Pets > Horses
Because of their size and strength, horses are often misunderstood by people who don't know much about them. They often assume horses require little care - just stick them in a field and they'll be fine. They also tend to underestimate the safety aspects of being around horses - safety for both horse and human. Finally, many novice horse people, and even some experienced ones, don't understand horse behaviour and communication and so handle the horse inappropriately.
Understanding what horses are saying
Consistency and follow-through are simply a matter of self-discipline on our part, but appropriate response is only possible if we understand what we are responding to. In other words, we have to learn to understand what our horses are saying. After all, why should a horse trust a person who responds angrily to her fear on the one hand, or sheepishly to her bravado on the other?
Because people are verbal, we tend to dismiss other forms of communication. Horses don't use words. They don't even use sounds to any great extent. But watch horses as they interact with one another and with people. Their ears, eyes, muzzles, tails and body posture are all communicating.
Horses are social animals. As herd members, they interact with other horses continually and use a system of communication to let herd-mates know what they want and don't want. (Animal behaviourists disagree about how much animal communication is under conscious control and how much is automatic reaction to a stimulus, but that argument needn't concern us here.)
Calls, body positions, movements, and odours are all methods of communication. We can't sense the odour or chemical messages, but we can see and hear the others. Sit on the fence some sunny afternoon and be a silent spectator. See what signals you can recognize. The ability to understand horse body language makes our association with horses more rewarding and safer.