A picture tells a thousand words, isn’t that how the saying goes? Yet so often we see pictures and videos of animals posted and the captions have completely misinterpreted what’s actually going on.
What are the first impressions of this shot to the less well informed? Oh look, how sweet, the donkey and horse are friends and are sharing the bucket? Look again!
Look at the weight distribution. Rosie, the horse, stands four square, her weight is balanced centrally, she is comfortable. Compare this to Donkey. Donkey is leaning back as he creeps and reaches forward. Donkey is balanced in such a way that he is ready to jump back and spin away in a breath.
Look at the ears. Rosie’s ears tell us that she is very much paying attention to Donkey’s movements. Donkey’s ears are leaned back, like the rest of him, trying to step into Rosie’s space as little as possible, while still getting that all important muzzle onto the edge of the lick bucket.
What about the eyes? Donkey’s eyes are half closed, much in the manner of someone reaching out to touch something that they just know is going to hurt.
So what happens next? After several quietly and delicately persistent tries, does Rosie let him have the lick bucket?
Does she indeed!
What do you think?!
It’s really important that we learn to correctly read the body language of the animals we share our lives with, not least because having the ability to understand and interpret behaviour and motivation means that we can keep ourselves, our animals, and those around us safe. So often I hear clients say ‘it just happened out of the blue’- but it rarely, if ever, does. There are always the subtle signs and indications that signpost the next step, we just need to learn to see them. If you’d like to learn more about equine body language and how to read it, email me on firstname.lastname@example.org and I’ll let you know about upcoming workshop, webinar and lecture dates.