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Talking Horses
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Pintado1
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 Posted: Thu Apr 23rd, 2015 12:55 am
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My guess is Alan (the original poster) is seeing more of this for two reasons. One, he has mares, foals and stallions on the property (I gather). The horses are in a situation where they will want to communicate to each other more, and that probably spills over to being more alert to communicating with humans more. The few times someone has brought a weanling to our barn, all the horses have been falling over themselves wanting to come up, say hello, interact. It's just like someone bringing a baby into the office, when everyone comes jumping out of their cubicles cooing and oohing and ahhing. The rest of the time they're just kinda half asleep doing their thing (horses and office workers both).

The second thing, is it sounds like Alan's doing a lot of liberty or ground work. This I think increases the horse's sense that things humans are saying and doing might have meaning. I think that most of what we say and do around horses is white noise, unless we are very careful about our voice and body language (this might be why many horses are so surprisngly tolerant of autistic children. Maybe we all seem a bit autistic to them, and are constantly missing the most obvious cues of ears, tail, body stance, etc). I found once I started doing liberty and trick training, my horse looked at me in a different way, as if she'd decided I wasn't quite as dim as she'd thought.

I think the more you figure out ways to communicate with horses, the more they try to communicate back. Horses that don't expect their humans to understand anything much do stop trying.

ilam
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 Posted: Thu Apr 23rd, 2015 09:47 pm
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Mare`s Tales wrote:Funny that I always thought of Tom Dorrance as having qualities of a Zen master, a calmness from deep within that transferred to the horses, even from a distance. The article`s recommendation of surrounding yourself with centered/sured people hit home.

I also find it odd too, how so many things in life that you never thought mattered to your horsemanship, can connect.
 

See also this article, saw that posted earlier this week: http://ucdavis.edu/ucdavis-today/2015/february/03-foals.html    Maybe this is what happened with your foal that day?

Isabel

Last edited on Thu Apr 23rd, 2015 09:52 pm by ilam

ilam
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 Posted: Thu Apr 23rd, 2015 09:50 pm
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I was trying to get the quote above and my reply to work correctly, and now it won't let my delete this post. Sorry...

Isabel

Last edited on Thu Apr 23rd, 2015 09:52 pm by ilam

ilam
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 Posted: Thu Apr 23rd, 2015 10:35 pm
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DrDeb wrote:
Allen, I know that you are aware of Henry Blake's books; anyone else who may not be, then I do suggest that you go get anything by Henry Blake that you can get your hands on. For Blake, more than any other author, talks about how horses talk -- to us, and to each other.

My own belief is that horses have two main modes of communication. One is the 'ordinary' mode, i.e. one that obeys the laws we normally associate with this physical universe. So of course horses snort -- they have muscles both inside of and outside of their noses which permit them a wide range of sound modulation, i.e. a sound 'vocabulary', everything from the softest of chuckles or whickers which just flutter the nostrils and which are barely audible to us humans, to loud reverberating snorts, sneezes, and whistles. It is acknowledged by researchers (not behavioralists, whose work I universally distrust, but field biologists and zoologists studying how animals change when they are taken from the wild into domestication) that wolves do not bark. And yet wolves are certainly the ancestors of the domestic dog. These same reliable researchers think that dogs learned to bark in imitation of human speech -- not only as a way to communicate with humans, but also as a way to get our attention when the dog thinks it needs to!

Besides nasal sounds, horses also of course use their larynx to produce voiced neighs, whickers, grunts, chuckles, roars, and laugh-like sounds. And, likewise on the 'ordinary' physical plane, all of you who have read the 'Birdie Book' know they have an extensive vocabulary composed of physical posturings, of which 'ears laid back' is only the first and most obvious 'phrase'. One major point made in the BB is that to be a competent horseman or horsewoman, you really need to learn how to 'read' equine body language.

Now, the second, and I think even more significant level where horses communicate is by mental pictures. It took me many years, and several thumps over the head by my old friend and mentor Dr. Matthew Mackay-Smith, to realize that not every person has this ability or is very strong in this area. I am an artist as well as a scientist, so it never occurred to me that people who might read something I wrote would simply not be able to picture it in their mind's eye. Dr. Matthew had to thump me to get me to believe that my own ability to do this is not a common talent, when I would have figured that everybody was created equal in this area. When I came to realize that Dr. Matthew was correct, I began adding much more in the way of visual imagery to everything I publish, in order to help people to 'see' who cannot easily construct 3D images or scenes, or rotate and move them in their head.

One of the points made again and again by Baucher, as well as by some later riding instructors, is that in order to be fair to your horse, you have to tell him what you want him to do some time before you expect him to do it. Baucher says, 'your job on horseback is to make what you want your horse to do as easy and as obvious to him as possible.' Ray Hunt says, 'you fix it up, and let him find it' and also 'set the horse up, and let him do it.'

What all of this comes down to is that the rider must pre-visualize. In simple terms, if you are riding along the rail in the arena, approaching a corner, you need to visualize the horse bending his body before he arrives in the corner. You can do more than visualize also, i.e. twirl the head, cause him to untrack with the inside hind leg, put your outside eye over his outside ear, and so forth. But the MAIN aid is that you picture your horse executing a perfect corner before you get into the corner.

Furthermore, when students ask 'how am I supposed to get my horse to untrack', I start talking to them about their 'plasma leg' or else talk to them about 'the energy that is coming out of the calf of your leg'. I ask them if they used to read comic books as a kid, and did they read the 'Fantastic Four' and do they remember Stretch. All of this is to get them to picture this plasma arm coming out of the calf of their leg, reaching in an arc around to touch the horse on the thigh to help him step a little more under his body-shadow. But in reality, none of this type of teaching will work if the student refuses to 'believe' -- in other words, if she thinks it's too silly or too dumb and so what she really refuses to do is to get into it, she refuses to visualize.

And this is understandable, because visualization -- particularly for people who don't practice it every day, every hour of every day -- is very hard work. And a lot of people don't want to bother to going to any kind of hard work in order to help their horse to do his work better; they just want the horse to take them for a ride.

Now my point in all of this is that, for those who ARE willing to work on clarifying their inner pictures, 'plasma' aids really work wonderfully, because they are, you might say, broadcasting on the horse's main channel, which is a picture channel that has no words at all. So when Allen talks about his horses snorting in reply, I believe him for the same reason that I believe that dogs bark in imitation of human speech. But if you read J. Allen Boone's "Kinship with All Life", it will become breathtakingly obvious that Strongheart only resorted to barking when he could not get Boone to 'tune in' to the preferred channel of inner visualization, mutual visualization.

Now I am going to tell a story, and the first thing I want to say is that this story taught me many things that I am not likely to forget while I live. It was in New Zealand when I was down there a number of years ago, and we were scheduled to teach the carcass dissection class. Of course, for this we accept donations of animals that are going to be euthanatized or that have recently been euthanatized because they died of colic or some other cause in a veterinary clinic. We then take the carcasses and use them for one final purpose, to help better educate all kinds of people whose business or whose calling it is to be in the horse world.

Well, the specimen in this case was a tiny white pony. It was old and blind and the owner had notified the veterinarian that she had decided that the pony's quality of life was not good. I met the vet at the owner's place. There was the pony standing in a paddock with its best friend, a full-sized TB mare. We put the halter on the pony and led it up into a horse trailer. The TB mare watched us calmly. Then the vet put the drugs in and the pony died, and its spirit went out of its body.

As soon as I knew the spirit was gone, the TB mare also knew it. She could plainly see the pony's body lying in the open back of the trailer, but that was not what she was looking for. The body was just an object. So she whirled and peered and ran all over the paddock, looking and calling out loud for her little friend, but her little friend was not there.

This convinced me, as nothing else has ever done, that horses don't really care too much about the physical body. They see -- or perhaps we had better say, they 'perceive' -- the inner essence, the spirit -- whatever you want to call that energy or that glow that emanates from the inside of the body. This is what my horse 'sees' when I walk up to him, and this is what he 'feels' when I am aiding him.

'The outside of a horse is good for the inside of a man' said Winston Churchill. True; but I think even more true is that the inside of a man had better be very good stuff before it is at all good for any part of a horse. For this reason, it does really matter to me that the teachers and clinicians that I recommend be commendable people, 'large of spirit', of good character.

Now, on a lighter note, I want to append this bit from last Sunday's newspaper -- because anything we have been saying here certainly applies to all animals, even houseflies, as J. Allen Boone so evocatively notices. The piece is entitled 'Tail Walking Amusement', and I am certain that Allen is going to appreciate this after all he has said about his more experienced horses teaching the foals:

'Dolphins off southern Australia appear to be learning to "walk" on the surface of the water with their tails and seem to be doing it just for fun. Researcher Mike Bossley of the Whale and Dolphin Conservation Society says he first observed two adult female dolphins demonstrating the spectacular tail-walking on Adelaide's Port River. One of the dolphins is said to have learned the trick while briefly held at a marine park. It later taught the other female the trick after being released back into the wild. The tail-walking behavior is being picked up by the wider dolphin community, according to WDCS. "As far as we are aware, tail-walking has no practical function and is performed just for fun, akin to human dancing or gymnastics," Bossley said.'

 
I just read this post for the first time, never came across it when rummaging around this forum. This is just beautiful, I just wanted this to be on top of the thread once more :-) Sometimes these gems get lost in the threads.

I had an experience with my old dog passing where we connected just before. I know his spirit left to go somewhere. My current GSD puppy is very in tune with people, and I have heard her make sounds that leaves no doubt to me that she is imitating human speech, tone that is. She only uses it when she needs to (it makes me laugh). I think about Strongheart a lot as I watch her growing up. Just this morning she helped me herd/move the baby donkey where I wanted him to be, and come to think of it, I visualized it and there she was, in perfect position to help me get it accomplished. I have had my older horse, and another time momma donkey, help me out this way - when working on teaching one of the donkeys to lead. I visualized it, thinking how I could really use a little help/encouragement from behind just now, and there they were: in perfect position, helping, encouraging and showing the donkey what I wanted them to do. It was clear they understood what was going on and this happened on 3 occasions at least, different animals of my little herd.

My Arab often snorts a lot when we start riding or when he gets bothered about something, in his case it does not appear to mean relaxation. It seems to me as if he is trying to talk to me about something, and because I am sitting up there he cannot use the body language he would normally use. Hopefully finally after this last Buck clinic I am finally on to what this is about. I still need more time to figure it out to be sure, though.

Isabel

Last edited on Thu Apr 23rd, 2015 10:47 pm by ilam

Pintado1
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 Posted: Fri May 1st, 2015 08:24 am
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As far as horses thinking in pictures, there's two separate halves to this question. One is, do they pick up what we're thinking? And two is, if they do, are they necessarily going to agree or obey us? For instance, my mare knows verbal commands for walk trot canter whoa on the longe line perfectly well. But if she is having a lazy day, she will need to see a shake of a whip before she trots or canters.

So the other night, I was leaning against the stall wall while the mare was looking out into the aisle, hoping food might appear. She is friendly and confident, but not particularly cuddly or itchy. Sometimes when I brush her at liberty, she moves forward to direct me to groom or wash her tail and butt, which is what she most enjoys. But sometimes late at night she will come very close, drop her head, rest an inch away from my chest, and doze.

That night, I decided to see if I could send a signal to her to do that, approach me and hang out. I turned my body sideways to her, looked away, and tried to send a picture of her dropping her head to my chest. After about ten seconds, she started to shift and move backwards. But when I looked up, she was parking her big itchy butt in my face, not her head. So I'd say she got the communication, but she just interpreted it her own way.

JTB
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 Posted: Tue Sep 4th, 2018 03:08 am
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Bumping it so I can find it again. :-)


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