Horses have adapted well to their relationship with man. Only the dog or cat would appear to have manipulated the relationship more to their benefit than the horse. Few other domesticated animals have been the focus of such adulation as the horse. Few animals have shown such a propensity for service while at the same time maintaining their power and mystique. A key factor in the development of this relationship has been the use of body language for communicating between horse and human. The signals given by the horse, whether to humans or to other horses, consist of facial expressions, postures and gestures, which will be outlined more specifically below.
We are always communicating. All animals (including humans) emit constant streams of information through various means. One flow of communication is through body language. Better understanding of body language will assist us in our relations to all beings. Our studies of body language and the horse can be viewed from three perspectives:
- Horse to Horse (or other animals)
- Horse to Human
- Human to Horse
Horses communicate to other horses and to humans much the same way, through a highly developed language of facial expressions, postures and gestures. Effective human to horse communication relies partly on a constant monitoring of all three. Better understanding of a horse’s emotional state leads to a better understanding of the horse’s overall condition.