Horse Body Langauge

Since horses are herd animals, they love to communicate their basic feelings and emotions. Since your domestic horse doesn't have other horses in their herd, they will treat you as one of their herd. Your horse will use a variety of body language to convey their emotions.

A happy horse's body language

A happy horse, enjoying itself is not too concerned about anyone or anything else. If you horse is happy, their body language will become colourful and extravagant. A happy, content horse cantering around a field will more often than not decide to show off their best features with pleasing body language. They will hold their head hight and keep their tail upright. Great fun!

An unhappy horse...

Just like us, horses can fell unhappy or depressed. If this is the case, their body language isn't that hard to spot. Often their ears will be set back and they will have a dull expression in their eyes and on their face. A horse can become unhappy during illness or bullying, and can sometimes become aggressive.

Impatient!

Yes, just like us humans, horses can become impatient too! From time to time it might be like having a small impatient child - the signs are obvious. Your horse may be very demanding of human attention, in which case it may nudge you with it's muzzle. Be careful - a 'nudge' from a horse can be more powerful than you think!

Another typical body language trait of an impatient horse it foot stamping. If your horse wants to come out of it's stable or can't wait much longer for food, he/she may start to stamp their feet. A very clever (and sometimes noisy) was of seeking attention...

Annoyed horses may bite!

When a horse becomes too annoyed, it may bite. It's a way of a horse expressing it's dissatisfaction and anger. If your horse bites you, you shouldn't tolerate it - this is your chance to reinforce that you are in charge, and not the horse. If you think your horse is going to bite you, try a distraction technique to stop them. If they don't stop and manage to bite you, slap them on the muzzle.

Scared or angry?

Both scared and angry horses may show the whites of their eyes, bite and kick, but they are two different emotions, even if the body language can be somewhat similar. It is very unusual for a horse to be aggressive towards a human, but if it is, it will move towards you.

A scared horse will stand still or run away. It's a good idea, if you are trying to get to know the horse, to stand still and wait for it to come back to you, regardless of how long this takes!

Reading your horse's body language can often help you understand their feelings and emotions. Their body language can also let you know when they are unhappy which might be due to illness. Whether happy, sad, annoyed or impatient, understanding your horse's body language can be more important that you think.