How Can I Read My Horse’s Body Language?

Your horse can communicate with you in various different ways. Your horse’s body language can give you clues about how they are feeling, if they are uncomfortable, or if they want or need something from you.

It’s important in general to establish that you, as the rider, are in control of your horse’s movement, and not the other way around. When you make your horse move, you’re signaling in their language that you are in charge. Sometimes, though, your horse will have a response, so it’s important to know what they are trying to communicate.

How Horses Use Their Bodies to Communicate

  • With their heads. If your horse has their head held high or bobbing up and down, they could be signaling intense interest in someone, something or another horse. In this example, your horse is trying to focus their eyes on something that caught their attention. Another example of “head” language is if your horse performs a body check, which is when a dominant horse blocks the movement of a subordinate herd member with their head. This is maybe a type of threat, and it lets other horses know who is in charge.
  • With their legs. Your horse could paw the ground, which signifies a strong desire to move forward. Horses might do this if they are tied up. It can also be a food-seeking gesture, or it can signal that your horse is having mixed feelings. The front-leg lift is also a form of threat because it demonstrates the “strike” horses use when they are about to defend themselves.
  • With their tails. Your horse can also use its tail to communicate. If the tail is moving directly up and down, it could mean the horse is excited. If it is held high, it could indicate alertness or as a sign that they are ready to play. If the tail is tucked tightly under, your horse could be feeling trepidation if they are facing a dominant animal they are scared of. When horses quickly move their tails, it can symbolize frustration, anxiety or confusion.

If you are interested in a family-friendly stable to board or ride a horse, you should contact Bear Creek Stables today. We can give you more information on riding lessons, camps, and much more.

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