Reading a Horse’s Body Language

The horse out in the field is grazing when suddenly he hears or sees something and off he runs round and around the field, kicking, bucking, snorting and then the next minute he is back to grazing. Reading a horse’s body language is an art, takes time, but is well worth it for more enjoyment and safety.

Reading the Body Language:

Horses will stand around and do nothing too. They can be resting with one hoof resting on the tip and a hip all hunkered down. Some lay down with their heads up and be dozing and other times they are laying flat, not a care in the world. When they are like this you know they are contented and at peace with their world.

Horses have a lot of body language, same as people and other creatures. It is a matter of watching them and paying attention to what they are saying. Sometimes when they are curious they will sniff at the object and nudge it with their nose and then be bored. The next time they see the same object they could sniff it and snort, paw at it and run in fright.


Attitude of the Day:

I like to determine what attitude my horse is feeling that day. When she is relaxed and acting calm I’m glad because I know she is happy, at least for the moment. The other day Poppy and I started out in a good mood then someone was shooting their gun at targets.  I had a hard time getting her to calm down. She was pretty antsy and kept looking in the direction of the shots. Poppy was in a tizzy. I lunged her in the arena and rode outside a bit. She finally calmed down enough and I decided to stop on a good note for the day.

He's listening to me.
He’s listening to me.

Other language to be aware of is the ears. I wrote about that in an earlier blog. Some more on the ears are when they are to the side the horse may be bored with the whole situation. When he twitches them at you, he’s listening to what you have to say.


Is the Horse Ready to Kick?

As it’s been said, the eyes are the window to the soul, so are the eyes of a horse. If he shows you the whites there is something bothering him or something is wrong. Watch out for bared teeth or a kick coming at you. If he suddenly turns his backside towards you and his head is down he’s aiming a kick.
Never take a horse for granted. My mare is pretty mellow, but she turned on me once in the arena. I was trying to do some ground work and she got over excited and turned and bucked and kicked at me. I was plenty far enough away to be safe, but if she can act that way any of them can. So always be watchful and aware.


Chewing and Licking:

One of the best things to see is a horse starting to chew and lick their lips. Then you know they are learning and feeling good about something they were just taught.

This is not a complete article on the subject, but it is a start. There is always more to learn and know. Learning how to read your horse and his body language will keep both of you safer and you will have a more enjoyable time with this magnificent creature.

Thanks for stopping by my hitching rail. Please leave a comment or ask a question. I will do my best to answer.

Image courtesy of Pixabay.

14 thoughts on “Reading a Horse’s Body Language

  1. Such an interesting article. Although, I don’t get out as much as I would like, I have been horseback riding many times and love it. I will definitely have to keep some of these things in mind the next time I go! Thanks!

  2. I find horses so fascinating and beautiful, even though I know little about them. This article was a great intro on horse behavior for me. I’m looking forward to reading more!

  3. Very interesting article! I’ve pick up some good tips. Next time when I see a horse, I will paused and observe it! Thanks!

    1. Hi Fannetta,
      Glad you liked the article. There is certainly always something to learn when it comes to horses. Thank you for commenting.

  4. Hey Judy,
    I don’t ride much, but being a country boy I never know when I’ll need to read a horses body language!! Very Helpful!

  5. Love your site and of course I love horses too 🙂 I always look for the chewing and licking when I massage my horse, it is a great sign that what I am doing worked.

    1. Hi Nichole,
      Glad you like my site. I’m having fun with it. I would like to know more about horse massage. That sounds interesting. Thanks for commenting.

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