Your horse can’t speak words, but he communicates in other ways with you. Through a series of body movements and vocalizations, your horse can tell you when he is relaxed, frightened, proud, and so much more. It’s important to watch carefully for these signs because sometimes they are extremely subtle.
If you’ve ever been curious as to what your horse is thinking, here’s a way to get closer to understanding.
- Ears: The position of his ears can tell you a lot about how he is feeling. If they are pinned back, he is upset or not enjoying the situation. Slightly forward indicates he is relaxed, while straight forward means his attention is on something. Loosely hanging sideways can suggest he is focused, but comfortable.
- Eyes: Very open, wide eyes can indicate he is alert and possibly concerned about something. Droopy eyes suggest he is sleepy and very relaxed.
- Mouth: A tight chin and lips mean he is nervous or uncomfortable, while a droopy, drooling lip is a sign of relaxation. A curled up lip is his way of identifying an unknown smell.
- Legs: A cocked hind leg and hoof suggest your horse is relaxed. Legs that are sprawled out can mean he is about to take off. Sometimes your horse may paw or strike the ground with his front hoof to indicate frustration or boredom.
- Whole body: A hollowed back and clamped tail are a sign he is nervous and unhappy with the situation. A slow, sluggish horse can be relaxed or simply not feeling good. If he’s moving around quickly and stirred up, he could be anxious or about to bolt.
- Sounds: Depending on the pitch of the neigh, your horse could be anxious and calling for friends, excited to see you, or hungry. In the field, your horse may squeal when threatened or being introduced to a new horse. A sigh can indicate relief.
Your horse has been communicating with you all along. Have you been listening?