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January 28, 2017: Conference: What goes Around comes Around

I used to go to academic conferences, so my attending this conference makes me feel like I’ve come full circle. As with academic conferences, there are a lots of like-minded people here. They are all dressed in accordance with that which they are doing. In the academic world, people dress to the nines. Here, at a non-academic conference, they are dressed trendy/sporty. The latter appear to be dressed casually, but I suspect that forethought went into their wardrobe selection.

As in the world of academe, all have lanyards with name tags. There are also faculty, volunteer, and new presenters. (I found a new attendee tag that I was to fasten to my name tag – I threw it away).

Typical Conference Room

And also, as in the world of academe, there is plenty of networking going on here. I have watched as a few people have looked over the shoulders of those they are talking to, in hopes of seeing someone who will further their career interests.

I remember going to my first academic conference. I was then a graduate student. I knew several people, this included my teachers and my classmates. Here, I know just two individuals, Claudia and June – I am sharing a motel room with them. I am thinking that if I work at it, I’ll make some friends here.

I went to a conference a few years ago, the Conference on College Composition and Communication. It was then as though I came out of deep freeze, for I wasn’t as technologically savvy as most of the people around me. The same here. There seems to me to be an over-reliance upon technology, and this has me baffled. For instance, we were given bags that have the conference program in it. However, most are glued to the schedule app on their cell phones. The down side of this is that they are less communicative.

As with academic conferences, there is a high degree of knowledge on the part of the presenters. I have attended (thus far) presentations by Ed Ramirez, an Animal Behaviorist and a big name in clicker training circles, and Alexandra Kurland, a big name in horse clicker training circles. Both were very audience-aware. Ramirez talked at length about knowing and adhering to rules, and then about breaking rules. His contention is that rules that govern positive reinforcement techniques are not absolute – those who have the requisite knowledge and experience can break them.

Alexandra Kurland is up there with Susan Harris (Centered Riding Instructor) and Robyn Hood (TTeam instructor) in terms of her knowledge base. She talked today about framing arguments in relation to clicker training, well knowing that many horse people are adverse to using positive reinforcement.

I came to this conference with a few questions, the most pressing being, how does one clicker train multiple horses? Kurland suggests, or rather rightly asserts, that horses are dangerous animals, and so in doing beginning clicker training work, one should put a barricade between themselves and the animal they are working with. She subsequently showed her audience how this might be done, in her use of videos.

It’s just another way we who train animals ought be thinking outside the box. I am eager to go home and try this out with my horses.

Next: 29. 1/28/17: A Conversation with Rover

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