Monday, October 18, 2010

100th Monkey Principle

Have you heard of the 100th Monkey Principle? In a nutshell - quick and dirty - meaning not referenced at all...see that is the beauty of a blog versus the book, anyway it refers to some study about monkeys on some island learning to wash their clam shells before eating them. The clever youngsters figured it out and then of course the older ones gradually figured out that sandy clam shells weren't as nice to eat as washed ones. Now the cool part is that once a certain number were doing it, monkeys on other islands who had no contact with these monkeys that learned this behavior just all started washing their sandy clams. Cool eh. Do you think the information gets into 'monkey consciousness' and then is available to all.

Herd, flock, pack, pod - I think they all have their group consiousness. So in our herd - we have been seeing this principle in action. If a couple of horses offer something new, it could be coming in with no halter on, head lowering when riding, opening gates (darn), then be prepared for your horse to suddenly just do it. This happened to me last week. My horse Sid is a Skeptic (DLAA) so not usually outgoing or the volunteering type and he did a big offer in coming in without a halter on. Now the first horse that did this (Star) did it in small incremental steps, coming a little further each time, finally getting to the gate and then forgetting what they were doing and eating grass once they were out in the yard and gradually over nearly a month they finally put the whole puzzle together and made it to the barn. Since then several horses have been offering this which makes their owners pretty much giggle with glee. So when my horse Sid who not long ago was hard to catch and suspicious of most things that stupid humans did, offered this I was taken totally by surprise. He just showed up, walked across the field to me and then proceeded to lead me down to the barn. At one point another horse was following and he snaked his neck out at him and told him to buzz off as he was on a date (see dating post). I was keeping up with him, he was not quietly following me in. When we got to the open barn door I asked him to wait while I put his halter on and he quietly responded. I was another one giggling with glee.

This again shows us that we do not need A and B to equal C as we used to in our old training. We do A - which in this case was hanging around out in the field with Sid, sharing space, sleeping on the hillside with him, loving him with no expectations and then BAM they decide to offer someting big. His next new move that evening was deciding how and where I should get on. We were having a group play date in the arena so no saddles, just mostly hanging out and socializing on the ground. He walked about and then went to the mounting block. He was not ready the first time so we walked off and when he went back again he stood at it and put his head around to the right which is his clicker training thing he does once I am on. So he initiated me getting on...yes maybe to get a cookie, but still a reach from what he was. We rode for a bit, mostly moguing (term from the Rock Star book where you allow 'Dominants' to do/go where ever they want). Then I got off and the next time I was sitting on some jump boxes, just resting and he comes into them sideways and again poses with his head to the right and waits for me to get on. Wow! Again I rode a bit and got off. The last time was especially funny as he crossed over some jump poles and then turned and posed and said 'get on'. I laughed and showed him that the six inch lift or pole was not really going to enable me to jump up on him. So A and B no longer equal C. You might have a goal of C, but how you get there may totally change.

So what else is floating around there in horse consciousness, just waiting to come out? It's a mystery. I am happy to wait for it to be revealed.

PS - If interested please do research on the 100th Monkey Principle. A scientist somewhere that spent years studying this would really appreciate it.


  1. I have similar experiences with my Wild Card. He has to decide in his own time that something's okay.

    I'm raising my first baby and he watches the older horses and emulates them. He continues to surprise me what he'll do if the older Boyz show him it's okay.

  2. Ahh Sid!
    Reminds me of Arik and the Clicker Training last year! We never worked on it at all with him, never even introduced it, and all of a sudden he's playing clicker games. how cute!!
    Really makes you wonder, doesn't it??