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IceHorse Info
By IceRyder

Icelandic Horse Information and Resources

Talking with the Animals
by Bill Thomas

Talking with The Animals by Bill Thomas is, in general, about tracking and photographing wild animals. However, the book contains quite a bit of information that can be applied to horses and some that is specific to horses. The following are excerpts and paraphrases from the book.

Communicating with Animals

"...very recently a new science [has] been developed to deal with the study of animal behavior.. We call it ethology."

"Especially fascinating are the ethological studies on how conscious animals are of their own behavior and...capable of choosing among options."

"Some...claim that vegetarians are able to establish greater rapport with animals simply because they smell differently."

"Grace Wiley...was proving the potency and effectiveness of her favorite rule of action in all relationship contacts: That all life, regardless of its form, classification, or reputation, will respond to genuine interest, respect, admiration, appreciation, affection, gentleness, courtesy, good manners."

"The science of ethology is based in part upon the philosophy that all life shares a kindred spirit, that indeed there is an intimate relationship between all forms of being."

"Dr. B. F. Skinner...showing how a knowledge of animal behavior can lead to greater understanding of human behavior. To know our to better know ourselves."

Animal Talk

" an important part in communication between all"

"The chemical emissions of humans are something we may have overlooked...[in communication with super-sensitive animals]."

"The ability to recognize...that all orders of life have some form of communication...that we can benefit by learning to read and correctly interpret...that communication, will make us...more fulfilled..."

The Role of Man in His Environment

"There was never a king like Solomon
Not since the world began,
Yet Solomon talked to a butterfly
As a man would talk to a man."

"Spirit. Oneness. Do we...understand anything at all about such things?"

"When we talk to animals, do we talk to them as King Solomon did? Do we treat them as equals, entitled to life just as much as we are...? Or do we talk down to them, treating them as inferior subjects that live to benefit our own existence?"

"Kinship with All Life, by J. Allen Boone...embodied the notion that one must deal with other creates on an equal level if one is to communicate with them... ...every creature...has something to teach us. But we cannot learn from any teacher unless we...know how to listen."

Learning to See

"To work successfully with creatures...means to know them, to understand them, establish some degree of rapport. What does [your animal] like; how does it feel, does it feed at night, roam at night, how does it communicate with other animals..."

" can learn more about [animals] through observation than by any other means."

"...we observe with our eyes, but observation is not done with the eyes alone. ...other senses help us see better--and to understand what we are seeing...not just to look, but really to see."

"A good training exercise in developing the powers of to plug your ears... You forced to rely on your sight. Soon you will come to notice the most seemingly insignificant movement."

"Being able to observe and develop a relationship with most often a lonely experience. You'll see much more if you travel alone...when two people share an experience, their senses are too much directed toward each allow the necessary attention to the natural environment..."

"...sit or stand completely still and silent...this gives the natural world...time to accept your presence gain confidence in going about the natural course of events."

"Being a good observer takes much patience...make every effort to blend into the environment."

"...never move directly toward any creature, an angle to it."

" might use a blind. It's any object, left in place so the [animals] become accustomed to it, that will provide a wall between you and the [animal] being observed."

"Of all the virtues of successful animal observation, patience is the greatest. Patience and careful study..."

Reading Signs

"To understand the creatures...we have to know how to observe and interpret their actions."

"The art of...reading signs is...the most challenging element of...successful observation."

Learning to Listen

"We can learn much by remaining passive yet astute observers. The more we observe, the more we listen, the keener our senses will become."

"Wild animals also have responded favorably to the sounds of music."

That Amazing Sixth Sense

"Anthropologists claim that ancient man possess a much higher degree of instinct than we do today simply because he exercized it so much more."

"While working closely with wild animals in my profession...I've transmitted unspoken thoughts to them without gestures and had them respond almost as though they could fully understand my wishes."

" belief in extrasensory [ESP, or SSP--super-sensitive perception] communication with wildlife is shared by a number of other people who have worked closely with animals."

"Anpsi refers to an extraordinary or unexplained communication between animal and man..."

"Dr. J. B. Rhine histories of animals who possess and displayed some special instinct. Some people believe such acts to be the results of love and affection, or of a special closeness to a master. ...instincts displayed by certain animals might indeed be the result of considerable influence through affectional bonds."

"In some cases when animals react to human responses, researchers claim this could be partially explained by a sensitivity to the pheromones released by each person. Research on these chemical reactions to different emotional responses continues. But many other totally unexplained phenomena remain, which are difficult to attribute to anything except a type of mental telepathy that comes from the oneness that unites all life."


"...if animals could talk--if they could verbalize in terminology we humans could understand--who would listen? ...there's considerable evidence we don't listen even to other humans."

"..the fact that animals do not talk in human sounds doesn't mean they don't talk."

"...there is considerable evidence that many animals do indeed possess great intelligence, and moreover that we as humans may be able to learn from them."

"In most every case, I found the greatest training, and hence communication, has taken place using a concept long ago prescribed by noted animal behaviorist B. F. Skinner: positive reinforcement, or operant conditioning."

"Joan Caron...believes there may be no limit to developing a communication system...but...she does not believe it will actually happen--more because of the inability of humans to pursue the matter than because of the receptivity or capability of the animals involved."

"If the animal is unhappy or has a problem, we must overcome or resolve that problem [before any real training can take place and be effective]."

"There's some feeling that...animal[s]...may possess [certain] abilities in reading an individual person."

"Dolphins are having remarkable success...teaching austistic children...thru constant play."

"G. Bateson, in his book Mind in the Waters: I think there is something very important for people who are swimming with porpoises to know; and that is, that certainly when you are in the water with a porpoise, you are not in the position you are with a dog or cat. A dog or cat takes a filial position with you, puts you in the position of parent or don't do that when you are in the water with a porpoise, because you are the child and the porpoise is the parent. Now, if you are the swimmer and you can accept being the child and let the porpoise teach you, there is a lot you can learn about an animal by raising it, by becoming its parent. But then you are in a false situation, you are doing the leading. If you let the animal do the teaching, you will find out a lot more about the animal."

"Animal keepers today, with few exceptions, pay more attention to the creature's physical and psychological needs."

"Dr. Howard Lawler...believes the [keeping] of any animal bring moral and ethical responsibility...along with that...[considering] their psychological requirements."

"...handlers and trainers share the believe that the biggest stress boredom."

"Karen Pryor, consultant on animal behavior,...taught the keepers to take a greater interest in the animals' welfare and, by using a system of positive reinforcement and affection training, to lift the animals out of their state of boredom."

"...the value [in teaching tricks], as Pryor pointed out, was in the process, not the product. The trainer was learning to train and the animal was no longer bored. Within weeks, keepers began to report phenomenal progress."

"Training animals to react to love and affection, or sometimes for food treats, can be very important."

"Food for the [animals] is spread all gives them something to do...[rather than be] bored stiff the rest of the day."

"Animals, if properly stimulated, soon learn to react to people, and that in itself keeps them from getting bored."

"A creature bored into a state of depression, B. F. Skinner once said, is more susceptible to disease..."

"Ask now the beasts, and they shall teach thee"--Job XII 7:7

"Little doubt remains today that animals do indeed possess intelligence, that they can and do...use powers of reasoning."

"...we came to believe...that we are...different from all other forms of life...not only different, but better...we think of animals as being...inferior...part of man's domain...they are ours to use as we see fit."

"More and more, ethologists are finding animals that behave as though they could foresee the outcome of their action."

"Dian Fossey...believes the benefit of intimate contact on a day-to-day basis suggests that nature is gentle and redemptive."

"The real problem with animal talk may not be that our ethics are challenged by what we hear, but that we aren't open-minded enough to hear at all."

"If our society is to survive, we must allow our culture to speak for the intangibles--courage, love, caring, honor..."

"...we become capable of...examining the spirit and tapping into the basic intellectual force that bonds all living things."