There has been much discussion lately on some other blogs about new school trainers vs. old school trainers. This my friends is nonsense. First of all, it is the natural order of things to evolve and get better. What people thought was the easiest and best way to train a behavior 50 years ago, has been refined and made (in most, not all cases) more humane. Also what the public considered an exciting act or "entertainment" 50 years ago, has also changed quite a bit. (You don't believe me just watch TV and Movies from only 20 years ago) Another huge factor is the amount of animals in an act. At one point nearly every show would have double digits of elephants, and a cat act wasn't worth mention if it had less then 15. Now days a show is lucky to have any cats, and maybe a three act of elephants. What I am getting at here (yes I have a point) as far as the well being (mental and physical) of the animals on circus's there is no comparison, they have it way better now days. I feel bad that the trainers of today will likely never have a shot at the "big" acts of yesterday, as I feel they would have done alot of things different. Does this take away from what pioneers did to get animal training to where it is today? Not at all. But alot of what they did should be displayed more like museum pieces about any other pioneers, with less hype and glamorizing what they did. They should surely not be compared with what is done today, as that is apples and oranges. Sadly the circus business has always been shrouded in secrecy, and little is documented with actual proof. What was the best is generally decided by whose friend is doing the talking. Also what is wrong can be over looked depending on who sos and so is related to or how many times he has sprung for dinner in the past 5 years. Hopefully, if we want to continue to exist, we will stop this tradition. I am trying. I will climb down off this soap box now and post a photo of what I have heard described as a "very difficult" trick for cats, by some past heroes of the craft.
Now I will say that, years ago this may have been tougher with cats that were hot all the time, and hadn't been "trained" to get along. This was only the second attempt of this trick, and all together it took about 15 mins to train. It is sometimes called Over the Garden Wall, what it is really is a cat sitting up on another cat, and if one cat is really "trained" to lay down, and the other cat is really "trained" to sit up, they should do it anywhere you ask them to. In the era of "old school" training I assume few cats were actually "trained" and had to be "worked" every show. This was in part to the desire to have it look chaotic all the time, furthering the whole man against beast myth. Just a few of my thoughts...
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Have a great day!
Another stupid hole I dug myself in,
Was along up out of there my friend,
Dusted myself off and swore
I'm never going back down there no more,
You won't catch me hangin round there again,
When I get outta the hole I'm in