Human to Horse Copy
Now that we have learned some very basic information about the communication style of the horse, we can look at the effect of our own body language on the animals around us. A common error people make is to assume that horses can understand abstract behavior. Another common mistake is for people to exhibit undue timidity or fear around a horse. While it is appropriate to exercise caution and alertness whenever working around horses, a horse will respond more readily to handling that is confident and compassionate.
Remember, as potential prey, the horse is on constant alert for danger and they are far more sensitive to their environment than people are. When you harbour fear or act tentatively, you are telling the horse that there is reason to be concerned somewhere in the immediate environment. When you display overt aggression or anger, YOU become the perceived danger.
Here are some things you can do with your body language to positively influence your relationship:
- Use deliberate movements when handling a horse.
- Keep physical contact with the horse as much as possible.
- NEVER HIT A HORSE ON THE FACE OR IN A BLIND SPOT AND NEVER WITH ANGER.
- One of the most effective way to communicate is by using your breathing and your intention. This method also serves to increase your sensitivity to your horse’s body language.
- Use your voice to support your body language. Avoid speaking loudly or using your hands while speaking. An exception would be instances where you are defending yourself against a bullying or spoiled horse.
Behavior is a complex topic worthy of deeper study than we have time for in this class. The best way to learn about horse behavior is simply to spend some quiet time watching horses as they interact with each other, their environment and the people in their life. There are also many good books on the subject, including Understanding Horse Behavior by Sue McDonnell and Horsewatching by Desmond Morris.
For now, let us move on to the subject of horse handling. As we work directly around the horses, we will be able to discern more about their behavior, which will lead us to further discussion during the course.