In my discussion of
etiquette and manners, I noted that social customs pervade the
animal kingdom and that you can access an animals intelligence by
its response to proper manners.
As an animal trainer I use a special
test for horses. Part of the test is evaluating the horses
response to a proper "horse introduction". Just like people,
horses have a rigid protocol for introductions and you can always
tell a smart horse by their response to a "polite" introduction.
Monty Roberts has documented all well-defined horse language he
silent language of Equus", and horses do indeed have a
complex non-verbal communication system, primarily spoken through
posture and motions.
When we train horses as guides we must first
communicate with them before teaching them the
23 verbal commands
(as well as many non-verbal hand signals) that the horse must master
to act as a "seeing eye pony". It's important to speak to the
horse, as a horse.
When greeting a horse, you always approach from
the side and stroke their neck. A polite horse will turn to look at
you for a formal face-to-face greeting.
It is very rude to put your hand-up to
the horses nose! Horses have their eyes are on the side of their
heads they have a
12 inches from their nose. Seeing your hand disappear as
you reach and then feeling an unseen touch is very disconcerting
||Next, you put your face at the end of the
horses nose and blow small puffs of air up their nostrils.
The horse will respond in-kind, and the polite horse your
turn their ears straight forward toward you.
This blowing of air is done is
short puffs, about two per second until the scent is acknowledged.
This greeting is the human equivalent of exchanging business cards,
and is analogous to dogs introducing each other by sniffing.
Other animal manners
Over millions of years of evolution, animals
have developed cultural norms and practices of good manners, and
there are hundreds of examples from all mammalian species.
In dogs, it is considered very rude to blow
air into their face. Some larger breeds will attack you for
this rude and unmannerly act.
In monkeys, it is considered extremely rude
to smile or show them your teeth. In response they may
poop in their hand and throw it at you.
Dogs find it very rude to take food away
from their mouth. In a wild pack, even the most
subordinate dogs are allowed to keep whatever food is in their
In stallions it is a huge personal insult
to poop-upon the droppings of another stallion.
If you can think of some that I've missed,
please send me an e-mail at
firstname.lastname@example.org, and I'll be glad to include them on this