by Dr. Marvin Marshall
How The Horse Whisperer Trains a Wild Mustang in 30 Minutes
A Lesson for Teachers and Parents
Adults can use a little horse sense.
Monty Roberts is a famous horse trainer--the model for the Robert Redford film, "The Horse Whisperer." The trainer conducts demonstrations of how he trains wild mustangs. Monty grew up in central California and, at age 12, started observing them. He now puts his observations and experiences with horses to work with humans. As with the strategies I share, his approach is one of noncoercion to effect behavior changes and improve relationships. The strategy is in direct contrast to traditional approaches of using coercion.
Here is how the horse whisperer trains a wild mustang within 30 minutes in front of hundreds of people.
He gives instructions to the audience and emphasizes that, during the demonstration, there can be no movement. He admonishes the crowd that there can be no sound of any kind--that if anyone needs to go to the bathroom to go then because everyone must be absolutely still during the training. Monty explains that the horse listens intently, and any sound can spook him.
The wild horse is then let into the arena. The horse gallops around the ring 5, 10, 25 times before realizing he cannot escape and that there is no threat to his safety. The initial reaction by the animal is one of fear. (Especially with young people, fear turns into hostility because being afraid is unpleasant.)
The human then puts on a stance of attack. Monty rears up on one foot, knee bent, arms above his head, torso crooked, and grimaces by showing his top and bottom teeth. The horse panics. He gallops around the ring until he again concludes that nothing is going to happen to him.
Monty returns to his usual demeanor.
Then the audience, on cue, simultaneously claps and hollers very loudly. The horse is spooked. He looks for safety.
Horses have the ability to classify. Classification means putting things into categories--things that are alike and different, in this case, safe or unsafe.
In addition, as social animals that live together, horses have a basic desire for belonging. They, like humans, relate with those with whom they feel safe.
After the arousal by the crowd and looking for a place of safety, the horse turns to and approaches the human. The trainer softly strokes the horse. The animal sought safety and found it.
Monty starts walking around the ring. The horse follows.
A few minutes later, another man--dressed just like Monty--enters the ring carrying a saddle and blanket.
This man, like Monty, must also be safe.
The horse trusts the man. The saddle is put on. The horse is walked around the ring. The horse is softly stroked. Safety has been reinforced. Monty mounts--and horse and rider continue walking around the ring.
The crowd goes wild!
Trust is really the foundation of any relationship. It assumes that you will be safe, that you will not be harmed.
With people, trust also carries with it an implicit message that the other person has your own best interests in mind. That is why we can accept criticism and even anger from those whom we trust. We know, deep down, that they really mean to help us.
Trust is an interesting quality because, once it is lost, it is hard to recapture. Many a relationship gasped its last breath on the words, "I just do not trust you any more."
To have optimum relationships, all parties must feel a sense of trust, a sense safety. The feeling must be that harm will not be forthcoming--physically, emotionally, or psychologically.
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Past Gazette Articles by Dr. Marshall:
- Ronald Reagan and the Art of Influence (June 2009)
- Discipline Is a Liberating Word (May 2009)
- Eliciting vs. Punishments (Apr. 2009)
- Habit vs. Awareness for the 3 Practices and for the Hierarchy of Social Development (Mar. 2009)
- How to Be Consistent (Feb. 2009)
- Teaching is an Art, Not a Science (Jan. 2009)
- Tapping Into Internal Motivation (Dec. 2008)
- People Do Better When They Feel Good (Nov. 2008)
- The Brain and Sleep (Oct. 2008)
- Using a Butterfly Analogy to Explain the Hierarchy of Social Development (Sept. 2008)
- 5 Classroom Tips (Aug. 2008)
- Discipline Without Stress, Inc. (July 2008)
- Visualization (June 2008)
- Promoting Responsibility - Or How Not To (May 2008)
- Immaculate Perception (April 2008)
- A System Is Superior To Talent (Mar. 2008)
- To promote responsibility, Elicit Rather Than Impose (Feb. 2008)
- Understanding Boys (Jan. 2008)
- Descartes' Error: I think; therefore, I am (July 2003)
- Metacognition -- Thinking about Thinking Is Essential for Learning (June 2003)
- Listening Lessons -- How to Help Kids Learn and Comprehend (May 2003)
- Approaches of Outstanding Teachers (Apr 2003)
- Using a Discipline Approach to Promote Learning (Mar 2003)
- Curriculum, Instruction, Classroom Management, and Discipline (Feb 2003)
- Learning and Relationships, The two are inseparable (Jan 2003)
- Accountability in Schools (Dec 2002)
- Suggestions For Motivation (Nov 2002)
- Given Names - When NOT to Use Them and when TO Use Them (Oct 2002)
- The Power Of Hierarchies (Sept 2002)
- Use the Language You Want Learned (Aug 2002)
- Observations From Last Year (July 2002)
- How The Horse Whisperer Trains a Wild Mustang in 30 Minutes (June 2002)
- Using Breath Management for Better Listening and Voice Preservation (May 2002)
- Reducing Stress By Promoting Responsibility--Rather than by Attempting to Manipulate Behavior (Apr 2002)
- Rules Vs. Expectations (Mar 2002)
- How to Achieve 100 Per Cent Student Participation (Feb 2002)
- Positivity, Choice, and Reflection Exercise for Students (Jan 2002)
- Learning Climate (Dec 2001)
- Reflection and Self-Evaluation (pt 3) (Nov 2001)
- Reflection and Self-Evaluation (pt 2) (Sep 2001)
- Reflection and Self-Evaluation (pt 1) (May 2001)
- The Empowerment Of Choice (pt 2) (Apr 2001)
- The Empowerment Of Choice (pt 1) (Mar 2001)
- Power Of Positivity (pt 2) (Feb 2001)
- Power Of Positivity (Jan 2001)
- Home Assignments (Dec 2000)
- Collaboration is the Key (Nov 2000)
- Classroom Meetings (Aug 2000)
Dr. Marshall's website: http://www.MarvinMarshall.com
Email Dr. Marshall: firstname.lastname@example.org
© Dr. Marvin Marshall, 2002.