How do they think?
I'm perplexed by the way horses react and move about daily. One thing seems predominant: they think in pictures, they are highly detailed creatures.
This makes me wonder if most people have a difficult time relating to their animal because humans are generalizing, worded thinkers. Apparently thinking in words surpresses visual thoughts. Fear, however, is like a disease and easily spreads to more than one thing; for example, my neighbor's sheep steadily went from being terrified of my horse's play ball to anything circular. It makes sense, as I've discovered first-hand that a horse can stand for blanketing in a paddock but not in pasture or the cross ties.
I thought about this when I was trying to deal with my mare's peeve: she walks without a hitch as long as she has not been trotted or cantered for more than five minutes. After working at the higher gait, she walks a few strides and moves into trot on lunge or under saddle. When given a signal to refrain (repeat "walk" verbally, close hands, sit deeper, etc.) she automatically tenses and jigs. She used to only stiffly trot from a walk after she was trotted, not cantered, but the behavior spread out. Circling her did nothing but wait out her trot, walk a few strides, and back to square one again, basically using any aid made her tense. Now, I've had her health checked religiously, and given her all the treatments for muscle relaxation as needed. She just has a mental tension. So, one day I was having a bit of trouble balancing correctly when she stiffened, so as I put her on a circle I closed my leg on her and kept it there until she walked.
After doing that, she dropped to a walk and went on walking for some laps, instead of just a few strides.
It made me wonder if she was having a problem transitioning mentally like I do (I have Asperger's). According to Temple Grandin, animals and Aspies have a lot in common. I know that this jigging only started happening after we fixed choppy walk2trot transitions til they were smooth as could be and started coming up more frequently when other downward transitions became smoother. What I did differently was I put my leg on, squared myself, and steadily asked for the downward shift. The first time, she would tense up and try speeding through. So maybe, she figured that me putting my rein and leg on was no cause for concern for the transition, but taking them off was a problem. Perhaps she doesn't feel secure when I loosen my contact on her...? I tend to be very light with my hands and unintentionally keep my lower leg off her.
Just being reflective. Any thoughts?