Watch how your horse has his head positioned. As with other parts of the horse’s body, your horse will move his head in different ways depending on how he’s feeling. The position of his head signals a variety of moods.
- If your horse is holding his head high, he is showing that he is alert and curious.
- A lowered head could mean several different things. It could mean that your horse has accepted a particular situation or command. It could also mean that your horse is depressed, which could require additional workup from your veterinarian
- If your horse is snaking his head (lowering his head slightly and moving his neck from side to side), he is showing signs of aggression. If possible, remove your horse from whatever is aggravating him. If you cannot do this safely, move as far back from your horse as you can until he calms down.
- Your horse may turn his head to look back at its flank, which could signal abdominal discomfort.
Observe how your horse moves his tail. Your horse will swish his tail for reasons than swatting away flies or insects. Although natural tail position can vary by breed, there are some tail positions that are common across breeds.
- In addition to swatting away bothersome pests, tail swishing can also indicate agitation and can be a warning for other horses to keep their distance. If your horse is agitated, he will swish his tail more quickly and aggressively than if he was swatting away pests.
- Your horse will often raise his tail when he is feeling happy and alert. In foals, a tail held high over the back can indicate either playfulness or alarm.
- If your horse’s tail is clamped down, your horse may be experiencing some discomfort, such as a fly on his underside.
Observe how your horse’s neck looks and feels. Your horse will hold his neck in different ways to convey whether he’s feeling tense, relaxed, etc. Knowing these different neck positions will help you better understand your horse’s body language.
- If your horse’s neck is stretched out and the muscles under his neck feel loose, this can indicate that he is relaxed and happy.
- If the muscles under your horse’s neck feel tense, your horse probably feel stressed and unhappy.
- Spend time simply watching your horse from a distance. This will help you get a better understanding of how your horse uses specific body parts, and body parts in tandem, to communicate.
- Understanding how your horse communicates will take some time, but it will be time well spent so that you can know what your horse is trying to say.
- If you are unsure what your horse is trying to tell you, consult a horse expert that will help you better understand your horse’s body language.
- Remember that one facial expression or action, such as stamping feet, can mean a multitude of things.
- Horses are prey animals and will likely see you as a predator. Because they are such large animals, knowing the body language that indicates when your horse feels threatened or in danger will help protect you from injury.