'And that denying animals equal rights is the same as racism or sexism. What I would like to know however is what you do when animal and human interests conflict?? '
It is only natural to look after yourself be it animal, human or plant that threatens your well being.
It is up to each and every one individually to choose wisely for them selves and other's well being.
For example, that is why a lot of people are vegetarian or buy against animal testing.
It is about not abusing the fact that you can choose for others.
I do not see picking orders in establishd herds. What I do see is a clear culture of family bounds and relationships.
I see young(er) horses looking up to wiser ones.
I see bullies or anti social horses be ignored and left alone untill they get the picture. Then they are rewarded with attention and care.
And above all, you do not take the alpha role, you receive it for being the most caring, for proven that you are a good choice as alpha by your actions that serve the herd well.
A human designed 'herd' that changes on an off ussually has a bully, not an alpha.
You see emotionally distressed, clueless 'on being horse' like horses, living together in to small spaces, lacking the nutrition they need.
A whole different set of values and interaction goes in action than with an established (almost) free herd with grass and plant to their leasure.
Are horses our equals?
No. We humans lack so many things still, we lost them somehow in the last 12.000 years... But I do think it is coming back slowly.
Maybe one day we will be their equals again.
For now, we can only work hard in finding our selves and hope we can have just a bit of the awarness horses have.
Th fact that we live in a human created world with our horses does make it so that we humans have to make a lot of choices for the horse's protection.
Horses do understand that more then we think.
View yourself living in the jungle under the protection of wolves... would you leave them even if you could? Not knowing were to go and all other predators having their eyes on you?
Would you listen and do what the wolves tell you so that you could surely stay? You maye hope all will treat you well and always choose with your best interest at heart...
I use to think a lot about these things... being an animal rights activist.
I do not any more.
The world is as it is. It changes... I believe for the better.
I love my horses and I make the choices for them I have to make (as human and horse in human world) with my heart.
From that moment on, I was invited in my small and yes unnatural herd.
I have felt a part of a group, a family with values and a clear culture. A human part of horse world.
Standing together in the sun... Our eyes closed, one head above me, on head below me. One watching over me, one expecting I was watching over him.
I heard a noise, I expected to be disturbed, I looked up and my breath became heavy, they looked up to, in the same direction breathing heavy. It was not what I thought it was, my annoyance left me and my breath sank to my belly again... and so did theirs and we went back in to the snooze, one head above me, one head below me.
The head above me was once dangerous, it attacked and bit... the head below me was once to frightened to ever come near me or be below me...
View it as being invited for a tea ceremony with a japanes family. All may seem different to you, a different culture, different rules... but it is still just a family, and those are all the same where ever you go, providing that the members function sane and natural.(Thus not anti social)
You do not know what the rules of the ceremony are... what to do? Just be still and quiet, and watch and follow the others. Feel humble and found of everybody in the room, trusting that they forgive you for being foreign to this and let you make your mistakes. They only expect respect for their culture and family. And when you have that, you'll be fine and you'll enjoy your tea and company!
For me, alpha, being equal, training, making choices... all these matters become very simple no matter with what species you interact... the moment it becomes matters of the heart and not of the mind.
Or as I heard once in a movie as phrase when something went wrong: 'to many mind.'
'always remain humble'
'be like water, my friend'