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Thursday, December 30, 2010

Communicating with Horses

There are many ways that horses communicate to us.  You do not have to be psyhic to communicate with them but you do need to learn their language.  They speak to us through actions, body movements, expressions, behavior patterns and sounds. 
Horses respond to different levels of communication. Our tone of voice, the expression of our body carriage, and the way we walk send a message to the horse. Our mood or intentions are first communicated by the way we greet the horse. In the moment that the horse sees you approaching, his eye observes your gait and posture, his ear listens to the tone of your voice, and his mind interprets every body position or movement. The response is immediate. This subtle form of communication happens on a subconscious level of understanding and is received and interpreted on a daily basis during interaction with others. This level of communication can be called automatic acuity.

We automatically perceive and receive information about a horse's state of being.  What is difficult is translating it into information and words that your conscious mind can understand and know as correct.  If a horse does not like something, he may be very animated in his response to it.  He may bite, pin his ears, kick out, back up, rear, bolt etc.  This response is easier to interpret because in most cases there was an object or procedure that triggered it. 

The subtle signals most horses give are often overlooked.  For example; you are tacking up your horse and approaching with the saddle pad.  The horse gets restless acting and may act as if a fly is bothering him.  This  reaction is often misinterpreted because it is so subtle.  Time goes on and the horse continues to give these subtle forms of communication to their owner. Perhaps your horse starts to become girthy and/or grind their teeth when being saddled. All of these hints if left unnoted eventually turn into bigger and bigger signals, such as biting at their sides when saddled, or even trying to bite at you, and maybe kicking out.  The horse is punished for this behavior.  His complaint is not heard.   It continues and eventually you have a lameness show up or a sore back, or ulcers etc.  The horse did warn you.  We must teach ourselves to pay attention to all the signals your horse gives you to prevent future problems.   By honoring your horse and always asking first before doing something you will develop a better communication and relationship with your horse.

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