The feature photo shows The Giants – Ken Ramirez, Alexandra Kurland, Kay Laurence and Jesús Rosales-Ruiz. On either side of them are Neela and Keith Johnston – the conference organisers. Photo: Jennifer Wilcox. I’ve called them The Giants as I thought of the moment I went to Google Scholar to search for a better way to train horses. On Google Scholar’s search page is the saying “Stand on the Shoulders of Giants” – I hadn’t forgotten that. Now here were four of the giants in the behaviour world and I was going to get to listen to them for five days!
I’ve learnt that when I go to a seminar or clinic – my brain normally absorbs a very small amount – no matter whether I take a whole lot of notes or none – usually there is maybe just one or two things I will learn. There were three things that had an impact on me – and it was really nothing to do with the conference topics!!!!
We had ‘at sea’ days and also days where we stopped at Puerto Rico, St Kitts and St Maarten. I’m going from memory here – some details may be wrong – but I think the first two days were at sea. I know one day was quite rough – I’m fortunate that I don’t get seasick!
This was different from the usual seminar – in a way it was more like a conversation! Kay, Alex, Jesús and Ken each had days where they could explore topics. Questions were invited from the participants. We joined in the discussions and also watched/listened to them discussing topics amongst themselves.
As we were listening, what happened to me, in what was very much a science based conversation, was a ‘spiritual moment’! I watched them discuss a topic – someone may have disagreed with the other one – but what they did in that moment was different to what I see in most people – they would make a note of what the other was saying to explore it further – rather than dismiss or get defensive. This was a true productive conversation – each of them had obvious respect for the other – and I realised that this was why they were all so successful – ego wasn’t at the top of their list – learning about behaviour and to constantly explore this deep topic to benefit the animal kingdom was their priority.
I think I had a tear in my eye – in that moment I realised I was ‘home’. This was indeed what I was looking for – thoughtful, educated people who had the best interests of the animal at heart. I had found my people…… my community….
This is what I had been searching for for so long…….. I felt like I had been travelling that Long Road forever – and on arriving at my destination there was such relief! I knew this was just a beginning – but I was home…….
COMING UP – PORTL AND PORTS OF CALL!
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