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How to understand horse body language

(January 29, 2010)

Horses make great pets and even greater friends. They are extremely communicative animals, and if you can understand them, you will be able to bond with them and train them very easily. However, if you misinterpret your horse and catch it on a bad day, you could get grievously injured. Like human beings, horses too tend to have frenzied moments. They experience mood changes and alter their behavior accordingly.

Nonetheless, horses are extremely communicative and most of their communication is through their bodies and facial expressions. If you watch your horse closely enough for a few days, you will understand when your horse is happy and when it is upset.

Starting from the head of the horse, observe its ears closely. The way the horse carries its ears is an excellent indication of its mood. If the ears of the horse are pricked and it has a wide-eyed gaze, it means that the horse is alert and has found something that has piqued its curiosity. It could also mean that the horse is interested in something.
When the ears are flattened and pushed close to the head, it is an indication that the horse is defensive. If the ears are simply laid back, the horse is relaxed. If the ears are pointing outwards and appear relaxed, it simply means that the horse is relaxing. If you are riding the horse and the horse is either straining its ears or has its ears pointing backwards, it means that it is trying to be attentive to you.

The eyes of the horse are also extremely expressive. The horse may be able to move both its eyes independently. When the eyes of the horse appear to be soft, it is because the horse is at peace and is relaxed. When the horse bares its teeth and shows the white portions of its eyes, it is agitated and feeling threatened.

The eyes of the horse are extremely expressive and may appear angry, tense, or relaxed. However, the real meaning of the expression is best interpreted when the actions of the horse are also observed along with the eyes. When the eyelids are completely open, the horse is alert, and when they are half closed, the horse is most likely tired or sleepy.  
Another way to gauge your horse’s mood is to notice the nostrils of the horse. An angry and agitated horse will flare its nostrils, taking large whiffs and sniffing. It may mean that the horse is investigating a new person or a new place.

Read on issues on horse health and how to understand horse talk

Submitted by N M on January 29, 2010 at 04:25


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