Understanding Otherness is a Lifestyle

  • Posted on: 30 August 2015
  • By: Jose

Dedicated to Ethics
Dedicated to Coherence
Dedicated to Wellbeing
Dedicated to A changing coexistence

If we want to grow and develop in our understanding of other animals, it is not enough to expand our knowledge of their behavior. It is not enough to acknowledge a broader “behavioral spectrum” and know how to conceptually recognize more details in behavior, if we are not willing to start learning to see and to experience each and everyone of them as individuals with their own needs, preferences and pleasures, and their own ability to understand the world, look for information, listen to themselves and to make choices. We need to learn how to recognize all this in every moment, not only when we observe from a distance, when they are among each other, but also in their interaction with us.

So if we want to understand horses as socio-cognitive animals, with strong affiliative interests, we have to learn what affiliative means, also in the interaction with us. We have to learn again ourselves what affiliative is: We have to learn how to enjoy and cherish a moment of a soft nose exploring us, but without loosing the dialogue in self-centered pleasure. Learn how to be equally open if a more physical exploration is expressed in a nibble, a bite and how to step out of contact, preserving the exploring-intention, if we don’t know how to experience it, instead of putting out boundaries expecting a horse to respect that. We have to learn how to share moments instead of putting ourselves central in the interaction. And most of all, learn how to facilitate and preserve their quality of life among each other–as a herd. Because the quality of their interaction with us is important, but the herd relationships are fundamental.

It is unthinkable for both myself and for Francesco De Giorgio to teach people and to guide towards a better understanding if there is no commitment towards evolution. If they are not ready to put in discussion things we still take for granted. To truly learn about horses needs and pleasures and be committed to that knowledge, means changing in our coexistence. Because anthropocentric pleasure is not progress, as there is no such thing as being a bit more affiliative, so you can still train (manipulate) another sentient being, but with your mind more at ease. Understanding Otherness is a lifestyle, not something you can apply as a medicine, or a trendy new integrator in an unhealthy diet.

Our current group of Learning Horse students, who have just started their Learning Animals-study in the relationship dynamic between human and nonhuman animals, is a very dedicated, passionated, group, and after two days already promising and skilled to further develop their own activities and interactions in daily life as veterinarians, as volunteers in sanctuaries, as facilitators in interspecies relationships, care-givers and therapists, starting from awareness and values. Today is day three, and change, after the last moon of intense light before changing towards winter-time, is tangible in the air, and it will shine on in the coming darker months, towards a new time of evolution.

I’d like to thank all of you of Improntamica, for the way you have incorporated your study path in daily life. And thank all of you of the new Learning Horse edition, for being able to resonate with your own values, and with a modern understanding of animal quality of life. Looking forward to the next months !

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Photo above: Andrea Gaspardo