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PostPosted: Tue Feb 03, 2009 7:50 am 
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Birgit asked me to repost this biological motion demo in a place where it would be better to find than in a video topic and I thought it could be a nice start for a sticky about the human's movement and body language.

For a demonstration of different ways of moving you can experiment with a biological motion demo

http://www.biomotionlab.ca/Demos/BMLwalker.html

You can play with the parameters and in that way maybe get a good feel about what parameters affect the impression you get in what way. With the dots it is much more easy than with the complexity of watching a real person move, because you can pinpoint the differences between different movements. Which body part moves faster? Higher? With a more curved trajectory? With what accelaration?

Then, trying to see things from the perspective of the horse, you can try to imagine how you would move when your human moved in what way. Actually you can just play the demos and move along behind your computer screen. How does it feel when you are supposed to run while the dots move in a way that is incompatible with that? Probably you will notice that there are mainly two chances of getting over that incompatibility: if you want to move in an energetic and relaxed way, you have to disconnect yourself from the dots and learn to ignore them, or you have to forget about being energetic and adapt your own movements to those of the dots. You will see how it is just so much easier to mimic the movement of the dots - so now you can practise mimicry with your computer. ;)

Enjoy! 8)


Other threads dealing with body language

Feedback on my bodylanguage
Nepomuk in motion (first page)
Outlaw - Critique my body language?
Body language and intent


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PostPosted: Tue Feb 03, 2009 7:50 pm 
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Thats pretty amazing!

That with a series of dots you 'see' the person or type of person clearly.

Wow!

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PostPosted: Wed Feb 04, 2009 12:08 am 

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It is interesting how much more movement there is in a female figure than a male. Is it easier for them to move the entire body while riding so giving a softer feel to the horse??? Would that make the man's signals clearer as his body does not seem to move much at the shoulders at all? Interesting. I shall have to play with this a bit more. :huh:

Fascinating.


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PostPosted: Wed Feb 04, 2009 3:00 am 

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I love that this applies equally to walking/groundwork and to riding, especially the different shape of hips, shoulder width between men and women and also of course the mood, level of relaxation and lightness. Beautiful! :clap: :clap: :clap:
I wish they did this with a horse and a rider from the perspective of looking down on them from above. Should look pretty similar.


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PostPosted: Sun Dec 06, 2009 9:05 am 
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After I got the videos of Imperia, I thought we could revive this thread...

I made a little instructional video about body language. I tried to summarize the main points of what I am doing, but if something does not become clear, just ask. It would also be great to know what you are doing differently and how it works for you and your horse, and suggestions for improvement are very welcome, too! :smile:

And here is another instructional video showing the hip cues during more stationary exercises like asking the horse to move away from me, towards me or parallel to me. My body language is a bit distorted especially in the first part due to Pia's size, which turns the hip cues into knee cues. ;) When working with a bigger horse, you can simply adjust them accordingly.


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PostPosted: Mon Dec 07, 2009 7:29 am 

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Romy, this is fascinating. I use quite a few of the same moves but, I think, mostly intuitively, definitely never thought about them much (beyond the basic Parelli-type signals) I assumed this was the same for everyone. But your explanations in the video suggest that you are using all your moves as conscious aides/signals, esp. your hip movements? Or were you analyzing what you did after the fact? Either way, I think we should all videotape ourselves doing groundwork more. I suspect the way we move around our horses depends in part on the temperament and energy level of the horse (as well as the training level). My quarter horse definitely has lazy days when I need to make very big movements to get her moving at all. :funny: :funny:


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PostPosted: Mon Dec 07, 2009 4:40 pm 
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Thank you, Birgit! :smile:

Birgit wrote:
But your explanations in the video suggest that you are using all your moves as conscious aides/signals, esp. your hip movements? Or were you analyzing what you did after the fact?


Generally I have very little awareness of what I am doing, so indeed I try to watch and analyze it afterwards. But then when I knew what I was doing, I tried to experiment with it and improve it. So now I do what just comes naturally but sometimes I do think of it consciously while I am doing it.

Quote:
I suspect the way we move around our horses depends in part on the temperament and energy level of the horse (as well as the training level).


Absolutely. I would most likely not do crazy jumps next to a very nervous horse and risk to frighten him much more. Or when I am training with wild excited Summy, my body language cues just have to be smaller, because otherwise he would explode.

I am not sure about the lazy horse and getting him to move, though. I try to influence the horse's responses more by changing the consequences of the behaviour: I don´t try to wake the lazy horse up by adding more energy to make him do something, but rather continue using small cues but the horse gets rewarded BIG TIME for a reaction. So I am changing what effects a behaviour has for the horse and what might make him want to repeat or improve it.

But of course I also make differences between horses, probably much more than I am consciously aware of.

Your idea about everyone posting groundwork videos sounds great, I would love to see a video of you and Blue.


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PostPosted: Tue Dec 08, 2009 6:01 am 

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Quote:
Generally I have very little awareness of what I am doing, so indeed I try to watch and analyze it afterwards. But then when I knew what I was doing, I tried to experiment with it and improve it. So now I do what just comes naturally but sometimes I do think of it consciously while I am doing it.

Wow, I took some time to observe myself to find out what cues I give Blue to move and I can definitely say that I also have very little awareness of what all I'm doing, even much less than I thought. :funny: It is definitely a combination of body language, verbal/sound cues, food as a lure and modeling. I tried to use body language only, but of course Blue knew that I had cookies in my pocket. I always lean slightly forward when I walk next to her to increase speed and lean slightly back to decrease speed. But I often use a cluck in addition. I definitely use a lot of big movements, for instance running away quickly to get her to move faster. For sideways movements I use mostly my hands moving towards her, but sometimes one hand pushing the hind end away, while waving her shoulders towards me. I'll take a video when someone can help me and the weather isn't quite so freezing cold (we had 5 degrees F tonight when I fed). Sometimes I'm thinking about having a verbal and a body movement cue for everything I'm doing because than it would be so easy to transfer that to riding. I guess I'd have to spend much more time than I have been to get consistent results. Right now I have so much fun just hanging out with Blue without any structure. 8)


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PostPosted: Tue Jan 31, 2012 8:37 pm 

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Very interesting video!
Now I understand why naamloos won't trot when I'm trying to ask it from her.
Thank you. :applause:


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PostPosted: Mon Aug 20, 2012 10:57 am 
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On my trip to Belgium I read a very interesting article reviewing the literature on directing attention to your movements versus their effects. It said that in different kinds of tasks like golf, volleyball, skiing or balancing on a board it had been found that instruction and feedback that make you attend to your own movement decreased performance. In contrast, attending to the effects those movements have in the environment made it much better. This was the case both in terms of current performance and also in terms of the more longterm learning progress. Thus, being very focused on yourself did not just hamper performance but also made it harder to learn how to do it right.

Sometimes these effects arose even when there were only very subtle differences in the experimental setup, for example when people had to balance on a board and were instructed to attend to their feet versus to the board directly under their feet, or to visual markers that were placed right in front of their feet. They attributed these differences to the fact that when not attending to the movements themselves but their effects, you can still make sure the goal is being reached, while the online control is left to the (mostly unconscious) low-level systems that work much more directly on the incoming information from the environment.

Reading this reminded me of horses a lot. Indeed the times when I feel that my groundwork works best are the times when I don't think that much about the moves I make but just make them and adjust on a moment-by-moment basis, depending on how the horse is contracting his muscles or moving. I also feel that I am doing it worse after having experienced how several horses reacted to a certain movement of mine and then in consequence I hardly focus on the horse anymore but just do the hip thing in a rather ballistic way, as if it was a single move and not several tiny ones. Kind of "I know how it's done" thing, which hardly ever seems to be beneficial for me. By the way, it's funny that yesterday at the AND meeting I made the same "complaint" ;) about Impie, telling Bianca that when Impie still was very unexperienced in groundwork, she reacted to me way more instantly and precisely, whereas now she often tries to do the move or sequence of movements that she thinks I am asking of her - which is precisely what I am guilty of myself, so I guess we will do something to change that next time. :)


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PostPosted: Mon Aug 20, 2012 1:10 pm 
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That's really interesting. I wonder if that is the reason Zoe and I find it so hard to play with each others horses. Because we have a collection of cues that our own horses understand (and expect), when we try each others horses we don't get very far. When I try to imitate Zoe or do what she does it doesn't really work and while I am concentrating on what I am doing - I find it much harder to react to what BJ is doing. Then on days when he is more excited we communicate much better. Same with Zoe and pops. I am still unable to explain to her how to get her enthusiastic, I think I must just be reacting a certain way to what Pops is doing and it is without even thinking about it. I was wondering this afternoon actually, if instead of trying to get BJ to do what Zoe gets him to do, to try and just do something different with him instead.


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PostPosted: Mon Aug 20, 2012 7:26 pm 
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Very interesting. I think everybody is familiar with the phenomenon that when you focus on how you move your feet you easily stumble, yet walking otherwise comes naturally. Centered riding, with it's mental images, is using the very fact that effect based instructions work far better than micro-managing your posture for example. It is especially apparent when doing balance related exercises.
I think it's got to do with the way balanced movements are maintained by a shortcut between proprio-receptors and cerebellum. Using the cortex (or higher brain functions) to maintain/adjust the movement just interferes with already established pathways. At least that's how I imagine how it works ;)

I also think that the way horses react to our body language is a different topic though. It has more to do with learning theory, in my opinion.
When I work with an untrained horse and reward him for reactions to my body language, he will do so in a very intuitive way. He will probably also react to every little thing he believes to be a cue.
Later, when cues reappear and are reinforced in a predictable pattern and others do not, he will in a way habituate to some degree of body language noise and filter out the most salient cues. The motivation to identify new cues will decrease in proportion to the amount of acquired vocabulary and to the ratio of new versus established cues. So in a sense, the training and usage of cues decreases the ability to learn new ones.

When a horse has been trained a set of body language cues, he will of course try to identify those cues in any other human interacting with him. If the dialect of that human is too far off the original, there are bound to be translation errors :).
Imitating the body language of another is very hard and thus will probably only further confuse the horse. All the more, because the same phenomenon kicks in as in the balance example. Trying to consciously modify something as unconscious as body language is very prone to error.

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PostPosted: Tue Aug 21, 2012 10:10 am 
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Houyhnhnm wrote:
I also think that the way horses react to our body language is a different topic though. It has more to do with learning theory, in my opinion.


Although I do not think it needs to be a different topic, I guess I was a bit confusing when bringing up Impie. Actually the point of my post was not meant to be "What makes a horse react to bodylanguage?" but "When are my signals good and when aren't they?" At least for me my cues do work the more effectively and bring about more subtle results the more they take the horse's reaction into account - that is, when they themselves get modified according to the effects they create - instead of being just predetermined cues.

I'll try to make it a bit clearer with an example: Last Saturday I asked Unico to turn his hindquarters away from me by directing my hip there (while standing next to his belly, facing him). If I saw him moving sideways with his whole body and thus the frontquarters moved as well, I counteracted this by adjusting my posture in terms of taking the hip that was closer to his head backwards away from him. Consequently, I created a slight tendency to draw his frontquarters towards me which made it impossible for them to move away from me at the same time.

However, this can only work if I do attend to the effects of my movements (i.e., the horse's way of moving) in real-time, instead of just giving the "right" cue (just attending to my own movements). Perhaps that's also the reason why we differ in our views on this, because I try NOT to train my horses to react to a certain set of cues. It's more like if the horse perceives something to be a cue, then it becomes a cue or part of a cue for me - namely for the response the horse just gave. That's basically what I tried to explain in the R+ for humans video and text. So I do not have a certain, fixed sideways cue for example but a general idea of what could make the horse go sideways, which is defined and constantly redefined as our interaction changes, depending on what effects it produces. If in response to my current sideways cue the horse moves forward more than I want, I reward just as much but adjust my position the next time I ask. So I guess there is not very much need for the horse to filter out things. :smile:

It's only that I tend to forget to work in this way when I get lazy, and then I just perform the move that worked for the last few horses or what worked the last few times with the same horse. And then it is that my horses become less sensitive. Otherwise I have not seen much of a change in their sensitivity to body language as they grew older.


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PostPosted: Tue Aug 21, 2012 11:01 am 
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Romy wrote:
Perhaps that's also the reason why we differ in our views on this, because I try NOT to train my horses to react to a certain set of cues. It's more like if the horse perceives something to be a cue, then it becomes a cue or part of a cue for me - namely for the response the horse just gave. That's basically what I tried to explain in the "R+ for humans" video and text.
The way I see it, it's basically the same thing, only the roles are reversed. The principles of operant conditioning apply all the time - on both sides. Also cues are always given and received.
When you first interact with an unfamiliar horse I assume you use the cues which you are most familiar with. You wait for an answer and then modify your cue according to the answer you got. Correct me if I'm wrong.
Usually it's the horse who will have to modify according to the reinforcing taking place, but the result is basically the same I think. It's a training process where behaviour is modified to reflect the individual aspects of the communication process between a specific horse and a specific human. Every time one participant of this process changes, the re-training will start again. Re-training might take longer, if the learned cues differ greatly from the new cues.

I guess in the end it's the one who has to modify the own behaviour, who may run into problems, because a trained and unconsciously performed behaviour has to be consciously altered. That leads us back to the study you were referring to in the beginning of our discussion ;)

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PostPosted: Tue Aug 21, 2012 12:34 pm 
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Houyhnhnm wrote:
I guess in the end it's the one who has to modify the own behaviour, who may run into problems, because a trained and unconsciously performed behaviour has to be consciously altered. That leads us back to the study you were referring to in the beginning of our discussion ;)


I guess that's what I don't really believe, that adaptation to the situation at hand is highly likely to be problematic or conscious (at least when we are speaking about simple movement). For me it is not hard to change my moves according to what I see or expect the horse to do, and in the same way I guess it is not hard for him to change his moves according to mine. But I need to add that I am only speaking about situations where the behaviours, for example the cues or the actions of the horse, are congruent (i.e. share a number of features) with the effects they are supposed to create. It's a whole different story if you have to perform arbitrary reactions to arbitrary cues, then a change of a learned association is indeed rather difficult.

But I guess I should explain a bit why I don't see it as problematic and necessarily conscious. First, individuals tend to get their movements - or actually the perceivable effects of their movements - into synchrony, with no conscious effort to make that happen. Usually it costs way more effort to prevent that. So if the change I need to make is one that fits with the horse's behaviour, it should be ever so easy. Of course the studies were not done with horses but rather simple things like the frequencies and phase of rocking chairs, pendulums or walking in synchrony. But I don't see why it should be fundamentally different with horses.

Second, actions are largely controlled by their sensory effects (ideomotor principle): Thinking of that effect automatically activates the representation of the corresponding action. Now if a stimulus I see (e.g. the not quite expected movement of the horse in our example) is very similar to the effect of some movement in my movement repertoire in terms of the features they share (e.g. leftward, fast), it is very easy for me to perform the action that fits, due to the spread of activation to the corresponding motor codes.

Ultimately, I guess you are right in that a change of learned associations is hard. I only think that if you see associations not as something that is restricted to the horse-human interaction but to the whole of an individual's experiences with his environment, the few horse-human specific associations will hardly outweigh the number of associations that the individual has made throughout his life. Or to say it very simply: if in the past I had worked with horses who make a hop when I step to the left, this left-hop link would hardly outweigh all the left-left associations I have made during my learning history with all kinds of objects. So for me adapting to the horse is easy when I can adapt in a way that mimics the laws of physics I have experienced in my life.


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PostPosted: Tue Aug 21, 2012 1:05 pm 
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I think our positions are not so far apart. I said that one "may" run into problems and only if the behaviour to be modified is a very well trained and/or unconscious one. A rather simple and conscious movement like changing the hip rotation in accordance to the horse's sideways movement, surely won't pose much of a problem.
The better trained and the more complex a behaviour/movement is, the harder it is to change or untrain it.

Romy wrote:
First, individuals tend to get their movements - or actually the perceivable effects of their movements - into synchrony, with no conscious effort to make that happen. [...]

Second, actions are largely controlled by their sensory effects (ideomotor principle): Thinking of that effect automatically activates the representation of the corresponding action. Now if a stimulus I see (e.g. the not quite expected movement of the horse in our example) is very similar to the effect of some movement in my movement repertoire in terms of the features they share (e.g. leftward, fast), it is very easy for me to perform the action that fits, due to the spread of activation to the corresponding motor codes.
I totally agree with you on that, only that I think such things do not come easily or automatically for every one of us and in every situation. To my experience such things depend on what I call a certain kind of "flow" that puts me into the proper disposition to mimic movements intuitively or move my body to a rhythm or in synchrony.

This state of "flow" though, does not come easily to me. It can be hindered or even totally blocked by a lot of different antecedents or situational variables: fear/uneasiness or any kind of discomfort, too much mental focus on a specific part of the task and finally probably a inherited or learned predisposition.
It is not very easy for me to get into synchrony with someone when I want it, but it "happens" a lot of times ;). I believe that the ability to move in rhythm to music for example can be trained and untrained - or better maybe: the ability the get myself into a state of flow.

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PostPosted: Tue Aug 21, 2012 1:15 pm 
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Yep, I totally agree that there are many factors that can complicate things or prevent individuals from becoming a real communicative unit. Haha, so much fun discussing with you, but I always worry about the poor people who have to read our conversations. :funny:


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PostPosted: Thu Feb 07, 2013 4:41 pm 
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Romy wrote:
Last week I revisited some of our very old threads about goals in an AND-like training, and while doing that I realized that I still so much agree with Miriam when she says that for her the main goal is not that the horses are just happy, but that she wants them to become stronger. Entrepreneur horses is still my number one on the goal list
Have been thinking on this as well lately... I like Mucki to be strong and proud. And entrepreneurial of course! :yes:

What I've found though, is that all of those attributes correlate a lot with my own manifestation of those traits in myself. So if I feel authentically strong and entrepreneur-ish, Mucki is like that as well. And easily so! :ieks: Without having to learn it first.
I often thought that I have to teach Mucki how to overcome fear by using clicker training to move step by step closer to a scary object, until he can touch it. Of course that's a good method and it worked in a lot of situations. But even much better it worked when I not only taught him how to do that, but also SHOWED him how it can be done. It sounds like a trifle, but it makes all the difference to us, if I can do it right.

Again I think horses learn the most from watching and imitating... they seem to have a strong ability to copy a behaviour (as well as mental state) and make it to their own. It seems to me like a special kind of learning ability. Like a visceral hard copy of a behaviour, if you know what I mean?

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 Post subject: Re: Titum
PostPosted: Fri Feb 08, 2013 7:54 am 
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Yes, I think I know what you mean, and I completely agree.

In terms of its practical consequences, this always makes me think of Annette's old signature, which was something like "Be the change you wish to see in the world", which of course applies to all kinds of situations, not just horses. But at the same time, I am realizing that this makes it very hard for me to teach interacting with horses to others (what you always said, but I guess I never really understood it before, or only rationally). It is just not very helpful and understandable if all I have to tell people is to simply be what they want their horse to be. But that's what it all boils down to, I think. Want an attentive horse? Be attentive yourself. Want a playful horse? Be playful yourself. Want a confident horse? Be confident yourself. And the list goes on. All the specific moves required are just peanuts, and usually directly derive from that inner state automatically, anyway.

The problem I see with this is just that it is neither my task nor my right to be a personality coach and interfere with people's personal styles. But on the other hand, I am afraid that if the change does not come from within, all attempts of teaching communication are futile. Or perhaps not, I guess you can learn a few basic things just by applying outward behaviour patterns such as certain moves of your body. But as soon as the going gets tough, for example when being faced with real-life challenges instead of just training exercises in the arena, you really have to be it.

The hope I see, however, is that body and mental state mutually influence each other, so perhaps if you are teaching the right behaviour to someone, the rest will follow to some degree. :f:


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 Post subject: Re: Titum
PostPosted: Fri Feb 08, 2013 1:49 pm 
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Romy wrote:
The hope I see, however, is that body and mental state mutually influence each other, so perhaps if you are teaching the right behaviour to someone, the rest will follow to some degree.
I'm absolutely positive that that will happen. That's how we learn and change behaviour after all, isn't it? We observe, we perform the behaviour in our minds first to see how it plays out and finally we try to imitate what we have seen.

I believe that most of the things that are relevant for effectively communicating with horses are within the potential of every human. Posture, body language, expressive energy and so on. I've seen this work with thin people, fat people, small people, tall people, handicapped people. It's surely not really limited by physical parameters. But certainly by psychosomatic ties that are often hidden to us and not easy to sever.
After the incident where Mucki kicked me in December, I could see all that at work within my own body. Fear made my body language totally ineffective - it made me literally small as a mouse. But that fear was not just a product of two hooves on my chest, there was so much more to it. Things that rooted deep back in my childhood as I became aware after some time.
Basically my whole way of interacting, moving, expressing myself is a complicated product of the sum of all my experiences - interactions that went well and those that went wrong. The question remains, how can those things be altered?

For one part I believe that there is no such thing as the "right" body language or the "right" set of movements to interact with a horse. It's a communication process like any other - one between two humans for example. Misunderstandings happen all the time and can be minimised with exercise. An old couple communicates most effectively and often non-verbal. Because they had the time to train themselves ;).
So, I think things get better and more effective just with time...

Beyond that, I think we need dedicated exercises to develop certain traits like being attentive, being playful, or - the worst of all - being confident ;).
I, for example, have a hard time remembering minor details about people I meet for the first time. Like what shoes they wore, or even the color of their hair :ieks:. I usually do remember a strong image about their personality, but my overall tendency is one of evasion, so that I don't look properly.
That's something deeply engraved in me, so that it's hard to overcome in the situation, but I do train this in a playful way: On my way to work I walk along Vienna's busiest shopping street where I try to get at least a quick glance at every passing person and I have to memorise at least one outstanding attribute of each one.

What I want to say with this long-winding example, is that in order to change such deeply rooted personality traits, it's important to have a rather simple, low level exercise and a safe place where it can be exercised. Like a mother provides safety for every toddler step out of the known into the big world outside.
A horse trainer, a fenced arena, or just some simple guidelines can provide that safety to explore new things. This may be a point where AND falls short for some people? After all we don't provide a lot of structured guiding - more the philosophy of try to go your own way.
It's definitely a good way, I believe - one which takes all the responsibility for one's actions. Just sometimes it's hard to walk steady on new ground with so much responsibility on the shoulders...

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 Post subject: Re: Titum
PostPosted: Sat Feb 09, 2013 8:58 am 
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Thank you for this wonderful post, Volker! :)

Houyhnhnm wrote:
For one part I believe that there is no such thing as the "right" body language or the "right" set of movements to interact with a horse. It's a communication process like any other - one between two humans for example. Misunderstandings happen all the time and can be minimised with exercise. An old couple communicates most effectively and often non-verbal. Because they had the time to train themselves ;).
So, I think things get better and more effective just with time...


Absolutely! And many people can communicate very efficiently with their horses without paying attention to body language at all. I think that just like people, horses can learn to reinterpret what the human is doing with his body, or simply ignore it if there isn't much useful or consistent information in it, and find other signals that tell them what to do in a conversation. It's just that a clear body language makes it so much easier, and also allows me to deal with new situations or new horses more easily. Actually for me it seems easiest to work with a young horse who has not had much experience with humans, because without all the reinterpretation and adaptation having taken place yet, they are amazingly uniform in the way they react to the body language that my horses have taught me. This is why I believe that there are body language universals, although of course this does not mean that they cannot be changed during the course of a relationship. :smile:

Houyhnhnm wrote:
I, for example, have a hard time remembering minor details about people I meet for the first time. Like what shoes they wore, or even the color of their hair :ieks:. I usually do remember a strong image about their personality, but my overall tendency is one of evasion, so that I don't look properly.


You are not alone with this, or actually that happens to almost everyone. Over the last two decades there has been a huge interest in phenomena like inattentional blindness and change blindness. People usually don't notice significant changes in their environment, and the underlying mechanisms still aren't totally clear. Here are two video examples, Colour Changing Card Trick and Door Study. You can check out Daniel Simons for more information, or I also have some overview articles in the office, which I can email if someone is interested.

Houyhnhnm wrote:
What I want to say with this long-winding example, is that in order to change such deeply rooted personality traits, it's important to have a rather simple, low level exercise and a safe place where it can be exercised.


I love your memorization game, and I also think that small exercises are a great way of changing the way we perceive and act, and in a very fun way at that. Maybe we can collect such games here in this thread. For me they usually have to do with a reinterpretation of the situation, or with mental images.

One example for a reinterpretation that alters your body language I have learned from Azhar. When walking along our big busy road with Titum and there was a tram or lorry approaching, I always saw him tense up and cringe even before Titum showed the first signs of fear, and this did not improve when I asked him to stand straight and be confident. So we invented a game of being positively excited about trams and acting as if they were the best thing in the world. We said things like "Wow, Titum, look! There is a tram! Isn't it beautiful, and so big!" Needless to say that this changed Azhar's body language completely, so that when there was a scary object, he got bigger instead of smaller. Titum's reaction changed accordingly, and now he even seems to look out for these objects, because they get the party started. :funny:

In terms of the mental images, the children and I often imagine to be someone else, with that person being picked according to the traits and attributes we want to display in a given situation. One of my favourites for confidence is imagining that I was a princess, and that the whole city was mine. Not that I had much of a problem with confidence anyway, but still this changes my way of walking and feeling about my actions into something more regal. It just makes me behave in a quiet and confident way, knowing that everything will turn out the way I want it to be anyway.

I'll try to think of more games that we play, and post them if I come up with something that might be interesting. :f:

Oh, and something that we have had in another thread already but that belongs here as well is the work by Amy Cuddy and colleagues, who show that assuming power postures can change the biochemical processes in your body and actually make you more confident. Here is a talk about that, Your body language shapes who you are, and the corresponding article.


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PostPosted: Sat Feb 09, 2013 10:06 am 
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Romy wrote:
This is why I believe that there are body language universals, although of course this does not mean that they cannot be changed during the course of a relationship.
Yes, I think so too. There must be a universal vocabulary to some degree - even across species. We really should try to collect these universals. (Maybe in a body language e-book, Romy? ;))

I love the games you use with your children. I was also about to post the talk of Amy Cuddy - role playing is such an easy but powerful way of changing one's body language. With our Welsh Cob we assumed the role of the "Welsh General" as he would inspect his army - that was fun :funny:.
I hope we do get a nice collection of games or exercises we can use to alter the body language. I guess mental images are the most powerful and actually simplest of them all.

What really helps me a lot is to "activate" my body before doing something with my horse. That can be a yoga-like exercise, where I focus on movements and body parts.
For example, walking in extreme slow motion, as slowly as possible. In order to do that, one have to be very careful in shifting the weight and not losing balance. Also the feet have to touch down very firmly and consciously. This exercises really roots oneself to the ground and gives a feeling of balance and a strong posture.

But the simplest of all exercises I do to activate my body is just moving. Running, jumping, mucking the paddock, shovelling snow, ... It may sound trivial, but the simple act of warming up works wonders. Too often I come directly from hours at the computer, sit immobile again in my car, then grab my horse and expect myself to be in any shape to do "body work" with my horse! :roll: Everyone talks about warming up your horse, but we need warming up ourselves even before that...

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PostPosted: Mon Feb 11, 2013 12:59 pm 
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Houyhnhnm wrote:
There must be a universal vocabulary to some degree - even across species. We really should try to collect these universals. (Maybe in a body language e-book, Romy? ;))


When I read this, my first thought was "Oh great, let's do that!" However, the more I was thinking about it, the more I was wondering what such a collection might look like. This is because what I mean when speaking of body language universals is not a collection of moves but something much more basic. Like the laws of phyics for example, or the general tendency for automatic imitation, or the way someone's expression is affected by his emotion.

So yes, I could tell people that if you move one of your body parts (e.g. your hip) towards a body part of the horse (e.g. his chest), this will result in a tendency of the horse to move that body part away. Or that an increase in your tension will make the horse tense up as well, and tell him that something is about to happen (e.g. that a signal will come from you soon). Or that the general predictability and uniformity of your moves will influence whether the horse moves in a calm and flowing way (at the risk of perhaps becoming a bit dull if he isn't a naturally excited person anyway) or whether he will be more ready to react and also shorten his frame more easily. But that is so trivial and actually goes without saying. I believe that everyone knows these things, and even if he does not (simply because he has not thought about it yet), it would probably just take him one second to find these universals all by himself.

I think the tricky part is not knowing these things, but applying them. Preferably in a way that fits with your goals in a given situation, and even better if that happens automatically, so that you don't look like playing a program but like someone who is performing a natural movement. For that purpose, I think a collection of mental images might be more helpful, because they help you find the right moves automatically, and thus relieve you from the burden of having to think about all these things while working with your horse.


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PostPosted: Sun Jun 23, 2013 7:14 pm 
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I think that in a lot of the conversation about body language, the characteristics inherent to the way a person moves, particularly the shape of the moves, are overemphasized relative to the genuinely joint aspects. That is, I think you cannot put enough emphasis on the way the moves of the horse and human are coupled. Also in their shape (e.g. the human shifts his hip and the horse responds with a congruent move of his hindquarters, or vice versa), but mostly in their timing.

To me there is nothing as important as adjusting your own moves to those of the horse precisely when asking for something and when reacting to the horse's moves. This mainly consists of being flexible and reacting to the horse with moves that closely match what he just did, and doing so at the very moment when he does it. However, I think this does not have to be done only for the big actions but feedback should be given in that way for any action he produces. Actually I think that attending to this mimicry or binding (or perhaps not attending but doing it automatically, but doing it ;)) is the main key to getting a subtle communication. If I will ever get my body language book finished, this will be a big chapter in it, because I think this is so important. At the same time, it's one of the hardest things to do for many humans.

Today I was lucky to get a very spontaneous and unpractised example for this on video: Nelly being precise in coupling her actions to those of Pan. She may not use a lot of elaborated body language in terms of using her hips or other body parts for cueing, but her actions are matched with Pan's moves in such a nice way. Enjoy! :)


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PostPosted: Tue Jul 16, 2013 9:48 am 
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What a brilliant thread Romy! I also can truly see the important in what you say about that 'binding' of motion between you and the horse. I hadn't really analyzed it in such detail as you've written up here, but what you describe definitely happens naturally between Skylark and I. Although Spirit and I are on a clear path to getting there, I think it's a little like once you've made friends with somebody, you begin to 'merge' even more so after some time...

I love that biological motion demo! I would like to show it to anyone who is about to spend time with Spirit and Skylark :twisted:. It is great how it just really makes you aware of how clear these subtle differences are.


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PostPosted: Wed Sep 18, 2013 10:45 am 
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Oh my god, here is so much to read.

So, before getting into exchange, I have to comment this:

Quote:
http://www.biomotionlab.ca/Demos/BMLwalker.html


I love this, never saw anything like it, brillant, Romy.
And what a wonderful, genius basis for a thread like this.

Thanks :f:


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PostPosted: Wed Feb 19, 2014 3:46 pm 
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Brilliant videos, Romy. :f:
I really like them and I love this kind of communication. So calm, smooth and soft. Like dancing together. :sun:


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PostPosted: Sat Mar 07, 2015 8:41 am 
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This post will introduce an option to block unwanted movement with your body language, so that you only get the very move you are after. I call it the two-step, simply because it consists of two subsequent component actions.

There are moments when I want a horse to perform a particular movement, but I simply cannot communicate this. For example, I might try to ask Summy to turn his hindquarters towards me while I am standing next to his neck, facing his hindquarters (I have added a figure for illustration, in which part A is the starting point). A plausible way to do this is to turn my outer leg and hip outwards/backwards (B) so that my outer hip is supposed to draw his hindquarters towards me. However, what often happens in these situations is that the whole body of the horse moves sideways (C).

When I was trying to change that yesterday, I remembered a training with Lena and Pan. We had realized that it's not only important what your outer body part does but that your inner body part, the one that is closer to the horse, acts as an anchor. Thus, I clearly put my weight on my inner leg while moving the outer leg, but to no avail. Summy was still moving sideways, and also bringing his shoulder towards me so that he was almost pushing into me.

Then I remembered something that I had found to be important earlier (thanks to Pia, you can see it in the R+ for humans video): That my movement has to happen in two steps. I often see that when using my body language, it's not posture that matters but movement. That is, only the fact that my weight is on my inside leg does not help much - what needs to be emphasized is the process of putting the weight there first. I can do this by making a very obvious step with the inner leg and then put my weight on it, i.e. I lean a bit to the inside. This binds the horse to that change and keeps his frontquaters fixed. Once this is accomplished, I can move my outer hip to draw the hindquarters (D).

Of course this is not restricted to the particular exercise of drawing hindquarters but can also be used for other movements in which you need a particular body part of the horse to stay fixed, or where you need different body parts to do different things.

Image


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PostPosted: Sat Mar 07, 2015 9:31 am 
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That's great, thank you!
Yesterday I also made some experience while trying to invite Nathan to move sidewards to me, but this didn't work out, because the exactly opposite of what you described happened. I was in front of him, facing his frontquarters and crossing my own legs and pushing my hips to the side, with the idea of his body sticking to mine, so that he would follow me with his whole body and crossing legs. But in fact, his hindquarters were fixed to the ground, while his frontquarters described a nice circle :green:
So the solution for that may be to stand more besides the horse and move my hip and leg without putting weight on the inner leg, right?


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PostPosted: Sat Mar 07, 2015 7:56 pm 
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Jana, that's exactly what almost every horse does in the beginning. For me to be able to draw the hindquarters to me during the sideways, it works best to first get some movement into the hindquarters. For example, I can do this by walking forwards and then gradually shaping that into a sideways movement. It's just so much easier to change an existing movement instead of starting one from scratch. But it can take a while, and whereas with some horses it works within some minutes, with others I need some hours. With Summy it was quite difficult at first and I tried out several things, so maybe this post can help you.


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PostPosted: Mon Mar 09, 2015 3:47 pm 
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Romy wrote:
I often see that when using my body language, it's not posture that matters but movement.
I noticed that too. Although I would rather say: posture does matter, but only in movement ;).
I noticed (drawing hindquarters is often such a revealing exercise! :yes:), that if I didn't get a good response from my cue at first, I sometimes try to get the response by doing the same movement a bit further and longer. It usually doesn't work.
But if I stop the old movement cue and start a new one, this time with more verve and expression in the beginning of the movement, then the results are usually much better.

I also found that I often replicate my body cues in a too simplified form. For example I would explain the drawing of the hindquarters just like Romy did. Maybe I would add a shoulder movement as well.
But when I really imagine myself doing this task with Mucki, I realise that there is so much more to the cue than just the positioning of hips and shoulders.
There's a certain bend to my knees right from the beginning that gives the movement power and lightness before it even started. There's a luring quality to the draw with my hip and leg and finally a smooth transition to what Romy called the second step of the movement: the pushing or blocking the horse's shoulder with my inner hipbone. With that blocking movement comes a lifting of my whole body as well and while I had my hip tilted backwards before and the upper body more bent over, now my breast opens upwards, my hip tilts forwards and my whole body becomes upright.

Maybe the movement I described is more what I use for travers than just drawing the hindquarters, but it shows how many many-faceted and complex a body language cue is in reality. And sometimes, I'm not even aware of all those facets and subtleties. But I have the feeling like the horses pick up exactly those subtleties and use them to differentiate a "cue for travers" from "just taking my hip backwards"...

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PostPosted: Thu Mar 12, 2015 11:59 am 
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Volker wrote:
Maybe the movement I described is more what I use for travers than just drawing the hindquarters, but it shows how many many-faceted and complex a body language cue is in reality. And sometimes, I'm not even aware of all those facets and subtleties. But I have the feeling like the horses pick up exactly those subtleties and use them to differentiate a "cue for travers" from "just taking my hip backwards"...


Same here. This is why I don't give receipes for exact body language cues that are supposed to trigger a particular movement but try to suggest a direction and then let the human figure it out with his horse. However, I think I have to find some point on the continuum between providing no description whatsoever (which I think is not helpful) and a full description with all the subtleties (which I think is not possible).

I am so glad that last weekend we got some video material that precisely shows what I mean when I speak about temporal precision and binding one's movement to that of the horse. In this video, Nelly is asking Onti to walk with her and he refuses. I have repeated the scene several times and slowed it down so that it is easier to see. I think it's so great how each of Onti's small movements triggers a movement in her. :)

The full Nelly-Onti video can be watched here.


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PostPosted: Thu Mar 12, 2015 5:52 pm 
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Romy wrote:
However, I think I have to find some point on the continuum between providing no description whatsoever (which I think is not helpful) and a full description with all the subtleties (which I think is not possible).
Yes, that point is hard to find and will be different for each person, I guess. Providing a full description (if that would be possible) would be counter-productive anyway, because it would inhibit those individual parts of the body language cue that I think are required to work on an individual person. A simple copy of a movement from another person can never be as effective a cue as one that is sucessfully integrated into the very own way of moving.

Maybe a good way to explain a movement cue to another might be via associative images - like it is done in Centered Riding. It's usually a good way to explain how a certain movement should feel like.

Romy wrote:
I think it's so great how each of Onti's small movements triggers a movement in her. :)
Indeed there's an interesting dialogue going on :).
I wonder, is Onti a clicker trained horse? The way he reacts to Nelly's reach into the treat pocket is interesting. Just when I can see the idea of following Nelly manifesting itself in Onti's body, she reaches into the pocket. Onti seems to take that as a marker signal, stops all movement and then there's even a hint of turning his head away to wait for a treat ;).
It's interesting how Onti is somehow synchronising his movement to the treats, rather than the human.

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