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How To Read A Horse's Body Language

Updated on January 10, 2015

So, you've gotten a new horse and are unsure what all the little at actions and differernt body langugue means? You may not even realize it but, every action of a horse, has some meaning. Horses are very reactive creatures and sometimes can be hard to read. But, if you pay close attention and know what to look for. You might just know what your horse's actions mean or why they are reacting that particular way.

Ears pinned not happy, had to eat dinner a few minutes late, at the horse show.
Ears pinned not happy, had to eat dinner a few minutes late, at the horse show.


Let's start off with the ears of a horse, the ears can be a tell all. If you notice your horses ears perk up, this generally means something has gotten it's attention, rather that's you talking or something spooky on a trail ride. Pinned ears, where your horse's ears are flattened back. This can be a dangerous sign. This can mean your horse is angry or even irrated, by maybe your actions or even other horses, around it. Watch for pinned ears, if you are riding. That can lead to bucking or rearing. This sign can help keep you safe and give you a heads up.


So, what are the legs saying? Pawing the ground can be signs of anger or impatients. A back leg raised, can be that the horse is angry/unhappy and warning that it will kick. Hind hoof/leg resting means relaxed and ok with its surroundings.


The tail can give off a lot of body language. A sunk in or pulled in tail can be signs of fear or anxiety. Swishing of the tail heavily can be a sign of discomfort/pain or even irrationan. Swishing of the tail can even mean the horse has flies on its legs or butt. Make sure to have fly spray handy, if needed.

Relaxed and at ease tail. Just a little dirty haha.
Relaxed and at ease tail. Just a little dirty haha.
Relaxed And Listening
Relaxed And Listening | Source

Body Stance

Last but not least, let's talk about the horse's over all body stance. Lets say it backs up or crouches would be a fearful/scared horse. This could happen just in the stall when you try to approach or even on a trail ride trying to cross water. Or maybe the horse has its neck/head down, just being at ease and isn't really giving anything much attention then, the horse would be relaxed. Maybe the horse tenses up all the sudden and body gets tight, this would give off the appramce of trying to challenge you or maybe a pasture mate. Knownig how to read a horse's body language is very important and a major way to keep yourself as well as the horse safe.


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