2018 Free Introduction to Body Language:
What does a body language based conversation between horse and human look like?
You’ll get to know Gin pretty well in these next few weeks. Gin was my first and best teacher in this way of communicating. She simply would not put up with playing games or being bullied. She’ll be our primary guide this week in showing us how she responds to subtle shifts in human body language. Here’s one example.
This is is one of my favorite images of Gin and I. Taken early on in my explorations of giving my horses a voice, it was such a cool moment to capture. If you look closely you’ll see that we are in sync right down to the gestures of our feet.
Our connection in this moment was so soft and light. Light on the inside and the outside. This kind of synchronous movement can’t be forced. It only happens when horse and human are flowing naturally together. Our conversation on this day did not start out with this level of connection. This level of connection came about as a result of a conversation.
A conversation through body language, resulting in shared movement.
Though we are connected by a halter and lead, I never pulled or drove or coerced. Given she started out so skeptical, how did we ultimately end up so nicely in sync? We ended up so nicely in sync because Gin communicated with me through her movement and gestures, and I communicated with her through mine. We had a conversation based on the body language inherent in moving together.
Horses are masters of this non-verbal language of the body. They speak to each other with small movements and gestures. Every cock of an ear, tilt of a hip, or squint of an eye means something. We might spend a lifetime learning to listen to our horses! Look at Gin in these images – see how she tilts her head away, the position of her ears and the look in her eye in the first image. See how all of those things change in each image? Each movement and gesture encompass her way of communicating how she feels about what I’m suggesting in each moment.
Now notice my body language. I notice and respond to all of her gestures. I’m listening to her side of the conversation, but not passively. I am asking or answering questions in response to her feedback, just as she is asking or answering my questions in how she responds. It’s a conversation in which we both have a voice. Neither of us is so passive as to be unresponsive to the other. If we were, there would be no conversation.
There are a great many things that impact our ability to connect and move together with horses! One key to harmoniously shared movement is that both horse and human speak fluently the unspoken language of the body.
Let’s take a closer look at our side of the conversation, because, unless we understand what we are unconsciously communicating we won’t be able to make sense of what makes a partnership in movement fluid, fluent and lovely - or hesitant, bumpy and jarring!