It’s probably a silly question- of course, they do. All living species have a form of communication. The better question may be how do horses communicate with man? Is there a right way and wrong way to communicate? Is petting and scratching part of it? I think it is. I think it’s important to talk with your horse and pet and brush them, letting them know you are there.
Right and Wrong
I believe there’s a right and wrong way. One wrong way is when a handler tied a horse close to a post and threw a blanket and saddle on him and jumped on, the horse had no idea what was going on. To him, a predator had just leaped on him and was going to kill him.
Natural horsemanship has been known for centuries thanks to the ancient Greek military man, Xenophon who had written about natural horsemanship. I wrote about him in another post on this blog here.
I’m a firm believer in this is the right way. Kindness and gentleness do go a long way.
As much as I like the old western shows and movies, some scenes could have been eliminated. The ones showing the cowboy getting on a wild horse with no preamble. The horse bucked around the corral and sometimes through the fence. I’d like to think the cowboy cared more about his horse, more than just a means of getting from one ranch to another and through one cattle drive and then another.
Petting and Scratching
I like petting my horse and rubbing between her ears. I like to give her a hug around the neck too. Sometimes I’ve even kissed her on the nose. I read somewhere that this isn’t a good thing to do, but I’m not sure why. I know when I do my little mare looks at me as if to say, “Oh, quit being mushy.” So I don’t do it out of respect for her horsey thoughts on the subject.
I made the acquaintance of a horse the other day. It’s a horse there at the barn where mine is, but she’s usually out in the pasture and I don’t get close to her. This day she was in a small pen by the barn and putting her head over the fence for some attention.
I rested my hands on the fence where she could nose them and sniff them if she wanted. I talked softly to her. Soon I was able to touch her on the neck and then on her face and nose. I stayed on my side of the fence. She stayed close and took in the attention. She watched me walk away. I got the feeling she didn’t want me to go.
Another horse there doesn’t like me petting his nose at all. He wants a treat. My own horse doesn’t really like being petted on the face either and will look away if I try. She does love to be brushed and have a good neck scratch or a scratching around the top of her tail on her rump.
Watching horses when they are on their own is fun and a learning time too. I watch my mare and her neighbor horse. He’s a gelding, looks just like my little mare only he’s a lot bigger. They will touch noses, squeal, and stomp. They will scratch each other’s neck, bite at each other, trot up and down the fence line together, generally visiting or so it seems to me. It’s entertaining to watch.
I think you get a lot more out of horse being gentle and respectful of his space and make sure he is respectful of your space too. I saw a youtube video of a lady telling about petting a stallion between his front legs may be a sexual move. I have had no experience around a stallion, but I think I would take her advice and keep the petting of a stallion around his neck area.
Be careful around horses, especially one you don’t know. Even the gentlest ones can surprise you. Make it a point to be aware of their hooves and where they are at. My granddaughter, who is not able to be around my horse often got stepped on by my horse. I’m glad she wasn’t kicked. My horse doesn’t kick often, been a long time and that’s when she kicked at a dog who she thought was after her grain. So please always be on the watch.
Be ready for those chances to pet and scratch a horse. You will find togetherness and a wonderful experience.
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