As humans we use a verbal language and often we place so much emphasis on this that we are no longer used to reading visual clues. This is compounded by the fact that much of our communication is done at a distance – by email, text and telephone – and so we are less familiar with reading the facial expressions and body language of others.
Horses, however, largely rely on visual clues in their communication. It is therefore well worth taking the time to observe and become more ‘fluent’ in this language. They use various different body parts and facial features in their communication but if we start by looking at the body as a whole, you can quickly get a basic sense of the horse’s overall mood. If he is alert his head will be up and his neck muscles tense, his tail raised, with his eyes and ears focused in one particular direction. His nostrils will flare as he sniffs intently, and possibly snorts.
In contrast, a relaxed horse will have his head and tail lowered allowing his back to round and stretch. His eyes will be soft and possibly half-closed. His nostrils and lips will be relaxed and often the bottom lip droops slightly. He might also rest one hind foot and then the other.
In the next post, I’ll look in more detail at specific parts of the body.
If you would like to know more about Equine Body Language, or about care for your horse in general, I have created a series of videos which are available through my website: www.equenergy.com or by following this link: If Horses Could Talk video series
Please also feel free to contact me with any questions, comments, or to book a session with me for you and your horse:
mobile: 07980 669303
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