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Peace Lessons From A War Horse

Could you teach a peace-loving and exquisitely sensitive animal to carry you across a battlefield into enemy fire? What would that teach you? A true story…

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War Horse illustration

War Horse by B.A. Lampman

I have spent my professional life as a brain surgeon, while my main avocation has been training horses. As a neuroscientist, I know how hard it is to overcome our deeply engrained thought patterns because they reflect the ways our brains are hardwired to default to instinctive responses. But I have also learned how much horses have to teach us about changing those thought patterns and reactions. My grandfather, who helped raise me, was a World War I cavalry officer with a horse named Otto, and then a dressage rider—so horses were key to his survival, as well as to his expression as an athlete and artist. He taught me that one of the biggest obstacles horse trainers face is that, as human beings—at our core—we are all so fundamentally predatory.In my grandfather’s time a cavalry officer was symbolic of the über predator—something very different from the way most of us see ourselves. But he would argue that he was less self-deceived than most people. Our eyes are in front, our teeth are sharp, and we are all instinctively driven to look for the reward, to scrap with whatever assets we have to get it, and …

Allan J. Hamilton, MD, is a Harvard-trained brain surgeon. His latest book, Lead With Your Heart—Lessons from a Life with Horses, was published in September.


Allan J. Hamilton MD

Allan Hamilton MD knows how brains work, in part, because he has drilled into thousands of them. A Harvard-trained brain surgeon, he’s also medical consultant to ABC’s Grey’s Anatomy and author of books including The Scalpel and the Soul and Zen Mind, Zen Horse. He’s now at work on a big book about the brain, and has shared a slice about how to protect that source of profound happiness called flow. Allanhamilton.com


This entry is tagged with:
Animal WisdomPeaceAnimalsPersonal EssayHistory

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