Friday, May 10, 2013

How Your Body Language Effects Your Relationship with Horses.

If you've ever watched a herd of horses out in the pasture; or had the pleasure of watching Mustangs in the wild; you probably noticed that the majority of their communication is done via body language.  The majority of your communication with your horse takes place without a word ever passing your lips.  Just like they read the body language of their herd mates, they also read your body language just as well.  When you stop to think about it, it makes perfect sense.  Ever notice that when you spend time at the barn, around your horse, when you are happy, sad, angry, whatever your horse behaves differently depending on  your mood? Ever wonder why?  It's because your horse is reading you, much like you are reading this blot. (Thanks, by the way.)

To horses, reading body language is easy, and just part of everyday life.  People however have gotten out of the habit of paying attention to the subtle details that make up body language.  For the most part, when we communicate with each other, it is verbal, and because we are taught to look as whomever is speaking, our focus is usually on their face.  We have spent so much time looking people in the eyes when we talk to them that we can easily read the emotions on their face, but what about the rest of their body?  Can you easily read how someone feels about themselves by simply watching them?  If you can't, you can bet that your horse can.  Ever notice that your horse is a really good judge of character?

Horses notice and read (quite well, I might add) the very subtle ques of body language, including the body language of humans.  Before, you ever get close to them, they know if you are confident or scared, happy or sad, calm or anxious, and anything else you may be at the time.  As your mood and body language changes, so does your horse.  Where the relationship between a horse and a human is concerned, we are operating at a huge learning curve compared to them.  They live their lives day-to-day reading body language; and we live ours day-to-day listening to tone of voice and watching facial expressions.  Because of this, we have to learn to read their body language, while they have us pegged from a mile away.

So, what do you do?  Well, being as every person is truly unique in how they handle different situations, this is a nearly impossible question to answer in a way that will cover everyone.  I consider myself a very stable person (pun intended), that's not saying that I don't have the stresses, worries, or anything else that any other person has.  I just know how to deal with them in a way that suits me.  For me, the way that my place is set-up, I have to go through a gate to even get to the barn, and that is the way that I like it.  Before I walk through the gate, I stand up straight, square my shoulders, and hold my head high, then walk into the pasture like I own the joint.  I have two horses, both mares, the paint mare, Lady, is the Alpha mare, and the chestnut mare, Fancy follows her lead.  Lady knows that when I'm not there she is in charge, and takes that role very seriously.  But she also knows that the second that I step into the pasture, the role of Alpha mare switches from her to me; and for the most part she follows it willingly.  Every once in a while she'll decide that she wants to be Alpha regardless of if I am there or not.  That action from her demands a "Come to Jesus" meeting, and at the end of it, she's good with following me again.  After it is all said and done, I try to figure out what made her try it.  I do not dwell on it while in the pasture, but I will sit in the truck and think about it.  It usually boils down to me losing my concentration on the task at hand, and my body language changing as a result of it.  She views it as a weakness, and tries to take advantage.  She is very quick to remind me to pay attention to my own body language.  As a result of this, I have learned to also pay attention to other people's body language, and gotten quite good at it, I think.  I actually enjoy going to public places, and watching people, just to read their body language.  Give it a try, you will be amazed at what you will see when you are looking for it.

Good luck, happy trails, stay safe, and God bless you and yours.

Until next time,