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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May I ask? eventhough I commented on the JG video and didn't give it a chance at all, but, did she have any good suggestions? I bet your gelding will get better with practice.... maybe that is his "oh me oh my" language... and he's just nervous.... won't kick anyone but just can't stand still and pretend like it's not bothering him to have his feet picked at... :)

my horse has arthritis back there and he can't even stand that great for very long.....
I really liked what she said about energy, as in high energy is not needed when a horse is as sweet as the one she was working with. She seemed and again this is JMO, to think that high energy wasn't something that was often needed. With Rip, I always thought he was pretty laid back, however since working with him more these days, I'm finding his anxiety threshold is rather low, so yes he may be nervous about his back feet with the farrier (he's been my farrier for just over a year), Rip's not that way with me or my husband when we pick his feet, maybe it's just the use of the nippers/rasp that agitate him because this behavior has been something he's done with all the farriers. I have also wondered if it could be physical, from the day we got him, I've noticed he will sometimes raise a back hoof/leg and look at it like he's trying to figure something out. I've had a vet look at him several times as well as an equine chiropractor, the vet didn't find anything askew and the chiropractor, after an adjustment, pronounced him sound. He doesn't limp, has extraordinary speed acceleration, good balance over terrain and can turn on a dime and give you seven cents in change, he's very athletic; we use him for trail riding. I'm leaning towards it being an anxiety problem, he's really quite the 'baby' when all is said and done, and we've been working on the standing still thing, he's extremely nosy/curious about everything, which often draws his attention away from the, let's say 'job', at hand. I work with him haltered, moving him back with my hands rather than popping him with the lead and telling him 'whoa' which he understands as stop everything and stand/don't move your feet.
I love energy work.... I'm sorry I was such a schmuck and didn't watch the whole thing....
Energy work?
It's the energy you 'send out' as you 'work' your horse, it's kind of hard to explain, much easier to give examples. The LP video, she had very high, aggressive energy. The Hempfling videos, he has low, soft, yet confident energy, heck even his high energy is soft so maybe I'm just confusing you. A friend of mine doesn't use the word 'work'. To him it's 'play'. As in, you don't 'work' your horse, you 'play' with your horse.
I think I know what you're talking about.. I'll have to check out Mr. Hempfling's videos to get a good idea of good energy. I think part of my problem has been that I've focused too hard on a specific physical posture and not just.. Well, being myself and exuding that energy. It makes sense because at first, they seemed like they were confused with me; now, it's like they're thinking "Ohhh, THERE you are!"
It's good to know the reason why now!
Thank you so much! :)
It's amazing how in tune horses are to our energy. There was a lady at the barn that really stirred up my negative emotions and she kept trying to follow me around and talk all the time. My horse got where he would put his ears back at her when ever she came around us.
I've heard it said that they can sense our presense a football field away.
They sure seem to know if we are calm, mean, scared etc.
They are just such awesome creatures.
I play with my horse too...trying to keep things interesting and not boring. Cash will make life interesting if I don't keep things at least a little interesting. Then he will decide to start spooking at every little thing~~ even imaginary things. He basically forces me to move forward and grow. Long way to go!! Hopefully never ending growth. Keep it fun!
Hi Meghan, wow, I missed this too but I love chatting with you guys..... energy work.... well, my horse was stuck.... his energy was if you ask me like that again I will merely rip your head off or run you over or bite you...... hm.... at this point many people might send this horse in a truck somewhere but I figured it would be much more interesting to figure him out..... what energy is Oliver going to relate to? I also had to work on myself, a new, skittish, completely unaware of how horses work person and work on calming my energy..... I learned that getting aggressive with him did not promote movement at all..... but sort of coaxing him along works good..... he wouldn't even lunge... he would plant his feet and give me a "make me girl" look and he was a little scary.... plus, when I got on him he wouldn't move... so our energy was like "stuck".... through my last 18 months and today very successfully I got him to trot..... by walking wiht him and then using my energy to get him to trot with me side by side...... but figuring out our energy has really been a big part of our relationship.. if you are nervous he gets wierd... so I had to practice being really calm, really supportive and not going faster than he and I are both comfortable... I can't tell you what it means to have him trotting next to me and I'm not scared of him at all anymore.... from taking him on a walk once and him knocking me over with his head.... I've learned blocking energy, and forward energy..... and your horse and you will learn about each others energy by hanging out together..... I figured now that he is trotting with me on the ground, hopefully when I get on him he will move a little..... this is a horse that you could beat with a stick and he would not move for me at all before and he was stiff, pissed off, had a huge chip on his shoulder and a I dare you attitude..... aw, Oliver.. I made friends with him.... :)
Jennifer, sounds like Oliver was MUCH more difficult than Donoma--That is encouraging since he's such a wonderful fellow now! Hmm.. I'm going to have to toy around with energies and see if I can figure something out. Kai is a big baby doll but doesn't seem interested in doing anything at all (though I feel like she wants me to do SOMETHING with her--I'm just not sure where to start now since I guess I can say I've been shaken to the core of what I "knew", since we're trying to follow how we feel and need..), and Donoma has some sort of wall up.. Poor thing.. I wish I knew what kind of energy she needed, so I dind't have to experiment and shake her up more....... *rubs imaginary beard*
you'll get it..... and when Ellen gets done helping us you might even be able to figure out what motivates her to engage..... maybe she's just shy and hasn't warmed up to the whole thing yet..... there is a ton of information on this thread from everyone... and putting it all together will help you get a relationship with your special girl..... I am happy to be here learning with you and I can't wait to read about more of your progress.... I think what was difficult about Oliver and probably Ellen can attest to this because she knows alot of horses... most of them move.... or run around in the roundpen.. they don't stand square and look at you like they want to run you down like my did... the energ he needed was for me to soften and tell him I wasn't a threat.... and then he softened.... :) he is losing the chip on his shoulder and bending more and being sweet.. after he ran me down a few times I gave off a really scared energy and he fed off of it... ... oh you'll shake her up because that is how you learn what she is trying to say.... I can't wait for you and Ellen to talk about it.... :)
Who is JG?
Jennifer Goodnight--a horse trainer they posted a video of on here. :)

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