The Horse World’s well-meaning “Ivory Towers”

The term “Ivory Towers” refers to a place of secluded learning where practical matters are treated with elitist detachment. It’s another way of saying that researchers, with all their formulas and figurin’, are out of touch with reality.

But we’re noticing a welcome trend lately in equine science – an increased interest in holding popular horse methods up for some controlled scrutiny.

MontyRoberts_3It’s great news for the horse-loving public. Not coincidentally, as consumers we’re becoming more and more interested in seeing the proof in the pudding. We’ve become a nation of ingredient reading, Google searches, and Do-It-Yourself diagnoses. And we’re less and less interested in opening our wallet for, as one researcher stated “unproven, incorrect explanations of horse behavior.”

Most conspicuously, researchers seem to be aiming their guns at the likes of Monty Roberts and Clinton Anderson.

In their examination of “catch-ability” for instance, UPenn researchers panned Monty Roberts’ method (although he remained unnamed).
In another review of round pen work, Roberts was named as the target. But it could have just as likely been Anderson, who likes to work horses towards what he calls a partnership but is really more like submission.

clinton_easyboot_epic1While it’s great that academics are finally considering what’s going on in every-day barns, we can’t help but think of these projects as a bit like picking on a runt. It’s easy and only shows off your own lack of understanding.

If you’re going to scrutinize a pro, test someone regarded highly among his fellow trainers.

I’m guessing it won’t be Roberts or Anderson.

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