Originally Posted by Mike Zimmerman View Post
Human=left brain dominant, predator, binocular vision
Horse=right brain dominant, prey animal, monocular vision
And that brings us right back to what Sally calls "hard eyes" and "soft eyes" which was mentioned a little earlier.
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Well, when I walk into a corral at feeding time, I'm a wolf with hard eyes, thinking about tearing the head off of a horse who wants to grab hay off of my fork. Not only are my eyes hard, but they flash lightning, although the thunder may be coming from a different part...
When I go to catch a horse, I'm Mr Mellow. My eyes drip down my face and I mosey on in and eventually get around to putting a halter on someone.
Riding? Depends. Moseying down the trail is OK, but if I want my horse to do a pattern, or to canter a certain section, then dig under and turn hard and sprint 50' and then turn 90 and walk...then having soft eyes that scan everything doesn't do much. In fact, my horse will feel my concentration and echo it. If I want Trooper to go from a walk to a canter, I psych him up first. Ask him if he is ready, does he think he's tough enough, call him a wimp, settle into the saddle, ask him if he REALLY wants to go, lean forward some...and whisper, "GO!" I'm not in front of him, but I'd bet his eyes aren't real soft & droopy right then.
I think a lot of this presents a false dichotomy, forcing a choice that doesn't exist. Horses aren't predators? Maybe not, but I've seen enough pissed off horses to know I don't want a horse truly pissed off at me! When a horse is galloping after another one, neck stretched and teeth bared, I don't see a lot of soft eyes.
I don't jump horses, but if I did, I wouldn't want a soft eyed horse approaching the jump. I'd want focus, concentration, and a gathering of his power to make the jump. I've watched (but never ridden
) cutting horses, and I wouldn't want a soft-eyed cutting horse either. Horses tend to echo our emotions. We become the herd on their back, and they respond with our feelings. I subscribe to the theory of 10: My horse and I should add up to a 10 in intensity. If my bolting mare is at a 9, I need to be a 1. If I've got a lazy-butt 2 horse, I need to be an 8. For some purposes, we might both drop to 3+3, or need to climb to 8+8, but I need to use my intensity and focus to drive them to where I want them on the scale of intensity.
How linear a thinker you want to be, or want your horse to be, depends on what you are trying to do. How dominant you want to be also varies with the horse and goal. There isn't a predator/prey dichotomy.