Learning Misc By Teddie Ziegler Listening Have you ever noticed that certain sounds, cues, or movements work the same, no matter what language, person or animal you are using it on? Think about it…if you see your child (or your animal) getting into possible harm’s way and you have to stop it immediately, the first thing you do is make a noise or sound. It usually sounds like a few loud grunts that in your mind mean “NO! Don’t do that”. It’s an instinctual “uh, uh, uh, uh” that comes out of your mouth before you can actually think about what words you wanted to say. It’s been my experience that these instinctual sounds of “No” work on children, adults, dogs, cats, horses, etc. All animals seem to have a natural code of conduct. I think this code of conduct is where some of our human instincts come from as well. Like the natural sounds we make when we are trying to stop something from happening. If someone raised their index finger and said “uh, uh, uh, uh”, the child, horse, or dog always knows exactly what you mean. Connecting Have you noticed how children are “natural” around animals and seem to magically connect and communicate with them? There seems to be a universal rhythm that children connect to that allows them to talk to animals. I have seen so many children around horses that simply ask a horse to move or come with them and the horse instinctually knows what the child means. Whether the child uses sound, the movement of their hand, or just looks at their horse, the horse always seems to completely understand. For most people it seems that this universal rhythm is lost somewhere between childhood and adulthood. Finding the inner child within and connecting and listening to nature taught me to connect with my horse at a much deeper level. Just spending quality time, in a peaceful way with my horses, has changed them, changed our relationship, and, ultimately, changed me. It was this “listening” and “connecting” with nature that allowed me to connect with my horse. This was the first step to being able to really start communicating with my horse at a new level, using herd behavior and body language. Communication I have spent many, many years watching my horses’ herd behaviors, listening to my horses’ body language, practicing both from a human perspective, and trying to see everything from my horses’ perspective. I feel that I have naturally evolved in my journey with horses and have found my authentic self, the same authentic self that I had when I was a child. The “Listening” and the “Connection” have evolved into better “Communication” with my horses and with all animals. As proof of this evolution, I have noticed that animals are coming into my life and asking for help. I had a beautiful black kitten jump into my truck and curl up in the passenger seat in the parking lot of a train station at midnight on Halloween evening. A baby bunny, which had been born on my birthday, came into my life in December and needed to be taken care of. I released her on Easter and Ginger (as I named her) still comes out to eat and visit with me when I’m with my horses. Not to mention the 30+ cats and kittens who have come in to my life in the past few years, literally up to my front porch, to ask for love and care. I’ve even had raccoons and skunks in need of care come right to my front door and tap on the glass for attention. Conversation Just today a baby crow came up to me as I was walking outside. At first I thought it was attacking me, loudly squawking with its wings out and its mouth open. Then I realized it was just walking (ok, hopping really) towards me asking for help, as it was very hungry. The crow’s tail had been chewed and it looked like he had gotten into a scuffle with a cat. He was just a fledgling, so he couldn’t fly yet. The crow stopped right at my feet and cried for food. I looked at him and told him that I was going inside to get some food and would come right back out. I quickly got some food and went back outside, and to my neighbor’s surprise; the crow was still there waiting for me. I sat down and wanted to make sure he felt safe. So I used another sound cue that most people and animals know…”shhhhh, it’s ok”. It seemed to calm him down. I think he could tell that my intentions were honest and true. I think animals can see through most people and are able to see true intentions and know a person’s heart. When I sat down to feed him, he jumped on my foot and let me hand feed him. He just knew that I had no poor intentions and would never hurt him. I just wanted to keep him safe and healthy. Some people say it’s “a MOM vibe”. This “Communication” leads to a personal “Conversation” that is still going on today. I still make him scrambled eggs for breakfast on the weekends and he flys in waiting for me. I then put him in a dog crate in order to keep him safe from the neighborhood cats. I fixed it up for the crow and will help him heal and release him once he can fly and keep himself safe. With nowhere to hide from the neighborhood animals, and not being able to fly or feed himself, this is his best hope. It’s all about “intentions”. I love all animals and it makes me very happy that they trust me and feel comfortable enough to come to me for help. I see my evolution, becoming a Certified Master Trainer began with “Listening”, which gave rising to “Connecting”, then evolving in to “Communication”, and then becoming a personal “Conversation” with animals.