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Do Horses Communicate in Pictures?
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Do Horses Communicate in Pictures?

I am asked questions like "Can you teach my horse to paint?". "He really looks like he means to paint. How do you do that?". I many times have a moment like Dr. Temple Grandin speaks of with doors and choices to make. I see what is being asked in pictures, and sometimes have to hold back a giggle at what I see.

I see the question as being asked if I set animals down to teach an Art class. I liken that to Autism Week with 25 individuals that happen to navigate life on the Autism Spectrum, with children and their assistants going in different directions, which in horse-speak simply means I am not interesting enough to exchange grazing time for. I digress.

Yes, I can teach other horses to paint, but can I teach you how to ask once I am gone? I would have to defer to "Animals In Translation", by Dr Temple Grandin. Then I would be willing to try. 

I accidentally demonstrated this tuned in gift when I was painting with Chismo with the kids at Autism Week at Camp Tyler in 2017. I remember setting up a painting station with Stuff, our 16-hand TN Walker, that is mostly white and gentle as can be around children.

As I returned to Chismo and began painting with the kids I looked up and thought about how I would like to have handprints all over Stuff and take pics for promotional materials. I never said it out loud so there is no way the therapists working with the children and Stuff could have known my thoughts.

The morning progressed and I had been very busy with Chismo and making sure every child got to hold the canvas for him, and their name was on it so we could reunite them after they had dried.  I looked up again to see Stuff covered in handprints and the last child putting repeating colors of fingerprints all the way around Stuff. Little green, red, blue, yellow, purple—the pattern was better than I could have asked for, and magnificent to see. I did take pictures but wish I had had a professional photographer there that day. 

Was this proof of interspecies, nonverbal communication? I don't mean Dr. Doolittle exchanges, but suggestion through pictures transferred thru powers of suggestion, only it is the horse that did the suggestion. I was not with these children and could not have influenced their decision to place their hands in paint, carefully to not mix the colors, but create a layered palm imprint, with contrasting colors. Again, no one prompted their creativity other than "Would you like to paint Stuff?". 

For me, I did not realize so many people do not understand that cats hiss, and yowel at one another, but sing or meow to humans. It is their attempt to vocalize more like us in order to manipulate our actions. I have heard many different cats sing for their food, and in not so nice tones.

Chismo has very distinct whinnies and I could find him anywhere by his "far away come here" not said like that but it is a consistent tone and duration, like words in a different language, but more like a mother can identify their babies' cry in a nursery of crying babies. You can hear sound, and then you can feel sound, like that thing that makes your toes tap or get up dance when no one is looking. 

So, can I teach your horse to paint? Chismo learned from Autistic children and I just paid attention to the conversation. Chismo is one of a kind and it could take a lifetime to meet another critter so willing to do whatever is asked of him. I can say you will never know what you can do until you try and you can't get there faster than your heart can beat. 

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