A riding instructor once told me, “If a horse looks right at you, they are asking you a question.”
I hadn’t ever thought of it like that before, but from that moment forward every time a horse looked right at me, I stopped and paused in myself to see what they wanted. I just started assuming they wanted something from me, and I set out to figure out what it was.
One afternoon, after visiting my horse, I prepared to leave while he was eating his hay like he always did. I said goodbye to him and walked to my car, taking off my boots and putting my barn coat in the trunk. As I got into my car, I looked over at him and was surprised to find him staring right at me. He had left his food, which he never did, and pointed himself in my direction looking straight at me.
Since this was out of the ordinary, I knew he wanted something. I went back over to him and asked out loud what he wanted while I practiced relaxing and breathing. I checked for gut sounds. They were o.k. (No gut sounds means colic). I then put my hands on him and slowly searched for the spot where he would relax and close his eyes. Sure enough I found it on his right hip. Just barely touching with my hands, his closed eyes told the story. That was the spot. (This was also the spot he had fallen on several weeks earlier).
A chunk of time passed, and when he was done with me resting my hands on him, he licked and chewed, threw in a few yawns and went back to eating his hay. He had successfully communicated and got what he needed.
When your horse looks right at you, take a moment to see what they might be asking you. Allowing time to slow down, breath and observe your horses does wonders for communication. They just might surprise you. I’d love to hear what you learn.