One of the greatest joys of horseback riding is developing a relationship and bond with your horse outdoors.
You love your horse and you would not trade them for the world. And maybe you are wondering if your horse likes and loves you back. What you may not probably know is that horses show their affection in small and big ways often ignored!
Horses have different personalities, and depending on these personalities, they may show their love differently. In this article, we will dive into the small and big signs that show your horse loves and trusts you as much as you do to them.
Keep an eye on body language
Since most people rely on verbal communication, they may think that a horse’s vocalizations are his only way of showing his affection. However, according to Jennifer Williams, PhD through her book, “How to Read Your Horse’s Body Language,” horses tend to communicate through their gestures, postures, and expressions.
Your ability to spot these signs will help you strengthen your bond with your horse. Here are key body parts you should keep an eye to: ears, tail, and head.
Your horse’s ear movements can give you an idea of his overall mood. When your horse has its ears pinned back, it can only mean a few of these things:
- Your horse is alert or focusing on something that is in front of him. It can be a sign that your horse is engaged.
- Your horse is asleep and relaxed.
- Your horse is listening to a sound that is coming behind them. It can also be a warning sign. When accompanied by swishing tail and body tension, it can mean that they are feeling uneasy.
- Likewise, it can also be a sign of anxiety. Your horse may be overwhelmed with noises.
- When your horse drops its head, it means he is relaxed with you. Usually, the ears will hang to the side, it can only mean they are sleeping.
- If your horse raises their head while being ridden, they may be in pain. You may need to go down and check on them to see what is hurting them.
- When a horse lowers their head and tilts it from side to side, it can be an aggressive gesture. A stallion may do this to warn other males. If you see your horse do this, you may help them remove the threat.
A horse mainly uses its tail to communicate their emotions. Tails should not be a cause of concern. However, the only alarming thing about it is when a horse has a “clamped down” tail or a tail that is swishing so quickly. Both tail movements are signs of anger, pain, or distress.
They greet you
When a horse likes your company, they will greet you or even come out to welcome you when they sense your presence. They may run up to you or wait for you to arrive at their stall door.
They are whiny
Horses show their affection when they constantly nicker and if they are whiny around people they are familiar with. They usually vocalize through nickers and whines to get the attention of people or even other horses.
When your horse nickers when they sense you coming, they are excited to see you. It is a form of greeting so make sure to show that you are just as ecstatic as them!
They lay their head on you
Just like us humans, we rest our heads on the shoulders of the people we find comfort in. The same goes to horses—when a horse rests their head on you, it means they trust you. It also shows that they are comfortable around you.
It’s a way of bonding and showing their affection to you. Think of it as a warm hug from your best friend!
They can relax and be playful when you are around
Another sign of affection is when your horse can relax with your presence. Because they trust you, it means they can relieve its hind leg or hand its lower lip. Other signs include when your horse has their eyes half closed or when they take deep breaths.
Another sign is when they are playful around you. It may show when they nudge their heads onto you or try to get your attention through pawing at the ground. These are clear signs of a happy, healthy horse.
They groom you back
Horses like it when they are groomed, and when you notice they are grooming you back, it means that your horse sees you as a trusted friend. This happens when your horse nibbles on your head or shoulder.
Grooming is a common habit among horses. Not only does it feel great to them, but it is also a way to show affection towards one another.
They breathe on your face
The ultimate sign of trust and love is when your horse can comfortably breathe or blow on your face.