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 :)

Tags: abuse, behavior, calming horse, ellen ofstad, equestrian, equestrian forum, equine, equine behavior, equine forum, horse, More…horse abuse, horse forum, horse training, horsemanship, linda parelli, natural horsemanship, parelli, pat parelli, training

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I had never thought about a horse, the fear of pain and the fear of punishment being greater, so they deal with the pain, but I can see now that I've actually witnessed exactly that more than a few times in my life. Very good point, about always thinking it's all a matter of training/changing the horse's behavior before knowing the cause. I'm thinking I need to work on myself and my understanding of Rip's "disobedience" and the "behavioral chains', which is something that has come to my mind recently in getting Rip used to me and 'my' way of handling him. He learned some behavioral chains from his previous handler/rider that I'm going to need to address, nothing serious but I think he'll be happier without them; mainly because I think he learned them as a coping mechanism. Maybe I'm wrong in thinking that he'll unlearn them himself simply because I'm not handling/riding him like he's been previously handled/ridden? His behavior will change, because he's not having to behave that way to cope?
my poor older horse Toby is so used to being disciplined... :( I got him when he was 22 and I've enjoyed practicing new things with him that let him express himself... I don't think horses are as disobedient as using their bodies to tell us things.. they have to express themselves through body language.... it is so fascinating..... people used to just think I was an idiot when I'd ask him if it was okay to get on and he said no..... by moving away, then I'd find something else to do with him and they would go on the ride without me..... oh well, the horse digs me so that's all I really care about... :) I can tell you one things Sarah.. it has taken longer to untrain my older horse than it has to teach the baby..... so sometimes we are dealing with other peoples miscommunication of your horse... :(
This is just a story from my memory book with Cash. He was very good at standing while I mounted. A 'helpful' friend suggested his girth was too tight, I'd never thought it was too tight but out out of respect for her and doubting myself too easily (3 yrs. ago) I loosened the girth. Then I tried to mount Cash for about 1/2 hr. He just kept moving everywhich way so I couldn't get on. He eventually gave up and stood still. I put my foot in the stirrup and added my weight and down the saddle and I went ...right down his side. So there we were with the saddle and myself under Cash. I got up ok~~ irritated at how easily I'm influenced and cause people should know more before they give advice. It took a long time to get the saddle unhooked from under Cash but he amazingly just stood there as a very good boy rather then freaking and heading off. I was so complimented and thankful by his reaction.
Did you ever read Mark Rashid and Considering the horse????? I know you wanted to listen to Cash because you believe in benefit of the doubt like me.... he knew better..... your silly friend... huh.
Very few trainers bother to teach the emotional side of things Ellen.... so thank you for your commentary. :)
I understand what you mean. :) my horse is motivated by attention..... he craves it.... he used to go over to this fence when i was working with my other horse and paw it or push on it because i would come over and correct him.. pretty soon his misbehaving got him the attention.... then I tried something with my clicker training, which I sometimes use and sometimes don't... but I got him to move away from the gate and clicked and treated when he didn't go to the gate.... my trainer came over and said, geez, he doesn't even go for that fence now and I said, I know... I taught him that, LOL..... that's why spending hours and hours just learning about my horse has been invaluable to me in becoming better friends with him...
Hello everybody!
Just came back from a week long trip where I lived in a cabin with no access to the net. I will read all the postings (wow, there has been a lot of activity! Great!) tonight, and make some comments later. I am sorry for disapearing suddenly like I did, but thought I would be able to get online during my trip.
Ellen
That sounds fun! I hope you had a good get-a-way :)
It was great :) most days we drove around and worked on horses (my husband is a farrier and they needed one right then) and at night we drank wine, sat in a sauna and saw the spectacular northic light (we were in Kirkenes, the most northwrn town in the world)

During the weekend I held a clinic. I have now read most of the postings in this thread, and saw the topic of farriers and scared horses. Good timing for that; we worked on that with one of the horses in the clinic and I know someone took pictures. I will tell you all about what we did and hiw it went soon, just hoping to get ahold of the pictures first, it's easier to explain when I can show you.
Looking forward to that!
That'll be great! My Kai ran circles when the farrier came.. Apparently, she doesn't think much of pedicures:)
Oh wow, that sounds fantastic! Get some good pictures of the lights? ;) Anything involving wine, sauna, northic lights and horses has to be good:)

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