Weber's Law in Horsemanship
Before I dedicated myself 100% to Horsemanship, I studied Marketing/Public Relations. It wasn’t necessarily my first choice, but I found it very interesting and since there were no proper studies about Horsemanship in The Netherlands, I chose something else entirely. Weber's Law is a big thing that research and Marketing companies use all the time, for instance when creating a new advertisement or campaign that we see on TV.
'Weber's law is the idea that the just noticeable difference (or JND) between two stimuli is a constant proportion of the intensity of the original stimulus'. Think about loud music or TV noise; it doesn't seem as loud if you've been in the room for a while, but it's loud for someone who just entered the room. The JND is sometimes called 'the difference treshold' since it's about the smallest stimuli that a person (or animal) will or can detect. In the World of Marketing this Law means gradually changing the ingredients of a product, or adding/reducing certain amounts or contents of a product. The change is so small, people don't notice the difference.
In the World of Horsemanship, it gets slightly more complicated; horses aren't people, so Weber's Law applies a bit different to them. What we as humans wouldn't notice because the change is too insignificant, is what horses notice immediately. Our JND's are wired differently to observe and process things in different ways, depending on what's important to us and them.
Body Language (Non-Verbal Communication) would probably be on top of the list: Where we humans foremost rely on our developed, spoken language, animals rely on their ability to read and express Non Verbal cues. Unless you practice this on a regular basis (like dancers do), non-verbal cues can be difficult to read or pick up on at first. To give you some insights, scroll down to read about 9 types of Non-Verbal Communication Types.
What's a Type that you've mastered, or having difficulties with? What's a JND your horse immediately picks up? Maybe it's when you're wearing perfume (when you normally don't) or when you're feeling tense in your body?
What's something your horse always notices?
Zoë van Mourik | Equine Trauma & Behavior Specialist
www.zoevanmourik.com & www.houseofhorsemanship.nl
Zoë van Mourik: Equine Trauma Specialist, Behaviorist