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Horse Body Language: Books for Horse Trainers

Updated on November 16, 2011

People who are training or raising horses will have to understand and decipher horse body language. Understanding horse body language will enforce the relationship between trainer and horse. According to Dr.Camie Heleski, Instructor at at the Department of Animal Science at Michigan State University, many accidents happen due to the trainer not being able to decipher the horse body language.

Happy Horse Body Language: Horses are herd animals, feeling the safest when surrounded by other members of the herd. Trainers typically play the pack leader - the horse will look at you for reassurance and guidance. Always approach the horse with a calm, collected energy. This will translate to a calm horse that will be more susceptible to your directions.

Common horse body language signs of a happy animal include ears that are stretched out towards the trainer, a lowered head, and grazing when the trainer is around them. This shows content and trust. If the horse feels threatened, then they will be more aware around you. The neck of the horse is vulnerable, and they will be less likely to expose it to you if they do not feel safe in your presence. 

Angry Horse Body Language: A horse that is angry will have their ears pointed backwards, as well as show the whites of their eyes. Their jaw and neck will usually be tense - with the horse staring directly at the presumed threat. It is not a good idea to approach a horse in this state. The body language of an angry horse will also show in the horses' face. Flared nostrils and narrowed eyes are the predecessors of a swift kick. Do not approach the horse.

Focus on the horse's eyes and head position when deciphering horse body language. Some breeds of horses will show the whites of the eyes, regardless of their current mood. However, for most breeds, displaying the whites of the eyes usually translates to fright or stress. The horse's body language will be more subdued if you approach it in a more relaxed manner.

The horse body language books right below this post feature a detailed account of proper horse training. Expand your knowledge base as a horse trainer and decipher horse body language with these documents. These books also expand on certain breeds for certain skill levels.

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