM
(5/3, 6/7)
Every month we have a guided meditation to show you how to “speak” with your stone’s inner spirit, you will receive a new stone to work with and enjoy, and we’ll talk about our experiences with the previous month’s stone, what happened over the month and discuss how it worked with us. Would you like to join us for next month’s class? Email us to register and we’ll have a new and special stone waiting for you. Stones will tend to be the more rare and unusual gemstones, stones that most people haven’t heard of or worked with — each month will bring a new experience and shift your reality to a different level. Cost of the stones is included in the monthly club fee.
Pre-registration is required so that we can have a stone available for you.
Club fee: $25 (includes stone)
Please note: if you would like to work with the stones but can not attend our meetings, just let us know and we will have the stone and that month’s handouts available for you for $15. Or wait a month, and work with the stone as a crystal essence, available for sale on our website http://www.earthlodgeherbals.com/.

Shamanic Journey Circle
This circle meets on the second Thursday of each month from 6-8 PM (5/13, 6/10) and is led by shamanic energy healer and author Maya Cointreau.
Commune with your guardian spirits and power animals, journey to power places of wisdom and healing, and experience new levels of Spirit. Shamanic journeys are meditative visualizations, or miniature vision quests, that allow you to access divine wisdom through your subconscious mind. At each open circle we drum, journey twice, and share our experiences. Bring a drum or rattle, pen and paper, something to lie on and an eye mask. Beginners welcome. $15

Reiki Share
(5/7, 5/21, 6/4, 6/18)
This community-inspired Reiki Share meets every other Friday from 11am-1pm and is open to all Reiki practitioners, whether you are a Master or just beginning. Everyone who comes gives and receives, building their Reiki as well as new friendships. The share often begins with 2-4 people working on a person on the table for 10 minutes, then sharing views of what they felt. Then we move on to the next person, until all at each table have experienced the healing for 10 minutes. We find the sharing of perceptions provides useful learning and affirmation on our intuitive physical and ethereal scanning. Earth Lodge has a table for our use, but as the group grows, we may need some to bring their tables. $10 Donation for use of the space, which is regularly cleared, empowered and blessed by the healers at Earth Lodge.

Drum Circle (FREE)
3rd Wednesday of each month, 6 PM
(5/19, 6/16)
Bring a drum or a set of rattles if you have one. All Ages. Heartbeat native american style drumming.

Dream Circle (FREE)
4th Monday of each month, 6 PM
(5/24, 6/28)
Each participant will bring one dream to share and discuss. It can be an old dream, if current dreaming is minimum. In time, dreaming will increase, as one looks forward to the monthly circle and becomes more involved with their dream circle. Experience with dream circles shows that dreaming becomes richer, more intuitive, more prophetic, and provides more messages from Source, one’s higher self, and the subconscious. Each participant assesses their own dream’s meanings, with suggestive ideas from the Circle. Sandra Cointreau leads the circle.

Cinema Spirit Night : The Celestine Prophecy
7 PM screening, with optional discussion to follow
Cinema Spirit Night lets us share movies with soul with like-minded peers in a cozy home setting. Come relax, eat popcorn and enjoy refreshing herbal teas while you sit back and enjoy spiritual cinema. After the movie stay a while and discuss the message of the movie, or feel free to quietly go home and ponder on your own or with family. Space is limited, so please do call or email and let us know if you plan to come. And feel free to bring any additional snacks you might like :)
About the movie: Disillusioned and temporarily rudderless, John Woodson is about to experience a dramatic and profound metamorphosis. Through a mysterious set of coincidences, he finds himself on an adventure to Peru in search of ancient scrolls, known as the Celestine Prophecy. The prophecy and its nine key insights, predict a new awakening that redefines human life and provides a glimpse into a completely spiritual culture on earth. Resistant at first, skeptical and unsure, John finds that each step he takes, each person he encounters leads him to a new awakening. It is only in this letting go that he finds his destiny and comes to understand the meaning that had escaped him when his adventure began.
Screening Fee: $5