I described this once to someone like this, it’s a shepherd with a twist. His face contorted in confusion. I told him this is not a new drink that I made, it’s a perspective shift to one of our oldest professions, the confusion left, and a sense of profound understanding replaced it.
The essence of range riding to me, is GRIPH, both philosophically and physically. It is truly Guarding the Respective Interests of Predators and Humans. It is looking at someone else and not judging or condemning them for belief system. People are largely a product of their life experiences or circumstances. When we can grasp that, it truly allows us to open up to the possibly that there is a way to compromise without sacrificing ourselves or our own beliefs so that we may “co-thrive” on this planet as earthlings. It is a mentality more than a job title, it is something the world needs on many levels.
Range riding in essence, is developing a physical and phycological buffer between large carnivores and livestock and other human activities. The most successful way to accomplish this is by being present on the landscape during times of peak carnivore activity. The potential for conflict is at its greatest when there is significant overlap between livestock and predator activity and no one guiding the process. Reactive application of non-lethals will further exacerbate these encounters, leading us to negative outcomes. This is evident in my home state of Washington where there has been an ineffective implementation of proactive non-lethals.
I utilize aversive conditioning to associate humans, livestock, domestic pets, human structures and more with a negative stimulus. Wild animals are masters at assessing how much risk will it take, versus what do they gain from the endeavor in question. Animals, like all of us on this planet are primarily water. Water always takes the path of least resistance. I am associating a significant amount of potential risk to anything human related, so that wolves (or other large carnivores) view interacting with humans or around human activities as too risky. You are creating a situation where the risk is too great for the potential reward.
Range riding, when done correctly, with the right mentality, is and will be the most valuable tool in the toolbox to help human communities “co-thrive” on the same landscape as large carnivores. Standardization needs to happen in order for this tool to be utilized to the fullest. This is why I am creating an educational facility that will offer many opportunities, one of which will be to teach range riders how to properly and effectively range ride.