Aye, though its taken me 10 years I think we are still trying to understand husky talk. Sometimes its easy and you can most certainly connect the dots between certain types of behaviour and what the animal is trying to say or want or feel. However there are also other bits where you can't so easily connect the dots; where you sometimes need experience or input from a source that has looked at way more information and example of behaviour to put it all together.
And of course each animal is individual and how they are raised and what they are will affect a lot of their talk. A horse in the wild won't speak quite the same language as a horse kept stalled its whole life ; but there will always be common elements that link the two as they are still horses at the end of the day.
For me this is about trying to "cheat" on years of observation by getting some second hand information. Giving a structured framework to build upon when dealing with horses infrequently or when there isn't a horsey person around to say "Oh that means XYZ"
Interestingly on the subject of horse communication or indeed any animal I think there are two parts.
1) Understanding; actually understanding what the animal is saying.
2) Responding; responding to that or not responding and sometimes knowing how to respond.
For the newbie, like myself, both parts are a key problem. A horse might well send a very clear message; but its then (at least when interacting with) also knowing how to respond to that message.
My hope is that by at least aiming to learn as much as I can of the former the latter will be more easily learnt. Furthermore I think the former is critical to how one chooses the latter as there are often multiple ways to respond to the same message; so a greater understanding of the message opens up a greater capacity to pick the right response.
Which is exactly what you're talking about greentree in how its understanding the horses language and then responding in kind to that message; in your case also then adapting it all to mould your desires around - in your example your desire to ride mixed with the horses language to accept being ridden.
The discussion on some of the big names in the horsemanship world are interesting and its interesting to hear not just about but first person stories regarding some of them and how they react around horses. What's interesting is that I see some making mistakes that I would consider more akin to beginner level mistakes - especially ones where you can see the trainer has gone into a situation or been presented with a situation where there's a demand for a certain end result and everything they do gets "blinkered" to that end goal regardless of what the animal is communicating. The story about the trainer ignoring the horses lameness in favour of focusing on the objective of riding/jumping being a prime example of this.
It woudln't surprise me if that trainer could see the message in the movements of the horse but was focused purely on their target of jumping the horse
well said, Overread.
that brought up some interesting thoughts on my part. . . . . yesterday when bringing up my lease horse from the lower pasture I kept my mind attuned to him, instead of drifting off to what I'm gonna cook for dinner or other petty thoughts. as we approached the water trough, I felt him brighten his focus, I saw his head extend forward in eagarness, heard him lick his lips. so, he was thinking about that water. good.
then, as we got closer and I was walking right next to him, I felt him 'contract' his neck, sour his face, pull back his ears, and look sideways at ME, not the water. he was thinking/feeling dominant about that water, and while it was the tiniest of things. and while he didn't PIN his ears, he didn't threaten me in any way, he had changed his thought from "I am going to drink!" to "Mine!". it was just a habitual thing he does and usually I pay it no mind. this time, I thought, "there's no reason for me to leave him in that mental state, even for a second.",
so, I interrupted his thinking. I just raised my leading hand, gave the tinitest of wiggles and said, "Ah!Ah!" . he immediatly brightened, put his ears forward , looked at me and the entire ugliness of his former thought was as gone as if it had never been there. we then walked to the water trough and he drank peacefully, then finished and looked at me like, "how what?".
it has taken me years to SEE what the horse is thinking, and to decide that sometimes it IS worth it to respond, even to these tiny things.