Equine Body Language – Easy Things To Spot And What They Mean

Sometimes it’s easy to understand what your horse wants: from the way they sidle up to you for a treat to the happy trot as they’re let out for their morning walk. Other times it can be confusing to try and figure out what your horse’s body language is saying. Here are three answers to the most common horse behaviour questions.

Why Does My Horse Like Rolling?

If you’ve ever seen your horse, drop down and start rolling around you may be curious about whether they really needed a back scratch, or if they’re being bitten by something you can’t see. While that may be the case, in reality, there are four main reasons why your equine partner has decided to drop and roll.

  • Grooming: Your horse may be trying to get rid of pesky insects or wish to dry off sweat that’s making it itch in the grass or dirt. The dirt that layers on them also becomes a deterrent for biting insects. Most large mammals instinctively know to use a dirt bath to prevent mosquitoes or flies from attacking their skin.
  • Taking a break: A horse may drop and roll when they’re tired out and are wanting a short rest.
  • It’s in pain: Horses often roll when they’re feeling their body is out of alignment or they have pain somewhere in their body. Rolling around on the ground helps to relieve the discomfort and stretches out their spine.
  • Rolling is fun: Getting down in the dirt and wiggling is a past-time loved by most animal species – and horses are no different. Often, they’ll drop and roll simply because it’s fun for them to do.

Apart from the above, rolling is a good way to judge how your horse is doing. A weak roll doesn’t bode well, while a strong roll shows they’re in peak condition.

Is My Horse Smiling?

If you’ve ever caught your horse grinning at you, you’re not seeing things. Horses are able to do complex facial expressions and when happy, are able to smile. Some people have even taught their horses to smile on command.

A spontaneous smile, like one you’d break into after claiming Canadian mega casino bonuses, is different. It often means that the horse is displaying satisfaction and a deep happiness at whatever activity is occurring. If you haven’t seen it yet, it’s a bit different to a primate smile. Horse smiles are done with half-closed eyes, stretched out upper lips and ears reaching back in a line. This may be accompanied by a neck tilt as well.

Are They Unhappy?

While it’s great to know the positive body language of horses, they’re also not shy in showing when something is dissatisfying to them.  When being groomed, look out for wide open eyes, raised necks and pursed lips, as this is a clear sign, they’re not enjoying the brushing style being given. Another sign of dissatisfaction is a heavy swishing of their tail and yanking of the reins from their rider when on a ride.

Recognising these body language tips will help you to better cater to your equine friend and ensure a long and happy relationship.