The Language

Lately, many theories have been created that have tried to explain the best way to communicate with the horses. Unfortunetely, many of the ethological studies related to horse behavior don’t have the scientific rigor. It often happens that the experimenter justified the theories based on preconstituted ideas and not on what he actually observed.


The History of Clever Hans - The horse that was able to count


To understand the best way to communicate with horses we need to remember the story of Clever Hans. Clever Hans was a German horse that lived in the early 1900’s who was said to be able to do arithmetic and other intellectual tasks. Clever Hans owner… Wilhelm von Osten was convinced to have taught Hans the ability to solve a mathematical problem. Hans had learned to solve a math problem and paw the sum of the problem. Originally, the scientific community thought that Hans was actually solving the problem and concluded that he had the intelligence of a fourteen year old child. Later on Oskar Pfungst a psychologist, proved that Hans was not actually solving problems but was pawing numbers based on the involuntary tensions of the facial muscles of his owner. Von Osten was oblivious that this was happening. Hans would begin pawing with his foot and as soon as he would reach the right number Von Osten would release the tension in his facial expressions thinking that he got the right answer. This was the signal that Hans used to stop pawing and therefore give the right answer. Han’s was able to detect the smallest change of human tension. These signals were involuntary and present even if the trainer was trying to hide them. Pfungst opened the way for research on subliminal language that everyone uses but few are aware that it is happening.