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Horses Facial Expressions and Body Language


Amy Perkins

on 18 May 2015

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Transcript of Horses Facial Expressions and Body Language

Frustrated or Angry
Being able to identify your horses behaviour is important for their health and general well being. Horses use a mixture of body language signs and facial expressions to present their feelings.
Relaxed or Resting
Amy Perkins

Understanding Horses Emotions Through Facial Expressions and Body Language
Facial Expressions When a Horse is Angry
Nose and Mouth
A horse that is happy and relaxed may have their eyes half closed or even fully closed if they are sleeping
Facial Expressions
and Body Language

If a horse is frustrated, sad, sleepy, happy or any other feelings, they will let people know through facial expressions and body language, horses are good at this.
Horses will show their fear in different ways using facial expressions and different body language.
Nose and Mouth
If a horse bares its teeth or bits either you or another horse while showing multiple feared or angry traits, this is a sign of aggression. Also if a horse is flaring its nostrils and snorting,this can be a sign of anger or fear.
The eyes may show a bit of the white, which means business, particularly if it is with other horses.
Flattened ears generally shows that a horse is irritated and trying to get either another horse or you to stop irritating him.
Fore legs
Back legs
Back Legs
One back leg kicking out shows an aggressive
but when a horse kicks both legs out, this shows that the horse is angry.
When horses are angry they can rear up and strike both you or other horses with both legs. They can also strike without rearing this can still result in hitting you or the ground with their hoof.
When a horse is swishing their tail, they are often angry or frustrated, but only when associated with other angry signs. Tail swishing warns other horses to keep their distance and can also be a natural reaction to get rid of insects.
Fore Legs

Discomfort or Illness
Body Language When Relaxed
Head and Neck
Facial Expressions When a Horse is Relaxed
Horses facial expressions and body language can tell you a lot about how they are feeling.
Body Language When a Horse is Angry
Chin and Lower Lip
Chin and Lower Lip
Head and Neck
Often when a horse relaxes a hind foot or leg this shows they are relaxed or tired.
When a horse has its ears to the side this shows they are relaxed. If the horse is being ridden and the ears are to the side this shows the horse is concentrating and relaxed.
When a horse is very sleepy or relaxed their chin and lower lip will often go droopy.
With the head low this can be a sign of tiredness or depression so make sure your able to identify what your horse is feeling.
How to Understand Horses Emotions
Have you ever wanted to know what a horse is trying to tell you? With these easy steps you will be able to have a better understanding of what your horse is trying to tell you through their expressions and body language.
When a horse is calm and resting, their tail will be loose and relaxed in a comfortable position, hanging down, not in a tense form.
Facial Expression When a Horse is in Discomfort or Ill
Mouth and Nose
Body Language When a Horse is in Discomfort or Ill
Mouth and Nose
One eye shut can be a sign that your horse has a medical issue, so its good to look to see if the eye is weeping or has any discharge. The eyes should be clear and not runny, and able to fully open and close.
The back being raised and tight can be a sign of discomfort due to the saddle or a sore in the area.
Resting a leg can be a sign of discomfort in that limb or the horse could simply be relaxing it. The horse may also show lameness or limping by holding their foot above the ground every time they walk or trout.
When the horse is in discomfort it can result in clamping its tail down for example if there is a fly under the dock of the horse, this will bother it. Tail swishing can also be a sign of discomfort.
Groaning can be an indicator that a horse is sick. Discharge can come from the nose or mouth, such as blood or pus. It is also a good idea to check out the horses mucus membranes if they are showing signs of illness. The mucus membrane should be pink, but when their sick it can show as white, yellow, blue, or black.

If a horse is ill they will look dull and their ears don't respond to sounds around them.
Happy or Playful
Mouth and Teeth
Facial Expressions When a Horse is Happy
When a horses eyes are open and bright this means they are happy and taking in their surroundings.
Ears forward is a sign that the horse is alert and attentive, often this shows happiness.
Mouth and Teeth
Horses bite each other while grooming for pleasure and social interaction. This is usually associated with a relaxed tail and a happy expression.
Body Language When a Horse is Happy
When a horse raises its tail in the air it can be a sign of playfulness and is usually accompanied by a bright happy and alert expression. Horses often have high tail when playing in the field.
Head high is a sign that the horse is alert and curious of its surroundings and is usually associated with alert ears, bright eyes, and a focused expression.
It is important to understand how your horse communicates through facial expressions and body language.
Biting vs. showing teeth
Bucking and rearing can be a sign of playfulness only if its associated with other happy and playful expressions.
Look at the horses facial expressions.
Horses facial expressions will tell you a lot about how they feel.
The ears:
Looking at the ears can be very helpful when trying to indicate their mood.
The eyes:
Different eye positions can represent different emotions.
Other parts to check out are the mouth, nose, chin and lips.
Look at the horses body language and actions.
Some actions may be nibbling, stamping feet, different movements of the tail, bucking, rearing, position of the head, and running away.
Pay attention to the tail, legs (font and back), and the general position of the head and neck.
Consider the noises your horse makes.
Noises that the horse makes can help you decipher the mood of your horse.
Blaine Perkins

1. As a ferrier how do you deal with feared horses?
Happy horses?
Relaxed horses?
Horses sick or in discomfort?
2. What are the traits of a happy horse? Feared horses?
Horses sick or in discomfort?
And relaxed horse?
3. What do you do to understand horses facial emotions and body language?
4. Does working with horses feet effect their emotions? If so how?
5. How do you know all this info, where did you learn it from?
Feared Horses
"I work horses, that won't stand still or won't lift their foot, in tight circles, moving their back end around their front end so the front end does not move. After working them hard they will realize it is easier to stand still" Says Blaine.
wide eyes
flared nostrils
head up
Blaine does not think that horses get angry, that they get more feared or irritated with what a horse or human is doing.
Happy Horses
Blaine does not have to do much to deal with happy horses but to let them know he is thankful for their corroperation he pats them.
perked ears-moving back and forth
eyes calm
head normal hieght

Sick Horses
"When a horse is hurt or ill, I let them lean on me or push them up against a fench so they can lean on the fence. Also I pick their feet up in short sessions, lift up for a bit then put down."
eyes open
quick breathing
irregular heart beat
Relaxed Horse
Blaine says that "horses are not usually realxed while being trimmed they are offten worked up or calm but not relaxed."
head down
ears back-not pinned
eyes closed
Body Language:
leg cocked
tail swishing-not aggressivly
Other Answers:
Blaine has learnt all this information from "years of experiance, asking questions of other people, and watching other people.
To understand horses facial expressions and body language, Blaine, watches the horses and makes sure he knows the different traits of the emotions.
"If fear is an emotion, some horses are scared to have their legs lifted but other then that I don't think it effects their emotions."
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