Decoding Equine Communication: Part 1 – Understanding a Horse’s Body Language

Unveiling the Secrets: What a Horse's Ears, Forelegs, and Muzzle Reveal

Although it would be incredible to engage in horse-human communication akin to human-to-human interaction, the reality is that most verbal communication with horses is not feasible. While we can understand their nickering when they receive treats, horses primarily rely on nonverbal communication, such as expressions, postures, and gestures. Here is part one of what you should know about a horse’s body language. You will learn essential clues about what your horse, or the horses you ride here at Lost Trails Ranch in Mulberry, AR, are thinking.

What a Horse’s Ears Can Tell You

The position of a horse’s ears can tell you a lot, including if he is alert and paying attention to something or if he is about to kick or bite.

Turned Back Ears: Your horse may be listening to something behind him if his ears point backward. He may be deciding if he should turn around and check out the sound or run away. He may be tense or angry if his ears are turned backward and pinned and he has a swishing tail.

Ears That Are Swiveling Rapidly: Your horse may be alert or feel anxious if his ears are flicking back and forth. He may have noticed a strange smell or frightening sound and may be overwhelmed.

Ears Turned Out to the Sides: When a horse’s ears are turned out to the sides, he may be relaxing or asleep. Call out the horse’s name or make some noise before approaching him so you don’t startle him.

A horse exudes grace and readiness.

Serene Equine Bliss: A Horse Basks in Relaxation with Ears Turned Outward

What a Horse’s Forelegs Can Tell You

You have likely been told to be careful of a horse’s hind legs to avoid getting kicked. The front legs can also communicate a lot to you.

What Pawing Means: Pawing can indicate that the horse is impatient or bored, like when tied up. Horses may also paw when they are stressed or excited around feeding time.

While it is rare, pawing may indicate anger. If the horse’s ears are pinned, and the pawing is forceful, it is time to get out of his way.

Stomping and Striking: If a horse is stomping, he is likely irritated. It may be minor, like irritation over flies that bother him. Or it could indicate that you are doing something to frustrate your horse. Striking may be defensive or aggressive. Striking can be especially dangerous for you, so watch out for other warning signs like wide eyes, pinned ears, and stomping.

What a Horse’s Muzzle Can Tell You

You can learn much about what a horse feels with the position of his muzzle and the noises he makes, like when he whinnies or nickers.

Chewing and Clacking Teeth: If a horse is chewing, this is usually a good sign while he is getting trained. It could indicate he is thinking and learning. You may see a horse clacking his teeth if he is young. It is how young horses tell other horses that they are more submissive and to prevent themselves from getting hurt.

young horse

Young Horses Can Find a Voice Among Older Equine Companions

Flared Nostrils: Horses usually flare their nostrils when they exercise and during the time right after exercise. It’s also a warning that the horse is nervous, and the situation may escalate, so take heed quickly.

Schedule Time With Horses Today

As time goes by, our fascination with the incredible communication abilities of horses only grows stronger. We warmly invite you to embrace this enchanting phenomenon by scheduling trail riding and horse bonding sessions here at Lost Trails Ranch in Mulberry, AR.

Come and witness firsthand the extraordinary connection that unfolds when horses express themselves with you. Additionally, explore our inviting lodges and restaurant, offering a complete experience where you can immerse yourself in the company of these magnificent creatures and find solace from the demands of everyday life.

 

 

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Written by Taiye

Friday, Jun 23

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