Continued from page 1
If you're working with a horse that's cunning and known to run over people then you rarely want to lose eye contact with this horse. Sometimes when you look away for just a second he knows it's his chance to charge at you. But keeping eye contact helps minimize that possibility.
Although a horse's ears are part of plan. eyes are how horse interprets his world. The horse gladly desires to approach an object or person that has caused him pleasure. Likewise, he runs from objects or persons that cause him pain. (Pain could be a number of things like work, misuse of aids such as spurs, being talked to in an abrasive manner, etc.)
Lots of horse owners get discouraged with their horse because they develop bad habits. One particular habit is kicking. I once read a great book on horses and it said this about kicking:
If a horse kicks at a man and sees he inspired man with fear and makes him draw back, he will remember this and kick any man who goes near him whom he fears or has memory of displeasure with.
Note author said "...and see he inspired man with fear". The point is horse "saw" man was inspired with fear. The horse used one of his greatest tools...his eyes. If a man shows no fear and knows how to handle a kicker, horse will "see" he cannot inspire fear in man and be less apt to kick (although, if confirmed in habit of kicking, it may require several training sessions to eradicate this from horse's memory).
In short, eyes are mirror of horse's mind. Quiet eyes indicate quietness and sincerity. Quick and lively eye indicate vivacity. Restless eyes turning in all directions indicate suspicion and show horse is studying all around him and may perhaps be preparing some freak of self will. Turbid eyes indicate fear or anger.
There's a proverb that tells us not to trust horse that shows white of his eyes. Perhaps it's because white shows when he's looking sideways and he's intent on seizing moment when no attention is being paid for escape or attack.
I could go on about eyes but this hopefully gives you a great idea as to how important horse's eyes are. Make it a habit to continually watch horse's eyes. Learn what he is thinking by learning his eyes.
Andy Curry is a nationally known horse trainer and author of several best selling horse training and horse care books. For information visit his website at www.horsetrainingandtips.com. He is also the leading expert on Jesse Beery's horse training methods which can be seen at www.horsetrainingandtips.com/Jesse_Beerya.