What If Your Horse Could Talk To You?

Have you ever wondered what your horse would tell you if he could speak? Have you ever had the feeling that you ARE communicating with your horse even though he never said a word to you? Do you believe that there is a certain form of communication that cannot be explained?

Hi there!

I am a firm believer that horses talk to us. It was no surprise that this week new study results came up saying that horses can interact with humans in order to get what they want (i.e. the feed bucket). They use whatever to get your attention and turn your eyes on the feed bucket - the study showed that horses looked at the human, started to throw their heads or anything similar and look in the direction of the feed bucket.

Referential communication occurs when a sender elaborates its gestures to direct the attention of a recipient to its role in pursuit of the desired goal, e.g. by pointing or showing an object, thereby informing the recipient what it wants. If the gesture is successful, the sender and the recipient focus their attention simultaneously on a third entity, the target. Here we investigated the ability of domestic horses (Equus caballus) to communicate referentially with a human observer about the location of a desired target, a bucket of food out of reach. In order to test six operational criteria of referential communication, we manipulated the recipient's (experimenter) attentional state in four experimental conditions: frontally oriented, backward oriented, walking away from the arena and frontally oriented with other helpers present in the arena. The rate of gaze alternation was higher in the frontally oriented condition than in all the others. The horses appeared to use both indicative (pointing) and non-indicative (nods and shakes) head gestures in the relevant test conditions. Horses also elaborated their communication by switching from a visual to a tactile signal and demonstrated perseverance in their communication. The results of the tests revealed that horses used referential gestures to manipulate the attention of a human recipient so to obtain an unreachable resource. These are the first such findings in an ungulate species. Source: Malavasi R, Huber LEvidence of heterospecific referential communication from domestic horses (Equus caballus) to humans.


All the results of this study seemed to surprise scientists as they did not believe that horses were capable of doing this. Knowing that A leads to B. Finding a way to get what they want. I knew that already way before this study as Hafl shows the same behavior. So, this was not a surprise and most Haflinger owners would agree: Haflingers can be very creative when it comes to food.

But do you also think that horses try to communicate with us in another way and form? And also when there is no food involved? I do. Of course, they won't tell you about their hard day at work, how bad traffic was etc. But I am sure that there are certain feelings they can and would express. Why should only humans be able to communicate these? Reading a horse is way more difficult than just listening to a human. Their facial expressions, their ears tell all and are yet so subtle that you really need to know them well. Sometimes I just sit there and watch him and imagine what he is thinking. Scientists say that you should not do that as they are not capable of having such thoughts, that you turn them into humans when they are not. Honestly, that might be true to a certain extent. But I could never agree to that totally.

Yes, I know what you mean...

So it was really exciting when I virtually met Sam Buckland from Salamander Therapies. She was looking for some testimonials for long distance animal communication. Despite being super skeptic, I asked her to "talk" to Hafl. I had to fill in a form but I did not tell her much about him (I heard before that when you go to a fortune teller, most of the times you tell them so much that they simply have to count 1+1 together and tell you what you want to hear - no way I was giving away too much information here). And then she told me when she was about to "talk" to him.

After that, she send me an email with her insights. According to her, Hafl loves to freejump which is totally true even though he gets super angry when he misses a distance and then refuses to do anything at all. That was, also according to Sam, one of his traits anyway: being too hard on himself. Again, that is something that I always felt and always kinda knew as I am definitely the same. She also said that he loves to compete - who else has a horse that is so relaxed at shows that he lays down flat and enjoys everybody else going home already? Definitely only Hafl is that relaxed. Our second show this year, his stall was on the opposite site of my trainer's mare who used to be super excited at shows and especially in temporary stables. But with watching Hafl, she immediately calmed down and was as relaxed as never before.

Sam was also so kind to check chakras out of balance. I am no expert on these but when she told me which chakras needed rebalancing and told me what they stand for, I could at least for every chakra that needed some care find one reason for it. The heart chakra stands for Hafl's immune system which is of course not the best due to his chronic illness. His base chakra showed imbalances due to the hoof injury he got last year (which I thought was no big deal back then). Due to his itching mane and tail which always shows up in spring/early summer, we also rebalanced his throat chakra.

It also surprised me that Sam found acupressure points that needed balancing. There was the one for the hind quarters (remember, also my physio told me that there was some stress in his muscles there), one for head and neck, one for clearing heart and mind and last but not least, one for the relief of hoof pains. I had nothing to add and was happy that she did not find anything else than what the physiotherapist had found before.

What do you mean?

Sam also advised me on which essential oils to use on Hafl and how. I was never a fan of essential oils as I cannot stand the smell but she said that I only have to offer him the bottles, he would inhale as much as he needed and walk away afterwards. Honestly, I could not stand him being soaked in whatever flavor for days. So that was a huge learning for me.

Amazing what she could find out and how she worked with him. The most surprising thing was that she planned to talk to him again another Sunday and when we got to the barn, I approached him asking the question: Has Sam talked to you yet? And hearing the name Sam, he immediately lifted his head and looked in my direction. You could say it was a coincidence but honestly, he has not heard the name before as nobody around here is called Sam. And I could see in the way he looked at me that he remembered this name. Again, scientists would say that I am just interpreting. Might be true, but I don't think so. After all I have seen now, I am more convinced than ever that there is more between animals and human than we believe or understand. Sure, they won't "talk" to us but nonetheless, we need to listen carefully to understand.

I want to thank Sam once more for this great insight. After her sessions, I knew that we were on the right way and that he enjoys what he is supposed to be doing. I understand that you are skeptic but let it happen - you might be surprised like me.

No words needed...


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