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Body Language Of Horses [Hardcover]

Tom Ainslee
3.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (11 customer reviews)
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Book Description

May 1 1980

Horses communicate with remarkable accuracy in a language of posture, gesture and sound. They express their needs, wishes and emotions to each other and to the rare human being who understands them. After reading this unprecedented, exciting and up-lifting book, you will understand the equine language. You therefore will know how to recognize:

A happy horse. A frightened horse. An angry horse. A bored horse. A grieving horse. A frustrated horse. A horse horse in pain. A playful horse. A proud horse. An eagerly competitive horse. And many horses more!

Moreover, you will know how to reassure the frightened, calm the angry, comfort the grieving, divert the bored -- and deal with most other human-equine difficulites. You will know how to educate a foal or rehabilitate a rogue. You will know how to look at race horses on their way to the starting gate and differentiate the likely winners from the losers.

You even will know how to buy a horse.

But best of all, you will finally understand what these grand animals are all about, and you will know better than ever before how they (and we) fit into nature's scheme of things.

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About the Author

Tom Ainslie, the leading authority on race handicapping, is author of The Complete Horseplayer, Ainslie on Jockeys, Ainslie's Complete Guide to Thoroughbred Racing, Handicapper's Handbook, Theory and Practice of Handicapping, Ainslie's Complete Guide to Harness Racing, Ainslie's Complete Hoyle and Ainslie's Encyclopedia of Thoroughbred Handicapping.

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Customer Reviews

Most helpful customer reviews
2.0 out of 5 stars States the obvious and strays off-topic. April 15 2004
By Monika
I was rather disappointed with this book for several reasons. First and foremost, the bulk of the book does not, as the title would have us believe, focus on the body language of horses. A couple of chapters devote themselves to brief descriptions of horse behavior under different circumstances (when happy, angry, frightened, bored, tired, hot, cold, hungry, thirsty, etc.), but the largest sections of the book concern curing problem horses and training foals. At the end there is a chapter on observing the body language of racehorses in order to pick winners, and two appendices on how to buy a horse.
Not only does the book stray from it's purported topic, but the information that IS given about equine body language is so basic and obvious that any true horseperson would already know it, and any aspiring horseperson could learn it all in a matter of a few weeks spent around the creatures. Of course a nervous horse will work up a sweat, a bored horse will get mouthy, and a horse that is irritated by a fly will swish its tail and twitch its skin. There are really only two forseeable uses, in my mind, for this book. The first is as a reference for those who know next to nothing about horses and wish to learn. The second, a slightly different version of the first, is as a guide to non-equestrian racegoers in order to pick winning horses on which to place their bets (and this is not surefire or guaranteed in any way, since pre-race behavior is only one of many factors that determines the outcome of a race).
The book is also considerably old, and a bit dated. It was written and first published in 1980, more than two decades ago. While the basic behavior of horses hasn't changed in that time, much else in the horse world has, including attitudes toward the care and training of horses.
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2.0 out of 5 stars Thoroughly Superficial April 16 2000
By A Customer
The title is misleading. Only 60 pages or so actually go into the "body language" of horses, and about half of that focuses on horses at the racetrack. The rest of the book attempts to cover how horses perceive the world, problem horses, and foal training. It was almost as if the authors did not have enough material for a whole book on horse body language. In their effort to be all-encompassing about various horse conditions (the happy horse, the cold horse, the submissive horse, the sour horse, the tired horse, the thirsty horse, etc.) they skimp on details and nuances as they devote only a brief paragraph (but sometimes a page or two) to each horse type. Perhaps one of the problems with the disjointed coverage stems from the backgrounds of the authors. Ainslie is a racetrack handicapper, Ledbetter is an equestrian. This pairing doesn't necessary work.
This book is probably okay for someone absolutely brand new to horses and unfamiliar with horse behavior. Word of caution to those readers though: don't blindly accept the authors' generalizations about horse body language as applying to all horses in all situations! The authors try to put into human terms the emotions the horse is experiencing. This is a dangerous perspective to take if you're new to horses. Instead, you should be trying to learn how to think like a horse. If you are really interested in horses and what makes them tick, find Moyra Williams' book "Horse Psychology." While Williams won't tell you a tail held high means the horse is happy or proud, her book will offer you much more insight.
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A must read for the handicapper who wants an edge. By understanding the horse itself you'll better understand why "crazy" things happen at the races. Spot longshots that are on their toes and ready to put in a good performance. Look at horses coming off the layoff and have a better understanding of if they are fit and ready. An insight into the mind of the horse - and if you can interpret what the horse may be thinking you can figure out if s/he wants to run! Don't go to the paddock or watch another post parade without reading this book first. It's given me an edge and can help you too!
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I consider this book is wonderful for the person who loves horses and tries to understand them. Puts together millions of little details that we notice every day in our horses and which we understand, revealing all those horse attitudes the experienced horse person has learned to recognize and interpret. There is a lot of useful information on how to deal reasonably with different kinds of horses and how to distinguish them. It is very valuable for any person working to achieve a better human-equine communication. It has reached the top shelf in my "horse library".
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3.0 out of 5 stars Interesting Dec 30 1999
By A Customer
Initially, I found the writing style irritating - it read like a list of individual symptoms and observations which seemed out of context and could only make sense when considering the whole environment. I put this book down and read another "A good horse is never a bad color". Armed with a better appreciation for horse psychology and behavior, I was able to appreciate this book properly, which provides specific examples and valuable additional insight into horse body language.
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5.0 out of 5 stars I love this book! May 1 2000
For someone who is just learning about horses, as I am, this book is a gratifying shortcut. It tells what to expect, what to do and not do, and basically---how horses think, act, and react, and what their real needs are. I couldn't put it down...and thank the authors for being so thorough! I've observed some "veteran" horse persons whose horse-wisdom would be enhanced mightily if they read this book from cover to cover. Five stars!
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