In this moving, at times paradigm-altering seminar, best-selling author Linda Kohanov shares some of her latest, and in many cases, surprising insights on the power of the human-animal bond. Through evocative images and moving case studies from around the world, she combines compelling historical, archeological, biochemical, and behavioral research to illuminate a process of mutual transformation that challenges all our previous notions of how and why our ancestors formed close partnerships with animals.
As she reveals in her new book The Five Roles of a Master Herder, growing evidence on the development of the human-animal bond “suggests that the tendency to seek connection, and to offer as well as request mutual aid across species lines, is a part of nature, that ‘life’ does in fact ‘favor and protect life.’ From this perspective, the human-animal bond is not a by-product of civilization or a contrived innovation; it is the heart of evolution in action.”
Ground-breaking! Linda peers into windows of the past to unravel the enigma of how we first came to live alongside wild animals (who were later domesticated). I found myself on the edge of my seat throughout, celebrating confirmation of my own thoughts and enlightened by Linda’s new and exciting theories.
Laura Williams, Conservation Writer
Founder of Humans and Horses
Senior Advisor WWF Russia
Once again Linda has combined her meticulous research methodology and keen insight to bring us a new lens through which we can see, understand and experience our relationships with animals, both domesticated and wild. At a time when all forms of media appear to be dividing us from each other and our natural world, it is indeed a tonic to be reminded of our deep-rooted evolutionary connection to all living beings.
Francie Kilborne, Attorney
Owner of Solace Equine Center
The Beat Goes On…
(An Excerpt from The Five Roles of a Master Herder)
The heart, and all it stands for, is not a human invention.
It’s a force of nature.
Science prefers to dissect it and repair it. Religion alternately strives to promote it and control it. Art is unabashedly fueled by it. And yet leaders in all these disciplines have tried to hoard the heart’s legendary wisdom by spreading, throughout history, the incessant propaganda that our species is the only one that feels, cares, suffers, yearns, loves—and therefore deserves to thrive at the expense of all the others.
In the late-19th century, the concept of evolution emerged as yet another way to justify callous, opportunistic behavior. Co-opted by aggressive political and business factions that had previously used the Divine Right of Kings and other religious metaphors to control the masses, Darwin’s theory was reduced to slogans that promoted survival of the fittest and competition for limited resources as laws of nature.
The heart was missing in all these endeavors, reinforced by the notion that nature itself was an unfeeling, unintelligent, mechanical process. Darwin’s writings, however, explicitly contrasted with this premise. “There is no fundamental difference between man and the higher mammals in their mental faculties,” he wrote in his 1871 book The Descent of Man. As far as emotions were concerned, he also asserted that “the lower animals, like man, manifestly feel pleasure and pain, happiness and misery.”
In 2012, “The Cambridge Declaration on Consciousness” confirmed this aspect of Darwin’s theory, stating that “non-human animals have the neuroanatomical, neurochemical, and neurophysiological substrates of consciousness states along with the capacity to exhibit intentional behaviors. Consequently, the weight of evidence indicates that humans
are not unique in possessing the neurological substrates that generate consciousness.” The document acknowledged that “neural networks aroused during affective states in humans are also critically important for generating emotional behaviors in animals.” This includes “all mammals and birds, and many other creatures, including octopuses.”
Research in the late-twentieth century also confirmed that sociability is an important factor in survival and in the ongoing evolution of multiple species. There’s even a bio-chemical basis for this inclination. The hormone oxytocin, present in all mammals, buffers the fight or flight response in favor of “tend and befriend” behavior. This powerful neuropeptide, once thought to be released only in females during labor and milk production, also appears in men when they engage in nurturing activities, including petting and caring for animals.
The wonders of oxytocin have spurred further research into the long-term transformational effects of the human-animal bond itself, leading to an unmistakable conclusion: Caring for others is a part of nature that has taken on a life of its own, moving far beyond incidents that occur in parenting direct offspring. Evolution has a heart. It’s much more than a fleshy pump. We ignore its vast connecting wisdom at our peril. And we evolve in direct relation to how consciously we embrace it.
Proceeds from this event support the Merlin’s Spirit Program for Teens and Their Parents. Families practice social intelligence, leadership, conflict-resolution, anti-bullying and mutually-supportive relationship skills through safe and fun, ground activities with horses. This equine-facilitated learning program teaches future leaders how to excel at home, school, work and life.
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Cancellation Policy: Cancellation up to 30 days prior to the event start date results in a credit of one-half the workshop tuition. There is no tuition credit for a cancellation 30 days or less before the event start date.