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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http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=p5NloGUSM-k

Okay you guys, now it's someone elses turn to put up a video before I bore you to death..... here is my Toby.... I am trying to see what I have to do here to start following me more at the shoulder.... he forever would move back with pressure and here is actually is learning a new behavior.. i am asking him to go forward when he wants to avoid and go back... ah, he got it... isn't he cute the old guy????? He's 28 and very shy..... in all of my videos you can see why my trainer tells met slow down and wait between cues... I'm working on timing now... because I rush them.... they are such sweet horses... and so patient with me...
Hi everyone!
We are in different time zones here, and when I got up this morning and checked this forum, I could see that you had a VERY busy night!! :)

After having tried to find out what and where the new postings were, and what responded to what, I got dizzy!

So I decided to take the suggestion of setting up a group for this topic:

http://www.barnmice.com/group/bodylanguage

I have started to copy some of my postings from this thread into separate discussions in the group to get a clearer view of the different topics that has come up, and now I am hoping that you will do the same.

Those of you that has posted videos of your horse, could you post them in the group as separate discussions?
Also comments, questions etc, that you want to keep talking about can be posted in the relevant discussion or made into a new one.

I love the interest about this subject, but it's a big topic and I think it will be easier for all if we split it up a bit. Right now its easy to miss new comments and questions and that would be a shame.

I hope you all think that this is a good idea:)

Also, I want to let you know that I will be busy with a clinic again this weekend and then a little travel, so if I seem slow to respond, it's not because I am ignoring anyone, I am just out with horses:) I travel quite a bit, so I have to be a bit off and on here...
Jennifer, HI! Nope, I've never been hypnotized but I have considered it.
When Cash takes off like I've told here, he is not afraid of me. It's totally boredom, spunk and excess energy when we are on home territory. When we are away from home, he has not 'yet' pulled away from me at all. I believe this is for a couple of reasons. If something scares him he wants to stay with his herd and that's me and the other horse and rider that go with us. I do wear gloves and a rope halter for safety reasons. How horrible what happened to the lady whose horse got hung in his rope. I do plan to take him out and about more around the barnyard . We've probably been out about 15 times now that it's cooling and we've had one spook in that time that was controlable with the rope halter and gloves. This instance was when the horses in the pasture we were going around got excited by Cash being outside of the pasture and they started running with enthusiasm. I believe doing these things successfully with Cash helps his confidence to grow. In time the spookie things should become 'no big deal' But in the meantime, I don't want to loose him in the woods if he should get over excited and run off. I am anxious but I'm listening to Cash and not pushing forward till this all feels 'good' He generally does not pull on our rope. His spooks that used to be major are now prettty minimal. Cash will be bored to death if all we ever do is hang around the arenas. A couple weeks ago wehn I did ride up and down some of the lanes at the barn that I feel pretty safe on, he was so happy. and he blew and blew, the kind of reaction you get when they are contented. Not the same as snorting.
I don't have any idea why you think Cash is afraid of me at 12 ft? Maybe you can explain more what you are thinking on that point.
I'll have to get some videos posted on here so anyone that wants can look at what goes on with Cash and I.

Marlene: I'm with you on 'needing a job'. He does have excess energy and I believe that contributes to the spookiness. I did use a grazzing muzzle this summer when the grass was lush and he was geting to heavy. But now that fall has arrived and most the pasture has dried up we have the opposite problem, he's been going nearly 20 hrs with almost nothing to eat between breakfast and dinner. He was getting a handful of grain before going outside in the morning and then 3 flakes of hay at night. Now they are giving a little bit of hay outside in the morning and then they graze all day on very little pasture and then dinner time is their big meal when they are brought in for the night. The later is much better and soon they will put out more hay in the morning feeding too so it will be better then. In the meantime, I will be continueing to go out in late afternoon to either give him a flake or graze him where there is more grass to graze on. I do that for an hour or more 4/5 days a week. The lack of food mid-day has got to make them a little uneasy. In nature they'd roam off and look for somewhere with better feeding.
Ellen: I agree with you that Cash is trying to tell me something and I need to try to figure out what that is. "Isn't that interesting?!" Some things I DO over-analyze for sure but the things I'm looking at seem logical to me for the most part. I will try to get some filming of us doing various things. One of my favorite things we won't be able to film cause we do it when it's dark. We walk (I'm on foot too) down the barn lane to the road, eat a little grass at the end and come back. It's a relaxing time for us.
Looking forward to more conversations by all. Thanks for all your input.
Oh geez Shirley, I don't remember saying that and I'll never find that part now.... :( hm..... maybe I said it cuz my goofy horse gets goofy if we are far away from each other..... shoot.... I have no idea why I said that now... LOL
Jennifer~~LOL
Megan, I wonder if D nipped at you in a reciprocal way. Horses often share scratches on the back, could she have been attempting to do that? Just a thought~
Great progress, happy for you and D.
I'm happy to see someone trying to help an afraid horse. I love it.
Hmm, I don't think so, but I'll pay closer attention if/when she nips like that again.. It seemed like an "OK, I reached my threshold of you touching me so... BLAM!" reaction, but it certainly could be the latter.. Good food for thought though.. She was facing me though, went for my arm while scratching--hmm?...

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