"look at the eyes, watch his eyes" = ___? - The Horse Forum
LinkBack Thread Tools
post #1 of 14 Old 08-16-2013, 11:33 AM Thread Starter
Super Moderator
Join Date: Jul 2008
Location: Oregon
Posts: 7,705
• Horses: 2
"look at the eyes, watch his eyes" = ___?

Basically the title.

I've recently started working at a barn where my 'boss' seems to be SUPER into Parelli.
Well, at least, Parelli is what she seems to return to whenever she has an issue....but she also isn't super horse savvy. She's relatively horse savvy but you know.

Anyway, I have never had any real contact with Parelli ideas, pure Parelli or not, before this and that is pretty much creating my question:

Whenever my boss comes out to "watch" what I'm doing, if I'm desensitizing she'll be constantly 'reminding' me to "watch the eyes!! don't take your eyes off his eyes!"

And I really don't understand it. I've asked her to explain but she says things like "you can tell what they're about to do before they do it from the way they're holding their eyes!"

Personally, I just watch the body language the horse is giving me.
I find that eye-shape can be influenced so much by other outside things - hunger, pain, etc...and it really confuses me why eyes would be better than body language.

Anyway, I would really like to understand the thinking behind "watch the eyes!" It seems that it must be some kind of 'big' principle since she says it so much....
Not trying to bash, I just don't come from the same place training-wise that she does and I would like to at least understand why the eyes are SO important to her....even if I don't choose to use it.


Fabio - 13 year old Arabian/Lipizzan gelding

Rest peacefully, Lacey.
Wallaby is offline  
Sponsored Links
post #2 of 14 Old 08-16-2013, 12:12 PM
Join Date: Oct 2012
Location: NW Oregon
Posts: 2,380
• Horses: 0
Originally Posted by Wallaby View Post
....but she also isn't super horse savvy. She's relatively horse savvy but you know.
Yeah...we know! Oh well, whatever works for 'em, huh?

I think I'd depend on body language. You know, even with people it's mostly facial expression and body language that tells us more about what they may be thinking or their attitude. With horses, one can see where they are looking but it's seems to be it's more the turn of the head, ear position, whatever, that gives us information. But then, maybe I'm just a dim bulb and don't get it.

If you ever find yourself in a fair fight, it's because your tactics suck. ~ Marine 1SGT J. Reifinger
Dustbunny is offline  
post #3 of 14 Old 08-16-2013, 01:04 PM
Super Moderator
Join Date: May 2012
Location: CT USA an English transplant
Posts: 24,587
• Horses: 3
I'm more for body language and understanding what they are saying with their ears too
Personally speaking my own eyesight is so bad I'd have to be really close to them to distinguish one 'look' from another as far as their eyes went
Wallaby and Ripplewind like this.
jaydee is offline  
post #4 of 14 Old 08-16-2013, 01:04 PM
Join Date: Jul 2008
Location: Higgins, TX. YeeHaw!!
Posts: 22,258
• Horses: 24
It's true that a horse's eyes can tell you what they are feeling....but no better than watching and understanding the body language.

If I had to guess, I'd say that she just heard that somewhere and latched onto it as the "go-to" thing for all horses. I mean, their eyes are expressive and relatively easy to read (especially if you are antropomorphising them, which she probably does if she's a big time PP fan), but learning to read and understand a horse's body language can be a lot harder.
Wallaby and 6gun Kid like this.

Always remember that feeling of looking at a big, open country over the ears of a good horse, seeing a new trail unwind ahead of you, and that ever-spectacular view from the top of the ridge!!! Follow my training blog: http://robertsontraining.blogspot.com/
smrobs is offline  
post #5 of 14 Old 08-16-2013, 01:15 PM
Green Broke
Join Date: Apr 2008
Location: NC
Posts: 4,761
• Horses: 6
I don't remember EVER hearing "watch the eyes" from PP in any of his stuff that I've watched (which was quite a lot at one time). I don't think thats a parelli thing so much as it is a personal thing for your boss. PP emphasizes body language, at least in everything I've seen.
Wallaby and Farmchic like this.

"Keep a leg on each side and your mind in the middle"
apachiedragon is offline  
post #6 of 14 Old 08-16-2013, 01:15 PM
Super Moderator
Join Date: Oct 2009
Location: Seattle, WA
Posts: 40,765
• Horses: 2
It is true that if you can get him to look in the direction you want hi thought to be , it will help. But it's only part of the whole, and if you spend your time and focus trying to make your judegements on what to do next based on being able to see the eyes, you will be late more often than not, and as timing is everything, it's more important to be open to the whole picture.

have you ever read Sally Swift's book "Centered Riding"? She talks about using "soft eyes" in riding; where you do not really have a narrow focus on what is in front of you but rather allow your periferal vision to be a part of your conscious brain, too.

I think your approach to viewing the whole body language is more accurate.

However, I will say that sometimes a horse will move the direction you are pulling him, either with a rein or a leadline, but his thought will be somewhere else and this will be evident because as his eye is rolled away from you, you will be able to see the white of the eye. when you get a horse to move with out his thought really being in the movement, YOU are moving him, not getting him to comply and move HIMSELF. If he does it himself, with his thought in the movement, he will remember that much better and it will be easier to get that movement from him the next time you ask.
Wallaby and RagingRainicorn like this.

Last edited by tinyliny; 08-16-2013 at 01:18 PM.
tinyliny is offline  
post #7 of 14 Old 08-16-2013, 01:25 PM
Green Broke
Join Date: Jul 2008
Location: South of No-where
Posts: 2,693
• Horses: 4
Staring them in the eye like that - especially on a new younger horse that doesn't know you well yet - is a great way to make them nervous!
Wallaby likes this.

All I pay my psychiatrist is cost of feed and hay, and he'll listen to me any day!

Cat is offline  
post #8 of 14 Old 08-16-2013, 01:41 PM
Join Date: Jan 2011
Location: Ontario
Posts: 17,193
• Horses: 0
The person has it backwards. You want the horse to watch you with both eyes. If it turns so only one eye is watching, then it's thinking of leaving or is ignoring you. A way to get both eyes back on you is to look away in the opposite direction. When you look again at the horse it will be watching you with both eyes which of course means it's paying attention to you. Since we are predators, prey animals aren't comfortable with predatory eyes looking directly at their eyes. A horse can tell if you are looking at it's nostrils or it's eyes. Your boss will think you are looking at the eyes but the horse will know your not.
Saddlebag is offline  
post #9 of 14 Old 08-16-2013, 01:45 PM
Join Date: Jan 2013
Posts: 2,088
• Horses: 0
I'm not into NH so I can't say why but my boss taught me, "Watch their stifles". She said their eyes can be a good indication, but it's not always 100% accurate. I always watch their bodies to see what they're thinking and supplement with the eyes. If a horse kicks before it does you can see it's stifle move and flex, but a horses eye can be worried about the sound five yards away while it's body is not prepped to explode. And vice versa it's body can be prepped for explosion but it's eye as calm as can be. Not to say don't look at the eyes, but just use them as a piece of the whole.
Incitatus32 is offline  
post #10 of 14 Old 08-16-2013, 02:27 PM
Join Date: May 2013
Location: Washington
Posts: 1,117
• Horses: 1
I agree with Saddlebag.. and I practice Parelli pretty regularly (not exclusively though.. definitely not into the whole cult thing ;) But when you are working with the horse at liberty looking at one of their eyes can actually be a signal to drive the head away from your body, just like looking at the hindquarters will move them away from you and turn the horse towards you.

In this case I wouldn't listen to your boss because it sounds like whatever you have going is working well for you. The rest of their body will tell you just as much as their eyes will IMO.
Ninamebo is offline  

Quick Reply

Register Now

In order to be able to post messages on the The Horse Forum forums, you must first register.

Already have a Horse Forum account?
Members are allowed only one account per person at the Horse Forum, so if you've made an account here in the past you'll need to continue using that account. Please do not create a new account or you may lose access to the Horse Forum. If you need help recovering your existing account, please Contact Us. We'll be glad to help!

New to the Horse Forum?
Please choose a username you will be satisfied with using for the duration of your membership at the Horse Forum. We do not change members' usernames upon request because that would make it difficult for everyone to keep track of who is who on the forum. For that reason, please do not incorporate your horse's name into your username so that you are not stuck with a username related to a horse you may no longer have some day, or use any other username you may no longer identify with or care for in the future.

User Name:
Please enter a password for your user account. Note that passwords are case-sensitive.


Confirm Password:
Email Address
Please enter a valid email address for yourself.

Email Address:


Human Verification

In order to verify that you are a human and not a spam bot, please enter the answer into the following box below based on the instructions contained in the graphic.

Old Thread Warning
This thread is more than 90 days old. When a thread is this old, it is often better to start a new thread rather than post to it. However, If you feel you have something of value to add to this particular thread, you can do so by checking the box below before submitting your post.

Thread Tools
Show Printable Version Show Printable Version
Email this Page Email this Page

Similar Threads
Thread Thread Starter Forum Replies Last Post
Merry Christmas from Corporal and "Moon Eyes"!!(pic heavy) Corporal Horse Pictures 6 12-03-2011 09:01 AM
Help with drawing eyes, and noses >___< PintoTess Horse Artwork 3 10-26-2010 05:07 PM
Does anyone have an "albino" sun sensitive horse with pink skin and/or blue eyes? Seattle Horse Health 15 06-01-2010 03:32 PM
This hurts my eyes to watch!! JustDressageIt Horse Videos 8 02-05-2008 08:10 PM

Posting Rules  
You may post new threads
You may post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is On
HTML code is Off
Trackbacks are On
Pingbacks are On
Refbacks are On

For the best viewing experience please update your browser to Google Chrome