I was watching a riding lesson, a mixed Class of adults and children. The horses were all well known to me. The riders skill levels varied from advanced beginner to just beyond scared stiff. Fascinated, I watched one particular horse whom I knew could be a fire breathing cow pony. Under his timid rider he was plodding along like a plow horse, head down, and quiet. Not every horse has this trait, or at least not all show it. Those who do have it seem to read their rider and gauge their own behavior accordingly. How does this come to pass? The truth is that no one really knows. The famous British novelist Dick Francis claimed it was telepathy. Some say it is the horse’s highly developed sense of smell – they smell fear, for instance. Of course some of it is explained by the horses mama and papa, and I am betting that it has a lot to do with how the horsey brain operates with experiences, memories, and innate herd behaviors. In addition to all these things, I can't help thinking that the rider's seat bones transmit a lot of information through the saddle to the horse's back muscles. Changes in balance, tension, and weight are definitely part of the silent language of the horse.
If Ol’ Rimrock has the right upbringing and genetics, he can sort out a rider who is fearful or uncertain and slow down to babysitter mode. Then, when a rider sits the saddle with confidence, giving clear consistent signals, with his body in balance, he can "get down and get funky.”