ABOVE:  A small color study by Barbara Wright of an original large painting by Merrill Mahaffey, Arizona landscape painter famous for his fabulous paintings of the Grand Canyon, Colorado River, Lake Powell and Colorado Plateau scenic monuments.

and Equine Welfare Fund
5065 East Cedar Creek Drive
Cornville AZ 86325
Land:  928.649.0199
Cell:  443.517.7085


Home of Wright-ESCT(tm) Equine Stress Control Therapy, PEAT Equestrian
Performance Coaching and Harmony
Horsemanship Classical Riding

April 2018

1.  "First Touch" is our April/May/June Equine Raffle Canvas Print
2.  Horsemanship Revisited
3.  Art for Sanctuary Horses through the Equine Welfare Fund
4.  Feelings and Emotions in Horses

ABOVE:  Another small color study of a painting by Barbara Wright from an original by Merrill Mahaffey, this time capturing the subtle yellow light often flooding the sides of the Southwest's canyons.  Mahaffey is a consummate colorist and the best teacher for any artist wanting to learn the nuances of the West's illuminations.

Feelings and Emotions in Horses

Do horses have an ego?  Do they have emotions?  We wonder how they feel themselves in the world and how they process information.  David M. Hawkins, M.D., Ph.D., who has calibrated the consciousness levels of every living creature from an amoeba to Koko the hand-signing gorilla, has calibrated the level of consciousness of the horse species to be 235-245.  Farm horses tend to calibrate at 235 and racehorses at 245.  He says that horses who spend quality time with integrous people automatically raise their own calibration, too.  Note that the human species calibrates at 204-207 overall, so the equine species calibrates higher than mankind!  (Power vs. Force, Truth vs. Falsehood, et al.).  Hawkins also says that any living species calibrating above the level of 200, the level where integrity begins, has an individuated consciousness, not a group awareness such as a school of fish or a flock of birds.  This means they have an individual sense of who they are as a separate being.  They know.  What differentiates them from an evolved human at a level beyond the low 200s is that humans know that they know.  They are aware that they are aware.  Horses are simply aware.

As far as emotions go, horses experience pleasure and pain – and all the emotions between – just as we do.  Their physical suffering is no different than yours or mine.  Their enjoyment of a snooze in the sun equals ours in a hammock on a summer afternoon.  Their playful behavior reflects ours when we have fun.  Their bonding to their young is the same as the love we feel for our little ones.  We are the same in brain evolution up to the point of the frontal cortex.  We have the same reptilian brain stem that horses have and, at the other end, we have the most highly developed frontal and pre-frontal cortex in the animal kingdom.  What we have that horses do not have is expansive verbal language and an advanced ability to think abstractly.  Horses use body language and their choices are made simply on what makes them feel safest.  There are exceptions to this with some horses having demonstrated uncanny abilities  to make decisions that involve complex choices not involving cues given to them by humans.  (Beautiful Jim Key, for instance).

With a horse, the “what you see is what you get” factor works in a big way.  That’s not to say they won’t play with your mind and challenge you – that’s their job as a herd animal – to test the leader.  Your leadership needs to be deserved in their eyes, not bestowed simply by the fact that you are human and more “highly evolved” than they are. They have no concept of that higher evolution and simply go on how safe you make them feel.   Remember, they calibrate higher than your own species on the Map of Consciousness.”  (David R. Hawkins, M.D., Ph.D., Truth vs. Falsehood and Power vs. Force, Veritas Publishing).

The main difference in the ways horses and humans process information is that horses think in slide format and humans think in video format.  We can rewind and fast forward in our minds, going back in time and we can imagine different future outcomes.  We can live in 3 time zones – past, present, and future and even run several tapes at one time.  Horses live in the present and compare what comes up to a reaction they store in memory, like a file in a filing cabinet, pull it out, compare it to the current situation and then react – fight or flight, stay and play or run away.  They cannot imagine a different outcome to a situation while they are in that situation – unless their fear cycle is effectively interrupted.  Their brains, however, can be reprocessed so that the next time a similar situation comes up, the old memory has been replaced with a new one with the neural reprocessing generated by ESCT (Equine Stress Control Therapy).  It works the same way in horses that EMDR (Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing) works in humans by interrupting the fear cycle, breaking up the old neural network in the brain, and laying down the traces of a new one that replaces the old one.  Interrupting the fear cycle is key here.  It is the simple interrupt that starts the reprocessing of neural networks.

I do not know of any studies that have tested EMDR on animals, but I have been working with horses and ESCT since 2002 and know it works.  ESCT is the EMDR protocol devoid of languaging but using eye movement and tapping  to achieve results without the language overlay.   I have also used the therapy on dogs and found it to be very helpful .  It is called Canine Stress Control Therapy (CSCT).  EMDR therapists have called me and said they had considered doing this, too, but simply hand not figured out how to go about it with animals.  EMDR uses bilateral body tapping, horizontal eye movement, bilateral sound and tracking lights. The method that works best on horses is using the automatic  ESCT pulser that emits gentle bilateral rhythmic vibrations (not shock).  The pulser is attached to the headstall of the horse and the on/off switch, speed and intensity levels are the controls used by the human to administer ESCT to the horse.  The protocol needs to be learned and adhered to.  Letting the pulser run on and on is forbidden.  That creates nothing beneficial for the horses and is never used that way on humans. 

For information on Equine Stress Control Therapy (ESCT) and the ESCT Pulser, contact:  Barbara Wright, Harmony HorseWorks, 5065 East Cedar Creek Drive, Cornville AZ 86325.   Email: harmonyhorsewrks@aol.com, Web site:  www.harmonyhorseworks.com.


The equine art created at Harmony HorseWorks is available in original or print and proceeds ALL go to the support of rescue horses.  It helps pay for their hay, grain, medicines and supplements.  Whenever you purchase an original painting or a print, you help the horses and they send their nickers and neighs for your kindness.  Other works available are seen on-line at www.barbarawrightart.com.

"First Touch" is our April/May/June equine art raffle print.   Here two horses, mare and stallion, meet for the first time.  The proper equine protocol on first meeting is usually to touch muzzles and sniff the breath of the other horse, a signature that remains in each horse's memory for future reference.   Each $15 you donate to Harmony HorseWorks gets you one raffle ticket and you can enter as often as you like.  Checks are sent to the address in the left column of this newsletter.  The original painting, 24 x 36 inches, is also for sale and you can contact Barbara Wright regarding price and shipping.  The raffle print is approx. 1/4 the size of the original painting, printed on wrapped canvas, ready for hanging.  No framing is needed.  Enter as often as you like and good luck!

Samples of Barbara Wrights' art are in the photo just below.  See her work at:

This information appeared in one of our newsletters several years ago and it is worth repeating again.  Dr. Bruce Nock comes from an equine behaviorist's point of view, but his POV is tempered by compassion and insight into the horse's emotional life.  In training our horses, we often return to the advice in his book, TEN GOLDEN RULES OF HORSE TRAINING.  The following is excerpted from his book. 



Universal Laws for all Training Levels and Riding Styles


1.  Aids and cues are signals for change.  A cue is a sign designed to elicit a particular response.  An aid, similar to a cue, is used to modify the movement or balance of a horse under saddle.  Often the two words are used interchangeably.  They are both directives that tell a horse to change something that he is doing.

2.  Signals should stop as soon as the horse begins to make an acceptable response.  The cues and aids should remain silent until the next request as long as the horse is staying responsive to what was asked.  If cues and aids are ongoing, horses become desensitized to them and eventually stop responding.

3.  Signals should never be ignored.  Don't take no for an answer unless, for some reason, the horse is unable to respond.  Primary signals can be supported by secondary signals (whoa followed by passive resistance with the reins, for instance).  Pressure with the signal is increased gradually until the desired reponse is obtained.

4.  Signals should be distinct.  If the horse is unlikely to respond satisfactorily, don't signal.  It is much better to focus on improving a horse's mental state when he is frightened or excited than to give him commands that might only exacerbate the situation by escalating his emotional state even further.  Don't give conflicting signals.  Don't give double signals if they can be avoided (i.e., stop while I am driving you forward into the bit).

5.  A response should be easy for the horse to make.  Unless you are conditioning a horse for higher performance, if you ask a horse to do something that is difficult for him to do, you will have to be forceful to get him to do it.  Break training down into small steps and work through them one at a time and the difficulty will be overcome in time.

6.  Rewards enhance sensitivity to signals only when they immediately follow an acceptable response.  A reward should always be a consequence of the rider's initiative rather than that of the horse.  Always rewarding a horse is counter-productive because we know they learn to expect it.  Reward more in the beginning of a training session to encourage the desireable behavior and then less and less as the horse "gets it."

7.  Undesirable behavior worsens only if it is rewarded.  An undesirable behavior must be corrected every single time that it occurs, with absolutely no exceptions for optimal effectiveness.  The hardest behaviors to extinguish are those that have been rewarded intermittently.

8.  Undesirable behavior extinguishes if it is not rewarded.  A correction discourages undesirable behavior because it prevents the horse from attaining the reward, not because it punishes the horse.  Corrections supress undesirable behavior permanently.  Punishment does not.  Punishment often has severe negative side effects.  Corrections do not.  Corrections encourage proper behavior while punishment does not, and punishment usually begins where human knowledge ends.

9.  The reaction to a stimulus will dwindle if the stimulus continues while the reaction occurs.  Here we are not talking about "flooding" or "sacking out," methods still used to desensitize horses through force, creating horses that lack affect and perform in a mechanical sort of way without enthusiasm.  Burying horses in grain or sand up to their neck is one method of "flooding."  For a claustrophobic animal, being buried alive is like that room in the novel 1984 where you are imprisoned with your greatest fear.  The trick is to implement the next golden rule, no. 10, without the fearful reaction occurring.  (ESCT, for instance, works exceptionally well in doing this).  There is a point in ESCT when maintaining the stimulus while the horse is being pulsed with the ESCT pulser can produce quick and effective results.  This technique is introduced only after a series of short approaches and retreats while using the pulser and after the horses initial reactivity has dropped.  The pulsing interrupts the fear cycle and allows the horse to accept the stressor while it is in place.

10.  The reaction to a stimulus will dwindle if the stimulus terminates with the reaction occurring.  Just as a release of an aid is rewarding when riding, so is the withdrawal of a stimulus that arouses even slight apprehension.  Generally, the smaller the size, the less the sound, the less the movement and the less the structural complexity of the stimulus, the less the reaction to it.  Desensitization is a process that goes more quickly when you proceed slowly.  The approach and retreat method of introduction and removal of the stressor is one of the hallmarks of good training and part of the ESCT process.  Respecting the horses fear and working with it instead of against it moves desensitization along much more quickly.  Working with a flag, for instance, starts by introducing the flag low and folded and out of the horse's personal space, then gradually coming closer, unfolding it, touching him, raising it next to him, raising it over his head, etc.  It is a process.


ABOVE:  Flowers for the Altar, pen and ink and watercolor sketch by Barbara Wright depicting Cathedral Rock in Sedona, AZ.  Named "Palatkwapi" or red altar by the Native Americans, this monument is considered sacred territory and visitors sense its special glow.  The plant is a dried yucca bract.

Harmony HorseWorks is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit corporation in good standing, FEIN 200763702.  We support horses in Colorado with donations and proceeds from ESCT products and PEAT therapy programs, as well as art by Barbara Wright.  We are partially funded by public donations.  Your donations are needed and welcome.