Horses may not be able to speak, but they most certainly communicate. Horses have deep, complex ways to express themselves to one another. Herds also have a hierarchy of who is in charge and who isn’t, and you can really observe that play out during feeding time.
The most noticeable communication signs you will see in this video between horses are:
Squealing / snorting
Spinning to kick or back up at another horse
Reaching neck and head out, as if to bite
But not all communication between horses presents itself as “mean/aggressive”. Horse language is complex and ambiguous. Not every interaction in this video was captioned. What else did you notice? What communication did you see happening in the background?
Human Dynamics and Code-switching
Dynamics and communication are fascinating to observe in other critters, and also important in our human lives. Group dynamics and culture affect us at school, in our jobs, in our families, with our various friend groups. And we often behave and communicate differently in different social settings.
Our ability to switch how we communicate with different groups is called “code-switching”. Some of us code-switch more than others. For example, if you speak a different language in your home than you do at school, that is more of switch than if you speak the same language everywhere. But the different ways we use phrases, inflection, ideas, references, and body language based on the social setting… all these things count as a part of how we code-switch in our daily lives.
Understanding the different ways we communicate with different people in different circumstances is a skill set we are *all* developing for our entire lives. And it can be really helpful if we are conscious of it. Then you can consider if that’s a role you want to continue with, or maybe you’d like to try something a little different. You get to decide!
Activity: Your Personal Herd Dynamics and Code-Switching
Grab a journal and a pen/pencil and find your favorite place to ponder...
Make a list of all the different communities you consider yourself a part of.
For example, you might include: your family at home, your extended family (cousins, aunts, uncles, grandparents, etc.), your friend group at school (maybe you are part of more than one friend group at school), your Ekone community, friend groups from other hobbies (soccer team, drama club, etc.).
Then, spend some time considering the dynamics and communication style from each group.
What role do you fill in each group? Is it the same? Different? Variations of a similar role? Not all groups have a hierarchy, like the herd in this video, but some do. Write down some thoughts on the dynamics for each of your groups, and the role you play in each.
Now, think about when / if you are code switching from group to group.
For example, are you more quiet and shy in one group, but more of a leader in another? Are there groups you feel more at ease, more yourself – and others that make you feel more nervous? And don’t worry – no one role is better than another!
Finally, consider if any of these dynamics changed or been affected by the pandemic.
What has it been like to be with your family so much more? How are your friend relationships affected not being able to see each other? If there has been a change, how does it make you feel? What have been the challenges? What have been the opportunities you hadn’t noticed before?
Want to take it further…?
Think about someone in your life who may be code-switching a lot. How do you think that feels? Exciting? Exhausting? Have they ever mentioned it to you before? If they are someone you feel comfortable with (and they feel comfortable with you), you could consider asking them about it. You can let them know you are learning about code-switching and wonder what they think.
Remember, that other people’s experiences are always valid, even if you have never experienced what they are talking about. That’s the coolest part about conversations, is getting to hear how other people experience the world!
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