In the following diagrams I will look at each feature in isolation, but this can be misleading. These comments are therefore just a guideline. You will need to take the whole face and body into consideration. For example, if the ears are facing slightly backwards the horse could be listening to something going on behind him, he is not necessarily upset. There will be a clue in the way that the ears are being held. Notice if they are tense or relaxed and whether they are more down or up.
The tail, too can be a good indicator of a horse’s mood:
Looking at the face, the degree of tension is again important. Increased tension can result in wrinkling around the nose, mouth and eyes.
Of course the face won’t be still, as it is in these diagrams. This can make it difficult to catch each nuance of your horse’s range of expressions in the moment, as they can be subtle and fleeting, therefore a helpful tip is to take photos or videos to review at a later time.
If a horse is fearful, wary or upset you will often see the sclera of the eye, that is the whites of the eyes:
When he is happy and relaxed, however, his eye is soft and deep, and often starts to close drowsily. You can also see here the relaxed position of the ears and the mouth with the lower lip drooping. The nostrils, too, are relaxed and the head is lowered slightly.
The points above are just a rough guide and you will need to spend time observing your horse to be able to interpret his expressions in a variety of settings.
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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