An Israeli organization is offering a technology called Faception, which identifies human behavior based on facial features.  Reported in The Week magazine, June 17, 2016, the company is already working with a U.S. Homeland security agency.  Eighty percent accuracy is reported in identifying nine of the eleven terrorists involved in the Paris terrorist attacks.  Also predicted were two of the three finalists in a 50-player poker tournament.

What does this have to do with horses?

The horse successfully evolved over millions of years in an environment containing great numbers of hungry predatory carnivorous species.

Only mankind’s intervention via domestication and hunting interfered with the equine ability to stay alive and propagate in its natural habitat.  How did it do that?

The horse’s primary defense is flight.  In order for this to be effective, extraordinary perceptivity must be present.

The horse possesses the same five senses we do; sight, hearing, smell, taste and the tactile sense.  But, they are keen beyond our comprehension.  We are a predatory species, not a primarily prey species.

I realized decades ago, after handling many thousands of horses, that the horse’s visual sense is so extraordinarily acute that it not only can pick up the faintest suspicious movement (like something moving through the grass) but also it can detect things we don’t realize.  For example, our facial expression, where our eyes are focused, our stance (relaxed or tense), and our hand position.

Flexed fingers (claw-like) are intimidating to the horse.  So are clenched fists.  If the hands are relaxed and softly flexed at the wrist, the horse sees this as non-predatory.

I learned to approach my equine patients in a non-predatory manner, at a slight angle, not directly confrontational, relaxed, avoiding direct eye contact, not carrying any alarming or suspicious object, my weight on one leg, my focus not on the patient, but on the person presenting the patient if one is present.

As we converse I move closer to the horse, moving gently I rub the withers, then the neck, wait for what I call the “let down”.  (The head lowers and I hear a sigh, and then rub the face.)  The reaction I want is, “Oh, I thought you were a predator, but now I think you are okay.”