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Watch a Horse's Eyes

when Training it &

look inside his soul

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Why the Horse's Eye's are so important when Training him!
Andy Curry

They say the eyes are are the gateway to the soul. When it was
said, they were referring to us humans. But the truth is, it also
refers to horses.

Many horse owners don't understand the importance and usefulness
of the horse's eyes while training. That being so, let me share
with you some things you may find useful - some you may
know...some you may not.

First, there's the eye which reveals a little about the character
of the horse you're working with. It may have a kind eye. A kind
eye indicates the horse will be agreeable to train and will
readily respond to your aids while training.

One way to tell if the horse is nervous is by noting his eyes.
Horses can be very expressive in their looks. And you can tell if
a horse is a nervous horse by the eyes appearing sort of "worried

Obviously, this nervous horse would require more thoughtful
handling than would a non-nervous horse.

I have a horse that would get mad after a while of riding. She
used to get what I call mad eyes. Her expression was actually a
sort of angry expression. Mostly, the expression came from her
eyes. Her eyes would get red after a while.

Jesse Beery, a famous horse trainer from the 1800's, talked a lot
about the eyes of the horse. Even those many years ago he knew
about the horse's eyes. Beery discovered there were four
different disposition types of a horse. Certain characteristics
of the eyes would tell you much about the horse's personality and
how much work it would be to train the horse.

Berry's classic disposition type 3 was most interesting. Beery
said "Where type #2 will allow you to do all the work, type 3
will do all the work for you. You only need to control its

In all my training experience and many things I've read, I concur
with Beery's discovery. The eyes play an enormous role in horse

To read more about Beery and his methods, you can go to this web

There is still more to know about the horse's eyes.

For one, when you work with a horse, it's advisable to look him
in the eye a lot. Why? Because horse's an extremely observant
animal and they study their surroundings. If you're in their
surroundings they are studying you too. If they see you looking
at them in the eye it sends a message to them about who is in

If you're working with a horse that's cunning and known to run
over people then you rarely want to lose eye contact with this
horse. Sometimes when you look away for just a second he knows
it's his chance to charge at you. But keeping eye contact helps
minimize that possibility.

Although a horse's ears are part of the plan. the eyes are how
the horse interprets his world. The horse gladly desires to
approach an object or person that has caused him pleasure.
Likewise, he runs from objects or persons that cause him pain.
(Pain could be a number of things like work, misuse of aids such
as spurs, being talked to in an abrasive manner, etc.)

Lots of horse owners get discouraged with their horse because
they develop bad habits. One particular habit is kicking. I once
read a great book on horses and it said this about kicking:

If a horse kicks at a man and sees he inspired the man with fear
and makes him draw back, he will remember this and kick any man
who goes near him whom he fears or has the memory of displeasure

Note the author said "...and see he inspired the man with fear".
The point is the horse "saw" the man was inspired with fear. The
horse used one of his greatest tools...his eyes. If a man shows
no fear and knows how to handle a kicker, the horse will "see" he
cannot inspire fear in the man and be less apt to kick (although,
if confirmed in the habit of kicking, it may require several
training sessions to eradicate this from the horse's memory).

In short, the eyes are the mirror of the horse's mind. Quiet eyes
indicate quietness and sincerity. Quick and lively eye indicate
vivacity. Restless eyes turning in all directions indicate
suspicion and show the horse is studying all around him and may
perhaps be preparing some freak of self will. Turbid eyes
indicate fear or anger.

There's a proverb that tells us not to trust the horse that shows
the white of his eyes. Perhaps it's because the white shows when
he's looking sideways and he's intent on seizing the moment when
no attention is being paid for escape or attack.

I could go on about the eyes but this hopefully gives you a great
idea as to how important the horse's eyes are. Make it a habit to
continually watch the horse's eyes. Learn what he is thinking by
learning his eyes.

Andy Curry
For information visit his website at

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