Have you ever been unsettled by your classmate’s handwringing before an exam? Or the patient before you holding their jaw as they emerge from the dentist’s room?
Its not that you sense or smell fear. You’re reading their body language….and catching it like an infection.
Riders often tell me that their horse senses they’re nervous. I ask them if they think their nervousness changes the way they ride and move around the horse.
“Do our horses appear to act up because they’re nervous and anxious when we are? Or is it, rather, because when we’re nervous, our muscles get tenser and our aids become completely different from what the horse is used to? To me that makes more logical sense.” Dr. Katrina Merkies, PhD, associate professor and equine program coordinator, University of Guelph
Merkies says this bond is based mostly on correctly applied learning theory—the science of how horses learn. When we’ve trained them in a way that’s consistent and clear and gives the horse a sense of being able to control his environment by knowing how to respond to cues, we can develop a strong lifelong relationship with that horse.