Home > Dispatches > Daily Dispatches 2020 >Daily Dispatch #315

November 14, 2020: The Dog and Pony Show: Dogs AND Ponies

We attended agility class this morning. It was as I was assisting Shadow in touching a piece of carpeting with her front paws that I had an ah ha moment. I walked over to Pete, who was in a chair was resting his eyes, and said “it really is a dog and pony show,” meaning, I am working with canids and equines. Never thought I’d miss Nixon. Never thought I’d see the day I’d be doing this. It had always been one or the other. Now I am doing both.

The hardest part is managing my time. Today’s a good example. It’s a 45 minute trip to and from Better Companion, where our scheduled noon dog class is held. And

Tyra on the hunt for treats

class, what with setting up and taking down equipment takes an-hour-and-a- half. Add to this another half hour, one in which I hang out for a bit and watch the next agility class.

Today we got home at 2:45 p.m. I ate lunch then went outside and tended to the horses, chickens, and goats. Pete took Tinni and the dogs for a walk on our trails. It was starting to get dark when I finished up. Nevertheless, I set up the agility course and first worked with Tyra. Then I worked with Hrimmi. I didn’t do much because I knew that I was burning daylight.

My time was well spent. As I doled out more hay to the horses, I realized that I felt good about putting the theory that I’d been studying to practice. But at the same time, I couldn’t help but think that if I was working exclusively with horses or dogs that I’d be able to put more time into one or the other.

Most people can’t, this is why they choose to work with either dogs or horses, not horses and dogs.

I am doing this because I am at heart a cognitivist and very much enjoy seeing animals figure things out. I’m a dog and horse owner, so naturally I’m into the AND aspect of animal training. The AND centers around making some huge cognitive leaps. Differences abound. Dogs are predators. Horses are prey. Dogs are inside animals. Horses are outside animals. Dogs are eager to please. Horses are not eager to please. A dog can ride on a horse’s back. A horse can’t ride on a dog’s back. Similarities also abound. Dogs and horses can be educated to do various things. Dogs and horses will defend themselves if need be. Dogs and horses have no prefrontal lobes. Dogs and horses have body awareness. Dogs and horses don’t adhere to strict schedules but do like routine. Dogs and horses best learn when positive reinforcement is used by the handler.

I could go on. I should go on. My list, my first, is woefully simplistic. The similarities and differences need to be acknowledged and elaborated upon. This may end up being yet another ongoing research project. I don’t know. What I do know is that right now, I’m orchestrating a dog AND pony show.

Next: 316. 11/15/20: Inside, where it's Warm, Outside where its Cold

Horse Care Home About Us Dispatches Trips Alys's Articles