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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REALLY looking forward to what you have to say about the farrier/scared horses topic!
Great to have you back Ellen!!!
To Shirley: Oh boy, can I relate to feeling like a failure. So let me tell you something I've learned recently, that failure feeling will only hinder you, let it go because frankly you aren't a failure, or at least I don't think you are. Let your confidence build in all those victories you told us about, heck even the instances you feel aren't victories really are because you learn from them. Go forward, enjoy Cash and, JMO, before you know it you'll be riding along those trails with him. Believe me when I tell you, my mare is a seasoned trail horse, it didn't happen over night. There were lots of days in an arena, getting used to each other, earning her trust, her earning mine. That turned into short trail rides over easy trails with a trusted companion for support. That turned into longer rides over rougher terrain, sometimes with a companion...sometimes just us. It's a long journey, enjoy it!
I agree. When I read Shirley's message about feeling like a failure, I felt like I was reading my own diary!! Thankfully, there are good days with Fanny, so I know that it's not all bad. And I plan to move her to a nice quiet place where I can do things with her at our own speed.
I am considering this option also. No one at my boarding barn is interested in natural horsemanship of any kind. All the adults are more old school and all the kids are interested in pony club and things like that. I don't need someone to agree with all my ideas but it'd be nice to have someone of a similar mind to discuss ideas with.
About 10 days ago I was feeling pretty good about things. We'd gotten all the way around the 3 pastures with me on foot 3 different times with a couple little scares, we'd had some good arena work, I'd led him down the lane several times in the evenings very relaxed. We'd had two progressive hauls to a campground just doing lots of mosseying around to get used to new things. Cash was coming to me every day when I arrived with his wonderful whinny, Very little spooking going on. I get frustrated when I feel like people are thinking that I am a horsey idiot I have to accept this and remember I wouldn't trade for anything.
I know that feeling, and I'm going to tell you what my husband tells me when I get to feeling that way. You are not an idiot, don't let what others think of you color your feelings. You do what you think is right for you and your horse and if others want to look down their noses at it, then let 'em...maybe they ENJOY that view, lol. You've been given Cash for a reason, and it sounds like you're making progress.
Wow, I sense some "kindred spirits" in here!! LOL You ladies are just who I need right now! It's so refreshing to know that I'm not alone, and that others feel the same way I do :o)
YES, It does feel good to have some as you say 'kindred spirits'
Somedaya I feel like "I Can't get no respect" but as long as Cash and I move forward with good feelings about it, that's most important.
Obviously if I thought their waya was the right way for Cash and I, I'd be doing it instead of what I do. My gut tells me more what not to do then what to do. I like looking at others ideas and deciding if they might work for us and then play with it. Nothing better to me then working with Cash whether we are successful with the new attempt or not. We will always be successful with a good relationship. I may make errors along the way but they'll never be very big ones cause I adore Cash too much to push or hurt him.
Good Encouragement Sarah..... "spending time with your horse" no matter what you do does NOT make you a failure..... I'm sure Cash enjoys you Shirley...... they have no agenda like we do.. they just want to live safely through the day.... :) I told you what an inspiration you are... as long as Oliver and Toby and I don't fight, whatever we do is a success for me and I've never been out of my backyard with Oliver..

They are not on a slaughter truck bound for the border so we are all winners if you ask me.... :)
Oh Jennifer do I agree with this thought. I've lost a wonderful horsey friend to the slaughter system and I was crushed. I didn't monetarily own him but I was the only one that took the time to buddy up with this wonderful but scared horse. It's a long story but things were totally out of my hands and I was lied to left and right until it was too late to save him or have him euthanized if it ever came to the poing that I thought it was best. If it was necessary I'd have paid for it in a heartbeat. One of the worst things I've ever been threw. A very special relationship for me. Different then the great relationship I love with Cash. Thanks for your encouragement. I need more time with just Cash and I without all the judging energy around us.

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