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Looking a Horse in the Eye

Eye contact is very powerful when working with a horse, but you may be surprised at the effect that it can have.

Horses communicate with each other using gestures that form a language clinician Monty Roberts calls Equus. Humans can use this language too, but it can be very foreign to us. For instance, Monty says that when you look your horse in the eye, you're telling it to go away. Some people have a hard time accepting this.

"People just don't seem to understand that because we anthropomorphize to the extent that we human beings want to be able to look our horse in the eye just as we look our friends in the eye when we speak with them. And we think, 'Well, it's rude to look away when you're having a conversation.' And they'll often say to me, 'When can I look my horse in the eye and not have it go away?' Well, you want to change the language now. That's 50 million years of age."

According to Monty, dropping your eyes away is the gesture for inviting your horse to come to you.


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