Saturday, November 26, 2011
What do CIA interrogations have anything to do with horsemanship?
In either arena, torture or use of force doesn’t pay. Science shows us this much is true. You’ll get the terrorist or the horse scared and compliant but what good is it if his compliance is rooted in fear?
-- The terrorist will make up stuff.
-- The horse will freak out or shut down.
You don’t have to baby them, but for the horse to learn or for the terrorist to give up information, you have to let behavioral science work to your advantage.
Some folks translate this concept as being gentler. Not surprisingly, some tough guys (military men, cowboys) brace against being Gentle.
So I was happy when one of their own, Craig Cameron, spoke up. He’s met lots of men, he recalled at the recent Equine Affaire, who give their horses one cold, quick pat as an indication of praise.
He said: “C’mon! Really get your hands on that horse!
"A horses knows if you like him and a horse knows if you don’t like him!”
So don’t call it gentle. Call it effective. Call it positive reinforcement. It’s rooted firmly observation and experiment. That's science. And heck, science is enough manly, isn’t it?