(NOTICE: Photos of Harrison Lake, British Columbia and Canadian Geese have absolutely no relation what-so-ever to the Great Equine Body Language Experiment and as such have no place herein....however, I like'em. I wanted to post'em. And so I did! *sticks tongue out*)
But in order to analysing a single snapshot in time we did have to presume a lot, didn't we? And as such there is a large margin for error. We didn't know what happened before or after this photo was taken...but in that split second we all managed to come to a fairly common consensus.
Which is really quite fascinating when you think about it! This horse is not speaking! What we can see in this photo is the frame and bend of his body, the position of his hip and shoulder, the break of his poll, and the set of his ear. And yet, from these simple visual cues we all came up with a like minded interpretation!
Here are the results:
- "I am thinking I know what you want me to do, I am willing and responding to the handler. I am stepping away, paying attention to the handler"
- yielded, respectful, listening. Notice the slack rein, the outside hind leg stepping wide with the inside leg to follow (away from the handler) the cocked ear to the handler.
- The horse is watching his handler. He is alert and paying attention to what is asked of him. He seems to be saying, "You'd like me to (swing my hind end out, turn towards you, etc)?
- I would say this horse is being submissive.
- I think this horse is listening, attentive and thinking about what is being asked of him. He is not stressed, but he is not quite relaxed either because he is engaged in trying to perform what is asked.
-That horse has his inside ear turned into the man, so I would say he was paying attention to the man. His nose and face seem relaxed, so I would say slightly alert but calm.
- Attentive and listening...
- I think this horse is saying "I'm not sure of you ... I think this horse is saying "I'm not sure of you but I am interested in you".
-It's kind of hard for me to tell exactly what this horse is thinking, because I can't tell if it's eyelids are wrinkled or if its nostrils are tense or relaxed or if he is licking and chewing, but I do think that he appears somewhat bored. He has one ear on the handler, and one on the camera man, and he may be trying to come off as being stubborn or thinking that this whole training thing is stupid.
...Or he may be nervous and that is why one ear is on the trainer and one is on the camera man. He is definitely not focusing entirely on his handler or the task at hand, and again, it may be due to boredom, stubbornness, or nervousness.
So, there you have it. I must actually see him in person to accurately read this particular horses expression. Maybe because his face is so mottled and I can't read his eyes. You can tell SO MUCH by what their eyes are saying. Sometimes their eyes say more than, or different things than their body language.
- What I see is a horse that is being asked to give to pressure-both by bending and flexing in his poll and by moving his body.
He is using his monocular vision-with his inside (left) eye and ear directed at the man asking for the movement beside him and his right eye and ear looking forward to see where he is going. At this exact moment he looks attentive and thoughtful and appears to be quietly attempting what is being asked of him.
- I'm gonna say he looks a bit unsure, but still trusting and open. He's searching for a direction/what is being asked.
What do you think, do horses lie?
Thanks again for playing along!