Horse Human Connection
That horses and humans can communicate at all is a miracle considering horses are prey animals while we are predators. Yet for thousands of years, we have done just that. In this article I am going to explore how this communication comes about between these two very different species. Horses primary form of communication is through body language. The smallest movement of an ear or change in posture can mean a lot to other horses, and to us too if we are aware. Horses are constantly communicating through body language. Being present with your horse, noticing these small communications and responding appropriately is essential for effective communication. They are reading our body language all the time, that is the nature of the horse. When we listen to their body language and use our own body language to talk back, this is communication. Horses are not capable of making words to communicate with us, but we can learn their body language and communicating with them through that. Horses are extremely sensitive to touch. Their entire bodies are covered with sensitive receptor cells. These send a constant stream of information to the brain. When we touch a horse, this is a very loud form of communication for them. How we touch is important and says a lot about us as horse people. If we touch or apply pressure harshly, we overload the horses’ receptors. They will either have a huge reaction, more than we want, or will shut down perception to that area and ignore the touch. Either of these options is undesirable. When touching we need to respect the incredible sensitivity horses have. This applies to all handling, grooming and application of aids. On an emotional level, horses are like us, but with a greater tendency to respond fearfully to situations due to being a prey animal. Horses feel love, joy, sadness, grief, and all the other emotions. They have an uncanny way of knowing how a human is feeling, many consider them to be empaths. If a person is not being honest with how they are feeling, a horse will know. Horses require us to be congruent with our emotions when we are with them. Unlike us, horses are not able to ‘pretend’ to feel one way while feeling another, they are true to how they are feeling in the moment. We can communicate with horses energetically. Being prey animals, horses are very aware of energy levels, in horses, people, and other animals. If we are highly wired when with horses, they respond with nervousness. The ability to perceive heightened energy states in others is a survival tool for horses. If one horse sees movement in the bushes, everyone gets the message immediately and is ready to run, as energy transmits instantly. When a horse’s energy is raised, we have two options. We can raise our energy, which confirms to the horse there is a potentially threatening situation, or we can consciously drop our own energy levels, indicating that all is well and there is nothing to fear. We can soothe horses in any situation by doing this. Deep breathing, dropping the shoulders and calming our thinking are all helpful. Horses are intelligent and can learn a wide variety of skills, as evidenced by the numerous different roles they play within the human world. Human brains have evolved for predation, our prefrontal brain cortex is used for strategy and reasoning. Horses’ brains have evolved for environmental perception and survival. When these two species come together and have brain to brain communication, they both have the potential to experience enhanced perception and understanding of the world. Communication between humans and horses exists on many planes, and I have not even touched on training or animal communication. This partnership is so effective not because they are similar, but because they are so different. Not expecting horses to behave as a human would, but opening ourselves to their unique perspective and to this interspecies communication is one of the most fulfilling experiences we can have, with huge benefits for all.