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How to understand horse talk

(January 29, 2010)

Horses are highly intelligent animals with very specific ways of communicating with their masters and their riders. However, to really understand what a horse is trying to tell you, it is important to learn how to understand the cues it gives. Horses communicate using certain actions and by making some noises. All horse trainers are adept at understanding the body language of a horse so that the horse training can proceed accordingly.

Some of the basic forms of communication that a horse uses and how you should interpret it are listed below:

  • Ears

A horse’s ears are a sure shot indicator of its mood. If the ears are pricked and are at an alert position, it means that your horse is alert and sees something that is of interest to it. If the ears of your horse are flattened, it may either be angry or trying to concentrate. If the flattened ears are accompanied with flashing of the teeth or the whites of the eyes are visible, the horse is extremely angry and may be preparing to attack. When the ears are pulled backwards, it is an indication that the horse is afraid, sleepy, or angry. However, when the horse turns its ears backwards while you are riding it, the horse is trying to listen to you intently. When the horse is completely relaxed, its ears tend to flop.

  • Facial Expression

In almost all animals, bared teeth are a clear sign of danger. Bared teeth are an indication that the animal is either angry or upset. However, if the horse bares its teeth and nudges you affectionately, it is simply trying to show its affection to you. Bared teeth are usually a sign of anger only if it is accompanied by other hostile actions like pacing and jerking. If you find that the horse has closed its eyes halfway, it is an indication that the horse is happy and relaxed.

  • Actions
Swishing of the tail is usually a sign of anger, but should be observed in conjunction with other signs in order to truly understand its meaning. If the horse is baring its teeth, swishing the tail, flattening its ears back and stamping its feet, it means that the horse is upset or angry.
When a horse wants to show affection in reciprocation to being groomed or petted, it responds by nibbling either the shoulder or the hand.

More on how to understand horse body language
Submitted by N M on January 29, 2010 at 04:29


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