Horses Horses Horses! » Do horses talk? http://equismarts.com For the love of horses Sat, 04 Aug 2012 03:29:21 +0000 en-US hourly 1 http://wordpress.org/?v=3.4.1 Talking to horses in the round pen http://equismarts.com/2012/08/01/talking-to-horses-in-the-round-pen/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=talking-to-horses-in-the-round-pen http://equismarts.com/2012/08/01/talking-to-horses-in-the-round-pen/#comments Thu, 02 Aug 2012 00:43:53 +0000 Kaki http://equismarts.com/?p=244 Talking to horses might be possible. The round pen is a wonderful place to try your hand at talking to horses.  It is a place where we can hold a sort of body language dialog that the horse understands, and gives the horse the ability to try to reach us as well.   From our human... Continue Reading »

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Talking to horses might be possible.

The round pen is a wonderful place to try your hand at talking to horses.  It is a place where we can hold a sort of body language dialog that the horse understands, and gives the horse the ability to try to reach us as well.   From our human standpoint, the dialog begins with two simple ideas: move… and stop.  As simple as these two ideas are, our ability to communicate with freely moving horses around these two ideas is magical.

Most horses like to move.  Getting them to move requires only a little encouragement.  We can get horses to move outside the round ring as well, but on the outside, a loose horse can gallop off, leaving us in their dust, thereby ending “the conversation”.   A round pen is shaped in a circle, so that the horse can run but never leave.  Eventually, even the most athletic or scared horse trotting around the circle is ready to try to communicate with us, so that they can stop.   Talking to horses works best when horses want to listen, but from the horse’s point of view we have to be listening too – with our eyes.  If I can get a horse to start trotting around a round pen, and then wait, eventually the horse will use its body to try to communicate with me that it wants to stop.  The horse might do something very subtle, like turn an ear toward me.  It might do something more obvious – lick its lips.  It might even try something dramatic, dropping its head to the ground while it is still trotting around, as if it is sniffing the earth. None of these body cues are words, and yet I believe that all of them are the horse’s attempts to talk with me.  Can I communicate back to the horse?  As crazy as it sounds, if I take several big steps backward from a trotting horse that has dropped its head to the ground and licked its lips, it will usually stop in its tracks.  It is magical!  Why does this work?  I don’t know – my mental model is of a force-field.  When I am close to the horse, my body’s force-field pushes on the horse. Squaring my shoulders, or waving my arms or yelling all increase the strength of the force-field.  When I back up, the pressure goes away, allowing the horse to relax.  I wonder if this would work with a dog or a cat?

Pressure on to move.  Licking lips to understand. Pressure off to stop.  We will together have developed the beginnings of a way to communicate.  Talking to horses might not be impossible after all.

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Talk to Horses-Can we? http://equismarts.com/2012/08/01/talk-to-horses-can-we/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=talk-to-horses-can-we http://equismarts.com/2012/08/01/talk-to-horses-can-we/#comments Wed, 01 Aug 2012 18:40:46 +0000 Kaki http://equismarts.com/?p=237 Is it Possible to Talk to horses? When I was little I worshipped a movie hero who could talk to horses and other animals.  I desperately wanted to do the same.  I wanted to be Dr. Dolittle.  I would sit for hours with little scraps of bread in my open palm, held open on the ground, trying... Continue Reading »

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Communication happens like an invisible bridge between man and horse. Both horses and humans can feel the connection.

Is it Possible to Talk to horses?

When I was little I worshipped a movie hero who could talk to horses and other animals.  I desperately wanted to do the same.  I wanted to be Dr. Dolittle.  I would sit for hours with little scraps of bread in my open palm, held open on the ground, trying to entice some local squirrel or chipmonk to come and eat out of my hand.  Once or twice one actually did grab the bread from my fingers.  While not a resounding success, I felt that I was on my way to skipping in Dr. Dolittle’s footsteps.  (I also tried to entice all of our neighborhood’s cats, but never brought along any catfood, and they were wiser than to let a child near them.)  As I grew older my life grew busier, we moved to a more urban setting, and I forgot about my career plans to become an animal communicator.  I fell far from my dream.  As a young adult I didn’t even have a dog.

Then a miracle happened – my family moved to a ranch.  I now run a business that involves horses.  I love working with, training, and just hanging out with horses.  It has given me the time, and indeed, required me to look at horses.  I am finding that, with just a little encouragement, many horses do their part to bridge the grand canyon-size gap in horse-human communication.  We speak our words to them, which they most likely do not understand. Most horses don’t seem to notice their own name.  But as we speak we move our hands around, we speak softly or loudly, fast or slowly, we lean in our out, maybe we raise our eyebrows or tense the muscles around the corners of our mouths.  Our bodies give off a thousand little clues about our mood and our intentions.  I think horses pay attention to all of these other “communications” that happen while we talk away.  For their part, horses try to communicate back.  They lean in or out, and they look at us or away.  Their ears flick toward us, fix on us, point outward, or pin back against their necks.  Sometimes horses hold their head up away from us, but other times they drop their heads far down to the level of our legs.  All of these changes might be their own communications back toward us.  We just need to listen with more than our ears.

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Horse herd dynamics. Horses “decide” to play together during a sudden rainstorm. http://equismarts.com/2012/07/17/horse-herd-dynamics-and-horse-consensus/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=horse-herd-dynamics-and-horse-consensus http://equismarts.com/2012/07/17/horse-herd-dynamics-and-horse-consensus/#comments Tue, 17 Jul 2012 17:03:01 +0000 kennerranch http://equismarts.com/weblog/?p=115 Do horses individually think in horse herd dynamics? We are also curious about whether horses “thought” about anything other then a flake of hay.  More than that, we were interested in what it means to think when you are a horse.  Do they scheme, plan, organize, or engage in any of those more complex thinking... Continue Reading »

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Do horses individually think in horse herd dynamics?

We are also curious about whether horses “thought” about anything other then a flake of hay.  More than that, we were interested in what it means to think when you are a horse.  Do they scheme, plan, organize, or engage in any of those more complex thinking & communication activities?  Or, do horses act as individuals when it comes to horse herd dynamics.

We couldn’t really know.  Horse herd dynamics are complicated.  But we did see the strangest thing not too long ago when it started to rain after a long dry spell.

, in a somewhat organized fashion, left the back pasture, wandered (en masse) down to the arena, and proceeded to let loose.  Mind you, this is no straight forward effort.  The entrance to the arena, though it adjoins the back pasture, does not benefit from a direct connection.  The horses had to stop what they were doing (eating), group up, and rapidly wander down to the arena in order to cut loose as the pictures here show.  Horse herd dynamics here indeed.  Mind you, it had just began to rain when they all magically arrived within the arena.  They showed up in the arena very rapidly.

We were so surprised by the size and location of this carefree exhibition that we pulled the camera out to capture it.

It is not uncommon for cooler temperatures and a little rain to spin the horses up.  But they chose the arena for this playfulness.  Why? Sure, the footing is softer.  But it really seems they had to be premeditated and organized to do it the way they did.  They came and let loose together.

They had to first “think” that they wanted to run about as the rain begun to fall.  Then, it seems, one of the horses had to say to the others, “hey fellers, if we’re going to jump and kick about, it would make a lot more sense to do in the arena.  The ground is much softer there.  And Wally, you can use the mud there to make a filthy spectacle of your yourself.  What do you think? Last one there is a rotten egg!”

Many horse owners will give their horses credit for being very perceptive.  But thinking … that’s a stretch.  We however, do see some of our horses do the strangest things. I do not want to get caught assuming these critters are “dumb” just because they don’t verbalize like people do.  I mean really. They may return the favor to me and assume I’m dumb just because I won’t shut up and listen.

So, I listen and observe.

 

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