I know quite a few of you here have heard of Ren Hurst, the woman who is speaking out and walking her talk to help us gain clarity and grow closer in our relationships with horses and each other. I met her some years ago and I have seen that she has what it takes to help us evolve to the next level of consciousness. If you’re ready to deepen your understanding of our human condition please take 42 minutes to watch this interview by Abby Lodmer.
– Stormy May
Imagine living a life filled with compassion every day as you are surrounded by your loved ones who relate to you on deep and profound levels. Compassion is something we all aspire to, but are we taught how to access it? Maybe we were taught by our parents or school teachers, but did they really know the most effective ways to cultivate compassion on a daily basis? If you’re serious about living a compassionate life, the Compassionate Communication course will give you the exercises and support to shift your world into one of rich connections.
Here are four accounts of how the Compassionate Communication with Horses course has helped others.
Participating in Compassionate Communication with Horses was a momentous experience for me. In a generous and supportive style Stormy May presents a series of exercises that brought accountability, structure and balance to my previously self directed and perhaps haphazard, though serious, endeavor to mindfulness and positive relationship development.
With the support of scientific data and years of personal practice, Stormy has distilled an overwhelming array of methods for achieving peace of mind, happiness and a fulfilling life with ourselves and others into a practical and doable set of foundation practices that are suitable for the utmost beginner, as well as anyone who has tried various techniques but never put it all together or stayed with it long enough feel the full benefits.
The class work notably improved my approach to conflict resolution with skills for analyzing perception in myself and in any relationships, whether with humans or non-humans. It significantly simplified my concerns for attention and enriched my abilities to educate others. I had come a long way with years of self-development on my own, but working through this course I saw great progress in only four weeks. I whole heartedly recommend this course to anyone struggling with desire for results.
Donna Condrey-Miller, Nevzorov Haute Ecole Representative, California
Since participating in Stormy May’s Compassionate Communication course, I have seen an improvement in family and animal relations, as well as my health. My house is more organized, health improved; I feel less stressed. How, did this happen? Not by magic, though magical thinking did help. Looking back, I realize that the magic happened by changing my point of view. It was a pleasant surprise to discover that by simply changing my perspective on a given situation, I could shift, not only my response, but how others respond as well. If you can accept the premises that most of our actions are the result of rote, unconscious, preconceived ideas and thoughts, then this course will work for you. While this is likely not a new revelation to most people, making changes without support is extremely difficult. Impossible for me. By employing the exercises presented in the course, exploring the true meaning behind our perceptions, I have seen a perceptible change in my consciousness. Just by looking.
In addition, this course helped me get through difficult times, since setbacks on both a personal and financial basis occurred within a month after enrolling in the course. Equipped with a new perspective, these setbacks became challenges. Annoyances became gifts. While the course won’t prevent life’s difficulties, it does help you to cope and master whatever comes your way. Another collateral benefit of Stormy’s coursework is happiness. While happiness is always present, the exercises helped me to capture these fractured moments of happiness.
In sum, it is possible to achieve happiness and establish better communication with family, friends, and of course, animals, through employing simple tools and exercises laid out by Stormy May. For those willing to pull back the curtain to your consciousness, and practice mindfulness, then I highly recommend this course. I have found it has increased my communication with animals, family and friends, not to mention improved my health and appreciation for the fleeting joyful moments of life.
Life pulls us into a trap, you have to make a living, we’re fed things through the media, you have to have that and you need to do that, it’s overwhelming, it takes your whole life but this course showed me a way out. This course with the perspectives and different perceptions, I am seeing where I am and how I have been stuck in so many ways and I’m catching myself in it, and it is absolutely amazing. When I get into the exercises and apply them, it makes a difference. So many times throughout the day now I catch myself and collect myself and make new choices. I wish all people had the opportunity to take this course. This course was at the right time for me to give me the tools to take that next step.
This really is giving me things to do that are shifting me out of the rut I was in, and I’m noticing it around me too, not just in me. I’m seeing different opportunities I hadn’t seen before. It is the first course that has really sunk in. I am actually seeing the change and the transformation and others are seeing it in me too. And it’s not just me, it’s how I am relating to other living beings and my perception of the world. It works!
I was fortunate enough to be one of the first people to experience Stormy May’s course “Compassionate Communication with Horses”. This course gave me the tools to be compassionate not only with horses, but all living things including humans! Learning how to be in the moment, letting go of things that are not in my best interest, and exploring my perspectives and beliefs are a few examples of where the course took me. Stormy is an amazing teacher that encouraged me with her gentle questions and observations. This course is for anyone looking to change where they are in life, and willing to commit to themselves for a more compassionate way of being.
Are you ready to live a more compassionate life? Click here for more details and to schedule a free course interview with Stormy May.
Enjoy this preview of a new video shot in New Zealand on February 13, 2017 as Ren Hurst presented a full day workshop outlining the 13 principles to restore connection to our wild wisdom. The full workshop video will be available soon.
Practical steps to end exploitation and control of others in order to experience unconditional love in our everyday lives. Unravel the mystery of what draws us to horses and the other animals we love. Learn how to use our relationships to create a peaceful world. Here is a two part interview of Ren Hurst by Marlene Narrow of Vegan Nation
Part 1 February 10, 2017
Part 2 February 17, 2017
Learn more about Ren’s work at the New World Sanctuary Foundation website.
Have you ever thought about why we domesticated animals and how truly loving our relationships to them are? We bring animals into our lives for our own reasons. We have them because we want them to do something for us. What I think most people are actually seeking with animals is a heart connection. I believe that most people have animals in their lives to get a source of unconditional love that they may not have for themselves already. Training and controlling is not the way to experience unconditional love with an animal. It’s the opposite of unconditional love.
So we’ve got these animals in our lives, that’s fine, they’re here, they need to be taken care of, but we have a choice on how we want to interact with them in that situation where they’re already in a controlled environment. What we typically do is we train, and we use conditioned responses and we use treats and we use manipulation or coercion to get them to do what we want them to do because at the end of the day we have been taught that that’s what to do with animals. If we’re being completely honest, domestication itself is the epitome of control and control has nothing to do with love.
When you remove all forms of controls while also setting very kind boundaries so they’re not doing whatever they want whenever they want, something really transformative happens. What we think of as a domesticated dog or a domesticated horse or a pig or a cat, whatever species, when they truly are allowed to have a mentally free state where they’re able to be who they are in the fullest sense, without fear of being hurt or neglected, they turn into something entirely different than what we’re used to.
What we’re used to is this conditioned being in front of us that is conditioned based on how we control it in whatever subtle or not so subtle form depending on what you do, but it changes everything. It can actually change who you are as a person to choose to practice this unconditional way of relating that really requires you to set very solid boundaries but without making anybody feel wrong or shamed for being who they are.
by Ren Hurst, founder of the New World Sanctuary Foundation
Learn more in an interview with Ren where she talks about these ideas and more from her book, Riding on the Power of Others. Also, don’t miss your opportunity to invest in the creation of a safe, healthy place for the animals of the New World Sanctuary Foundation to roam free, help is gratefully accepted! Find out more at the fundraising site: www.gofundme.com/helpanimalsbefree .
Please help support the birth of this new world for horses and humans by visiting the New World Sanctuary Foundation website at: newworldsanctuary.org .
When children play with dolls, they give voices to the bundles of cloth and plastic. They create stories, with lives full of worries and cares. They interact with the toys and play with them for hours.
I’m not talking about baby talk or varying the tones in our voices to elicit a response, that is a different discussion. I’m talking about the stories we tell each other and the horses about why something is happening, about what is going on.
Today, through YouTube and countless channels of self-published media we have a chance to peek at the private and public lives of millions of people who work with horses. When we do so, we can listen to many words being inserted into the soundtrack of a horse’s life. Here is a sampling of words from popular trainers as seen on YouTube.
“He knows better than to do that.”
“She’s being disrespectful.”
“He doesn’t want to be supple.”
“She’s going to try and trick you.”
“She’ll argue with you, argue with you and then when you give her a little reprimand and make her respond then she overreacts and acts like the world is going to come to an end.”
The curious thing is we tend to believe these stories. How many of these words do you agree with? Do you believe the horse was guilty of these accusations? How can we get closer to understanding what another being is trying to communicate?
When we can look at a horse and acknowledge her as a complete mystery, we gain access to a different perspective, an experience of life through another’s eyes. We become the students, learning from a race that has walked this earth far longer than we have.
Listen today to the words you speak for a horse, or a stranger at another table, a man in a car, or a dog. Listen to the words others speak to explain horse behavior, to nail down the mystery. You might be lead to a glimpse of the new world, beyond the safety of thinking we speak for horses, to the place where real horses speak and humans feel.
Excerpt from the book, “The Path of the Horse” by Stormy May.
Find out what it’s like to be an activist, a horse lover and a student of life.
Are aggressive human actions an effective way to modify behavior?
In 2012 dog trainer Cesar Millan worked with a dog, Holly, who had food aggression, a behavior also called resource guarding. In the session Cesar confronts Holly over a bowl of dog food. When she warns him away with a growl and snap, he hits her (or touches her on the neck depending on how you want to describe it) likely scaring, distracting, and showing her that he is also aggressive and capable of hurting her.
Next, he continues to push her away from the food with an intense stare and body posed to attack at any moment. Her body language in response could be described as “insecure” and “aggressive” depending on a person’s perspective at different times. After Holly relaxes for a moment and Cesar begins talking to the owner standing nearby, Cesar either absentmindedly or misreading the dog tries to put his hand on her nose and she snaps at him again. He withdraws his hand and then she lunges for it and gives him a serious bite, perhaps proving to herself in that moment that she is the more quick and agile one who should win the battle to get the food and be left alone. Guarding resources is a natural dog behavior but of course it is also unacceptable behavior according to humans who don’t want to be bitten.
You can see the video here:
Because aggression is part of animal behavior, does that mean it’s useful conduct in humans as well?
This video and others like it have created a division of public opinion with people either agreeing with Cesar and emulating his ways of matching aggression with aggression or disagreeing and finding non-violent ways to modify behaviors. A similar division is found among people working with horses. Behaviors such as biting, kicking, bucking, bolting and rearing are natural for horses yet can be dangerous to humans. Understandably, we don’t want horses that do these things around us. Do we solve these problems by proving to the horse that we can inflict intense pain quickly if she does something we dislike, or do we essentially ignore or separate ourselves from the undesirable behavior and reward behaviors we do like? This second method is known as positive training, as demonstrated in “clicker training” and lure reward methods.
Are our methods correction based or reward based?
In the human world, it’s a correction based belief that if we spank kids, have guns, nuclear weapons and the right to harm those who are engaging in aggressive behavior we will live in a safer world than if we lay down our weapons and wage peace, engaging in ways of helping each other get along.
An excellent article describing non-violent methods of dealing with resource guarding by Grisha Stewart of Ahimsa Dog Training says, “…the first thing we must do is not to see the issue as one of our dog engaging in ‘point scoring’ with ulterior motives of longer term control of his human pack, but rather as one of safety for ourselves. If we become drawn into physical combat with our dogs over possessions, as we will see later, we are more likely to cause ourselves a great deal of problems with our dogs in our day-to-day lives together than we are to teach them not to guard their toys or bones.“
There’s something profound in that, especially when I look at it as it might apply to humans, “…the first thing we must do is not to see the issue as one of a person engaging in ‘point scoring’ with ulterior motives of longer term control of other people, but rather as one of safety for ourselves. If we become drawn into physical combat with others over possessions, territory or ideology, we are more likely to cause ourselves a great deal of problems with people in our day-to-day lives together than we are if we teach and inspire reasons not to need to guard resources or opinions.”
Wow. Could this be the path to world peace?
If we look at the tools of correction based training (e.g. collars, leashes, bridles, guns, bombs and whips) they are more or less designed to cause pain, yet people using these devices almost invariably believe they are either minimally painful (a touch rather than a hit) or necessary pain needed to ensure the animal (or human) remains useful and sociable to other humans.
In an NBC interview in 2013 Cesar is asked, “Have you ever felt badly about doing something to a dog?” He replied, “No, no, no, I’m not doing it to hurt him, it’s not my intention, it’s not the whole essence of what I do.”
Our history as well as many current training practices seem to prove aggressive human behavior does work to create less aggressive animals and perhaps it is responsible for the level of peace that we have achieved. According to a video published in 2014, Cesar adopted Holly and has developed a relationship with her that looks kind and friendly. After all, horses typically seem to prance contentedly between bridle and spur, right? Isn’t that just the world we live in, the way things work?
Video of Cesar and Holly 2 years after the bite:
The majority of people, and certainly the ones in most leadership positions, seem to believe that correction based control is an acceptable option and sometimes the best way to maintain safe households, safe communities and a peaceful world. We all do it. Domestic violence is the most prevalent type of violence in the world. Many people believe in our right to hurt others. We bear arms and support military and police forces to keep us safe. Maybe it’s because we haven’t yet found a better alternative. Are there positive ways to modify human and animal behavior that might work better than correction based methods or will violence always necessarily be on the path to peace?
Doesn’t it seem like a good thing to try to find as many non-violent solutions as possible?
When a person studies and begins to understand she can end up with a safe and trained animal using positive techniques it’s easy to get drawn into believing that correction based training is harmful and that those who practice it are “mean” or abusive. Calling Cesar abusive is abusive and a form of correction based training. Compassion includes the understanding that he is using the techniques he believes to be the most gentle and humane to ensure safe and healthy lives for both humans and dogs.
It’s time to get past name-calling and realize the winner in the future will be the one who gathers with everyone on the same team and keeps us safe from human aggression in any form. We all want the best for the animals; we all want the best for our entire human family.
I’m doing my best to stop calling people names, blaming others and believing that any level of violence will lead to lasting peace. I know it’s important for me to spend time doing the things that really matter, ensuring my family lives in a peaceful environment. I want to live in a non-aggressive world so I am choosing to creatively find non-aggressive ways to get along with other residents of this planet.
Luckily, we don’t have to lobby to cancel Cesar’s show, change gun laws or overthrow the government if we believe positive actions are more effective than corrections. We have infinite opportunities available to instigate positive solutions to disputes in our own lives. As long as we haven’t found peaceful solutions, people will continue to use aggression.
It starts at home, with my own ability to see what I am doing and modify my own behavior to meet aggressive acts with compassion and empathy and to inspire in myself and others behavior that connects us and makes us feel safe and comfortable with each other. Beyond that, it’s important to support and empower others who are committed to peaceful solutions.
I’m ready for a future where it is considered mental illness to believe that hurting or scaring another will solve a problem and make our world better. In the new world, people with this illness will not be leaders; they will not be allowed to be with others they could harm. Instead, they will be surrounded with people serving them with compassion and understanding.
Stormy May is the producer of the documentary “The Path of the Horse” and author of the book of the same name.
Someone sent me a link to an article written by a horse trainer warning people about loving horses so much that they spoil a horse and create a dangerous animal. The person who sent me the link thought perhaps I could set the author straight about the value of being loving towards horses. Instead, I ended up agreeing with the author’s assessment that many horses become dangerous because of inappropriate and largely unconscious human actions.
The author wasn’t addressing the value of correction based training versus positive training, she was simply pointing out that people are misusing the sentiment of “loving” the horse as an excuse for not learning how to ensure that when horses are around humans, we both understand that nobody wants to get hurt.
It seems obvious that more people are hurt by horses than hippos because we have this concept that we love horses and are entitled to live in close contact with them. We breed them, we keep them in stables, we ride them and when they don’t do what we want, we typically sell them. In this paradigm, it’s a disservice to the horse to think you’re being kind and loving when you’re actually teaching and reinforcing dangerous behavior which often leads to a lower quality of life for the captive horse.
Today, the love for horses that has developed through my life-long passion no longer looks like wanting to ride or keep horses in stables. The love that I experience whispers for horses to be free to live lives of their own choosing. As much as my resources can support, I give horses this freedom.
The horses in my care today were not born in a wild herd, they are products of another human’s desire and captive breeding but that doesn’t mean that their lives need to continue to be molded to serve humans. I do need them to be safe around people on the ground so I use the most loving and conscious techniques gathered over decades to ensure we understand each other and are kind and careful with one another. That’s my job as a human guardian and the least I can do to express my gratitude for being able to share the earth with these noble animals who don’t owe me anything.
Stormy May is the producer of the documentary “The Path of the Horse” and author of the book of the same name.
Stormy May discusses riding, bits, shoes and what she has learned from listening to horses on the Freedom of Species radio show. The show also includes an interview with Ward Young of the Coalition for the Protection of Racehorses. Don’t miss these interviews!