Training and communicating with horses and dogs was a natural for most rural farmers; and I considered my father an expert.
I must confess that I am not a master about humans communicating with animals. All I know is what I observed while growing up on the farm. Actually, it was my dislike for working with farm animals that persuaded me to go to college.
Farmers trained their horses to turn and stop on command. Joe and Ned, father’s favorite horses, would know exactly when to turn left or right when the end of a field row was reached simply by the commands, gee (pronounced jee- turn right) and haw (turn-left). Stop was always whoa.
As with automobiles, in England and some other countries, the turn commands are reversed for their horses.
I always wondered why the horse would act strange when I tried to climb on the right side; guess they were trained that way.
I do not know how the farmers trained their animals, but the movie implied that using gentle methods were preferable over harsh ones.
I do remember my father putting his forefinger and thumb in the horse’s nostrils and telling the horses what was expected of them, and they would listen or else.
Dad had a natural knack for training dogs, and they respected him. I remember that one of his beagles named “Old Blue” was missing one day. One year later while returning from Carencro he noticed a dog in a person’s yard that resembled “Old Blue.” A policeman was called. It was determined that both gentlemen would stand about a hundred feet apart and the dog would be released and hopefully determine the true owner. After a whole year the dog recognized his true master, and dad started hunting rabbits again.
Today I see many people have trained bulldogs. Most of them are used to alert the owner that someone is approaching the residence. Dad had several of the meanest ones I have ever seen. They needed to remain chained or they would devour everything in sight.
The family would always laugh when he told us that the dogs wouldn’t hurt a flea. We would respond, “But they would eat a horse.”
He would train his bulldogs by looking at them straight in the eyes and talking to them. He would say that animals would communicate more with their eyes than with their ears.
I don’t trust his method, that’s why I carry a stick or umbrella when I visit someone with a bulldog in the yard.
And I look in their eyes as I back away from the vicious dog.