2018 Series 3

Body Language Fundamentals

Week 5:  equine body language

As part of the conversation between horse and human


May 28 - June 3, 2018

course content for week 5:

equine body language

Welcome to week 5!

Introduction to week 5


Welcome to week 5 video:

Course Content for Week 5:

equine body language


Links to PDF Documents for week :

PDF: Equine Body Language: as part of a conversation between horse and human

Audio Transcript:

video demonstrations:

Following is the 6th session I did with Kastani over the course of 8 days.

You'll notice that he is much more willing to move and there is a lot of conversation that takes place around what kind of conversation we're going to have. He wants to follow me around and I would like him to go out around me, for several reasons. One because I keep feeling he's guiding me to something in his body that's interfering with his ability to accept contact and take direction when his head is involved. If he goes out around me I can see how he's moving. Two, I'd like to get him walking and trotting more so that he can start building a bit more stamina for our soon to happen desert walks and maybe rides.

You'll notice when I get him out around me I keep my hand that's closest to his head fairly high a lot of the time. Please don't go out and emulate that. It's not a technique I use all the time, it is something I was doing to extend my posture more up and encourage him to come more up in front rather than lower his head as he trotted around. The reason being that he was stumbling all over himself when he lowered his head and neck so I wanted him to find the rhythm in the trot with more balance control. He'll eventually be able to stretch down without falling too much on his forehand but not now. So the high hand has a very specific purpose for this situation.

I also use the tail end of the rope from time to time to extend my energy or give him a tap on his shoulder to remind him not to fall in on the circle. All tactile and visual feedback in hopes he can find better balance. I could just as easily use a whip to touch the spots I'd like him more aware of.

Make a note of how much more he's with me in this session versus the first sessions. One way I know I'm on a good track with what I'm doing is when my horses become ever more willing to be haltered and ever more engaged in the process of developing a dialogue with me.

Introduction to the concept of balance and another aspect of setting the tone

So, some of you have already seen this video. If you haven't yet, you're in for the treat of getting to see Steve and I acting and dancing. Sometimes it's easier and has more impact when we see how things affect another human than when we are working with our horses. This video may give you more context both for why I have been working to support Kastani in finding better balance AND why I have taken so much time with haltering him (or the invitation to dance with me).

After watching this video if you go re-visit the series of clips I put together of just me catching Kastani I think it'll give you more perspective on the whole thing!

haltering kastani over 5 sessions:

Here you'll find all the clips of me haltering Kastani between May 18 and 25. What I'd like you to notice is that it took me nearly 8 minutes to get to the point where Kastani offered to put his head in the halter on the first day and less than a minute and a half by the 5th day. Also notice how he reacts post haltering. On the first few days he goes right back to eating and by the 5th day he's right with me, and he's on pasture.

What I hope you'll take away from this is how the process of haltering is, in fact the beginning of our session with our horses. It doesn't start once we get to the arena it starts when we go out to get them. This is the interaction that sets the tone for the rest of the session. I can either let him know I'm listening or that I'm not. He'll respond accordingly for the rest of the session.

I love the first image on the video below. Kastani looks so skeptical. I'm so glad that's changing.

Please pay close attention to my body language, posture and tone and his responses to me. This is a conversation in action. It's not always perfect. Sometimes I have to be willing to experiment to figure out what's going to work for us. We're feeling each other out and developing our unique language with one another.

For week 5 please pay extra attention to Kastani's body language and posture. What do you see and feel from one clip to the next? Do you see any changes overall in his response to being haltered? How about his posture and facial expressions?