In the video "Linda Parelli shows how to effectivly hit with the snap" I commented on the horses use of what I call "calming signals". Since there were some interesst in what I wrote I thougth we could talk about it in this forum thread.

I wrote (so I don't have to repeat myself):

Cartoonracher wrote: "When the young woman is trying to back her horse away (under the big tree), he's obviously confused and "over" the whole lesson. He's tuning her out because nothing he's done has been rewarded. It's nothing but non-stop horse-irritating."

I reacted especially to that scene, too. At first the girl is trying to back the horse when he is in front of the tree. Horses don't have good depth perception, especially backwards, so it seems he is asked to back into the tree, something he feels he can't.

After this the horse is seemingly tuning her out, something Linda claims is disrespectful. The sad thing about it is that the horse is NOT tuning her out, the horse is communicating with horse body language that he is not wanting any conflict. I talk about this in my body language clinics a lot, because not many people seems to be aware of the horses
"calming signals".


Horses use these signals when they feel pressured and wants to let the person understand that they perceive them as agitated/aggressive, but that the person can calm down, because they do not pose any threat to them.

Some of the comments here has been about the horse arching away and trying to turn away from the people. What the horse is trying to do is to signal that he's NOT a threat, and by that it's trying to get the person to not be so aggressive. This is the very opposite of disrespect!

The worst thing about the horses calming signals is that it provokes people. People feel ignored and that is for a human a big provocation. Especially when they have been taught that this is a disrespectful sign from the horse! It's a bit off topic here, but I mention it because it's part of the problem with the clip; not only is she using a horrible technique, she is also gravely misreading the horse!

Even a mild correction would have been wrong when the horse is signaling "lets just have peace - I don't wish to fight with you"… if a horse gives you that message and you correct it you are basically telling it "I don't want peace - and I do want to have a fight".

Like I said, it's off topic, but if someone wants me to explain more about these signals I can, we could always make a separate discussion about it.


The horses calming signals is something I haven't written about before although I talk about this in my clinics. There are a couple of reasons for that: one, I don't know how to begin writing about it - in a clinic it comes naturally when a horse displays the signals - and also because I don't know how much people knows about this already. In Scandinavia, where I live and teach, I know that my students says that this is news to them, but for all I know this is common knowledge in Canada :)

Another big reason is that what I am talking about goes against what most trainers believe in, and rocks the foundation of what many people consider natural horsemanship. I think...
Last, but not least; it is a big topic... so to write about it is a big task, but I will do so if I see that people truly are interessted in what I am talking about :)

That is why I want this to be in a discussion form, to get a grasp of what you know about this already, and also to be able to show some video clips to show you what I am talking about.

To not make this text too long I think it's a good idea if I write seperate posts about the different signals. That way I can add on information as I see what people have questions about :)

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more like embarrassment I think, damage control.
Poor Linda... that video sure made her look bad and I understand why she would want it removed.
When the video was removed the comments went with it, which is actually an automatic deletion whenever a primary post has been removed.

Please feel free to continue your very interesting and dynamic discussion here - no need to write in code.:)
I was concerned as to what was going on behind the scenes. I know of at least one website (which coincidentally was also concerned with animal welfare, training etc. but for dogs), where the owner/operator of the website was slapped with a lawsuit for comments about animal cruelty and very poor conditions at a puppymill. They claimed her comments could "interfere with their right to carry on a business"!
can't watch it...... she's got an energy that offends me.... try this you guys some time...


just for chits and giggles....

if your horse makes an unauthorized move or you would like to get his attention, take a step to his tail..... and ask him to bring his head around and give you his eyes.... I'm thinking that this flicking the halter and elevating the horses head is rude.. she is rude..... this I learned from Chris and my trainer Steve... when managing the head we go for the hip..... when he walks forward I look at his shoulder and ask him to move back.. I do not shake this thing in his face...... anyway, sorry, it's a no go for launch for me..... I work my horses at liberty only most of the time and they stand with no rope.. but a leadrope and halter my trainer said is like picking up the telephone... they understand the smallest movement... and to jerk their heads around and shake the rope like that is just a power trip not a communication technique..... she is no better than the last one..... only watched a minute though and then climbed on my soapbox.... throwing up the head is an adrenaline rush for the horse... like jacking him up on purpose.. I practice keeping my horses head at their shoulder or lower... never do I ask him to throw UP his head.... all the trainer do it, there are thousands of photos of it..... but I personally am experimenting with a technique of NEVER raising the head.... thanks to my online trainer Chris Irwin...
something else that I found curious is that the horse was standing very still, and so appeared to be trying his best to do the exercise. (incidentally where was the reward for doing it correctly for a short time, before asking for a longer time). but here's my point: The only time the horse took a step was when she waved her hand from left to right across her body while talking/gesturing to the human. Could the horse have been trying to interpret her signal? She's talking to the human, but the horse is trying to figure out her body language. If you were training a horse it seems fairer to concentrate your verbal and body language on the horse. If you expect the horses attention to stay on you, then you should have your attention on your horse. I am more experienced with dog training, but a dog that starts looking around during an exercise where he is supposed to be at attention is usually doing it because he's uncertain just what he is supposed to be doing, i.e. the handler hasn't made it clear enough, gives confusing signals, or her attention is wandering. Just my observations,
I always remind myself that an animal during training(and even when we think we aren't training) is always learning, they just aren't necessarily learning precisely what we think they are, because we are actually teaching them something we didn't intend.
well I think you are right on..... I think horses fidget or wiggle around due to nervousness... like if you need a piece of gum or something..... and why are you being reprimanded for stating that you are nervous????? When my horse gets fidgety I just help him get over it by pulling his attention back to what we are doing.... here is an example I thought might be fun that you guys can critique me... cuz I'm a geek and make videos for hours at a time.... this video was in the winter time and we've practiced alot since here but this is me practicing my invisible string energy with Oliver by going to his tail to get him out of trouble and then catching his eye instead of going over and bothering his face.... :)[URL=http://s466.photobucket.com/albums/rr26/jenniferlamm/?action=view&current=022.mp4][IMG]http://i466.photobucket.com/albums/rr26/jenniferlamm/th_022.jpg[/IMG][/URL]
omg what the hell is wrong with stupid photobucket? this is a video not a photo... sorry...


I just try and practice and see what works... I'm not thinking I'm some expert or something.. I'm just like hm... he is so responsive with gentle energy

I've tried to load a video for awhile and I can't goof around any more... if it didn't load I'm not really getting why.. but maybe it did... happy horsin around you guys.... this is my amazing horse Oliver and I tell him he's amazing because what you talk about you bring about...
I can't see a video? can you post the url?
oh really? thank you for letting me know.... I didn't realize because I can see it loaded the minute I log on here.. I'd love to post the url so you can see how I "catch" my Oliver.... :) thank you for helping us...
I am on an iPad and it doesn't like flash, maybe that is the problem. If you put it on youtube I can see it:)
I posted the video because I was seeing signs of what I thought were the calming signals that Ellen was talking about when she started this discussion. As Ellen has stated, many of the calming signals horses give humans are misinterpreted as disobedience or disrespect. I agree, the horse was confused by the gesturing of the handler. The horse also tries to look away, the horse was then bumped by the lead rope as a correction...again, Ellen has stated before that a horse will often look away as a calming signal. I will say that at least Ms. Goodnight doesn't use metal snaps or buckles, but rather a rope to rope connection to the halter. I've taken the video down and apologize for offending anyone.

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