Originally Posted by Flyinghigh12
It may look like their sniffing the ground but really what their doing is submitting to you, and telling you that you are the alfa.
Its kinda like a dog rolling on its back so you can pet it, haha.
. I think that this body language may often be submissive, but it may be just sniffing. Whether it's submissive or not, the horse telling you that you're 'the boss' or not, I also don't think that it necessarily denotes 'respect', as especially with 'round pen' type exercises, the horse may be doing this out of fear/hopelessness. I think it's important to understand all
the bodylanguage that is going on, as taking one signal like that may lead you to the wrong conclusion.
I don't think it's appropriate to compare equine behaviour to dog behaviour, especially when talking about 'dominance' & 'submission'. Also there is so much unfounded speculation about dog/wolf/human behaviour in this regard, and I think the above is another example of something that ain't necessarily so, and isn't necessarily very helpful. For eg. A dog may well roll on it's back to demonstrate submission when it's afraid. It may also roll on it's back confidently & get a belly rub. It may also roll on it's back to instigate
a belly rub, because it knows this behaviour causes you to give it a rub - that is, the dog is in control of the situation, is demanding attention.
Generally speaking, I don't really buy into the dominance theory much, for either species. I'm quite comfortable with the dog/horse feeling in control of the situation, so long as it doesn't interfere with the desirable behaviour I want. For eg. If the horse thinks he's training me to give him scratchies, treats, whatever, and cueing me with 'polite' behaviour, that's fine by me. I think trust & *mutual* respectful behaviour is important, and I think it's also vital(for safety if nothing else) that you can be the leader in the partnership when necessary, but I think this is completely different to the dominance/submission concept.