Sunday, March 24, 2013

Could this be the (next) horse for me?

Meet "Steel Lass," a retired 12 year old thoroughbred racehorse. 

Jake (also very enthused about horses) made this video, which shows Steel probably enjoyed running on a muddy track ;) It starts AFTER she rolled in the big puddle, and shows how much fun she has playing in it:

Friday, March 15, 2013

Just making some movies...

You can make your own Pony Movie here: The Pony Mixer.

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Social Cognition and Animals

My next few posts will share some videos that pertain to non-human animal sentience, cognition, and learning. Though these videos are not specifically about dogs, I think you can appreciate them for the insights they offer into various species of "Others." 

The forces of anthropocentrism generally push people's conversations about non-human lives into a lumped category, where "animals" are collectively cast into a framework of understanding that is solely based upon comparisons with human beings. Identifying each species without down-casting comparisons, and acknowledging each individual within a given species as a distinct "someone," affords a deeper understanding of each creature--human and non-human--as important whole parts of the collective "we"--all living beings.

This video was filmed by Amos Bouskila, equine ethologist from Israel, during a visit at Learning Horse Farm in the Netherlands. I will present it to you in this order; first watch the video, and see what you think. Then read on, below the film clip, where I'll post author and equine zooanthropologist Francesco De Giorgio's explanation of what you'll have just seen:

"What do we mean typically for cognition? The process or set of processes by which an organism acquires knowledge or awareness of events, of the relationship between them, of the context, of new situations and uses the data collected to understand, learning to learn and solve problems. In this video we can see the bachelors horse band of Learning Horse Farm, Education & Research Center in the Netherlands, during the first approach in preparation for saddling of the younger named Sparta, in a social learning context. The human animal, Francesco De Giorgio, moves in the bachelor's dynamics without influence it. Sparta learns new sensations on the back, without linear, mechanicistic and conditioning pattern. He isn't isolated from the others, as it usually happens in the equestrian world, but rather social cognitively learned from his father and his uncles. Also notice the calmness of the horses despite the dynamics of the bachelor's game and how the horses break the dynamic to prevent that the interaction becomes too reactive. They stay in a conscious, cognitive inner state, making them well aware of the human presence that they take in account in their movements. Horses have a well-defined cognitive-social instinct, with a very well developed capacity of how to interact with other horses, and human. There behaviour becomes reactive in contact with the anthropocentric activities/training conditioning methods the human world is used to. We humans can and we must preserve the cognitive and social heritage of horses. More info on and on"