2018 Series 3

Body Language: Fundamentals

body language as a physical, visual, visceral form of communication

April 30 - June 3, 2018

course content

Welcome!  Here you will find all of the content for the Body Language Fundamentals Course in the order in which it is presented in class.


Summary of Session 3 Body Language fundamentals:

Body Language as a physical, visual, visceral form of communication

“The body says what words cannot.” - Martha Graham

Horses are acutely aware, communicating with each other primarily through the non-verbal language of the body. That means they are also acutely aware of our body language, so much so that they pick up on the tiniest of nuances. 

A horse’s instinct is to respond to what they read in us on a multi-sensory level.  Body language includes posture, stance, gestures, facial expressions, movement, and emotions.  Horses respond instinctively to what they sense, acting on input without thinking or rationalizing.  Studies proving how perceptive horses are continue to be published.  The more we learn the more we recognize subtle signs of stress that impact our horse’s health and well-being.

If we want to have a genuine dialogue with our horses we must learn to communicate more fluently in the language that is innate to our horses.  We must become more conscious about what we are saying as we chatter away non-verbally at them!  I believe one of the biggest stressors in a horse’s life is being punished for responding accurately to body language most people don’t even know they are transmitting. 

Even among humans, studies show people are more influenced by body language than words.  The body doesn’t lie.  How we feel physically, what we think, and our emotions all show up in our body. Our posture, movement and the electromagnetic fields of our organs reflect a deeper truth.  A truth that shows up unbidden, much like a reflex. 

Is it any wonder that horses are so sought after for aiding in human mental health programs?  Horses respond to our inner truth. They feel uncomfortable when our outside doesn’t match our inside. When we are able to be consistent and honest what we feel on the inside matches what we project on the outside and horses feel safe. 

We could spend a lifetime learning about what our horses are telling us via their body language.  Just look at Gin in the photos above.  Her facial expression, body position, posture, gestures of her ears and eyes and nose – so many things change from one image to the next!  It’s all communication.

But notice, just as many small things change in me in each image! 

Over the next five weeks we are going to learn to interpret our horse’s body language as a reflection of what we are communicating to them.  We are going to learn to be aware of what we are saying and take conscious control of our own bodies so that we can communicate clearly - in a language our horses understand instinctively!

Links to weekly course content for session 3

Week 1:  Body language and body awareness