What Horse Sounds Mean


Telling How They Really Feel

I read somewhere that horses make eight sounds. It kind of surprised me because I didn’t realize a horse made that many different noises. I basically have heard a horse whinny, nicker, and snorting. Of course I had heard the stallions fight on movies with all their squealing and screaming. So this was interesting to find other noises they make and what they could be trying to say and what a particular horse sound means.

As I have researched this subject I realize I have heard the blowing and sighing, but had not thought about it in this text. So lets see what all this noise is about.


The neighing or whinny is probably the best known sound a horse makes. This is their communication between themselves for the most part. They could be issuing a warning to their pasture pals or just showing off and saying, “Hey, look at me. I feel great.”

Three Nickers:

I like the nickering best. It’s a friendly, happy greeting. Makes me feel like my mare is glad I’m there with her. Of course sometimes when she sees me coming and nickers it’s because she sees the grain bucket, but well, I still like it.

The other nickering sounds are between the stallion and the mare. They are courting.

A mare with her foal has a different, maternal type of nicker when she is telling her offspring about the horses way of life. She teaches her young about dangers and generally shows her affection like any mama does for their young.



When a horse snorts he’s afraid or upset about something. The other day while riding my mare she started snorting and getting out of sorts when she came close to the neighbors hog on the other side of the fence. I did not realize that pigs are carnivorous and horses sense that and think the pig is going to eat them I guess. I tried to help her get over the fright, but it wasn’t happening. So I think it’s best to stay away from that side of the pasture.


Horses squeal when they are getting to know another horse. They are checking each other out. One stomps a bit, the other squeals and they go back and forth. Pretty soon you notice they have gone on about their day. It seems to go along with the blow sound I’ll talk about next.


When horses are sniffing and squealing at each other, they may blow some too. Depending on the outcome of this encounter will determine if they are friends or enemies. A new horse was put in the pen next to my horse. My mare, Poppy, did not like this horse for some reason and she kept lunging at her, ears laid back, and trying to bite her. They have kind of come to a reconciliation of sorts. Poppy tolerates her now, but still warns at times with laid back ears and head tossing at the other horse. I think she’s telling the horse to stay out of her space.


Can’t say I have ever heard a horse roar, so am not sure about this one. The information I found on a horse roaring is it’s called laryngeal hemopligic. That’s quite a term and means the horse has paralysis in his throat. This could have happened if he’s been hurt or he could have been born with it. One opinion stated this doesn’t hurt the horse and they can still do what they do. Another opinion stated opposite and it does affect the way they perform and should and can be made better by surgery. Only a veterinarian can diagnose this correctly.


Horses will scream when they are fighting. Reminds me of the two stallions meeting and fighting over who will lead the herd of mares.


Another sound I read about was a sigh. The sigh lets you know he is not worrying about anything, all is well in his world. That’s a nice contented sound and makes me as a horse owner contented as well.

By the time I got through this article there is actually ten sounds, though at least the one about roaring seems to be a medical sound and not common in all horses. Non the less it is a big one to consider if you come across a roaring horse, whether you are thinking about buying or if one of your own horses developed this sound, it’s good to be aware of it.


Thank you for stopping by my hitching post. Please leave a comment or ask a question, I’ll do my best to answer.

Images courtesy of Pixabay.com

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2 thoughts on “What Horse Sounds Mean

  1. Judy,

    I grew up with a pony and a horse and my brothers and sister had them too. I am familiar with the same sounds that you mentioned except have not heard the roar as yet. I do not have a horse in my life at this time, sad to say. Regardless of that fact, I very much enjoyed this website. Thanks for the information!


    1. Hi Paula,
      I am so glad you enjoyed reading my blog about horse sounds. It was enlightening to me too. That’s what this site is for is learning about horses and reliving fond memories. Thank you again for stopping by. Hope there will be a horse in your future. 🙂

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