Horses & Body language & Expressions

Expressions are the way horses tell you about themselves. Whether it be in the eyes, the flair of the nostril or the pinning or pricking of the ears, they are never the same and are always changing.

Expressions are the way horses tell you about themselves. Whether it be in the eyes, the flair of the nostril or the pinning or pricking of the ears, they are never the same and are always changing.

We all give off signs and signals with our bodies. Whether it be in the way we carry ourselves, or the way we talk, or the ‘look’ that we give, we use physical body language to determine a person’s nature, mood or personality. Like humans, horses possess different personalities, moods, emotions and talents. They communicate solely through their body language. You will hear great trainers say that it is the temperament of the horse that makes it great. Old cowboys will tell you it’s in the swirl. A horseman says it’s in their body and a great master will say it’s in their eyes.

Never more than now, has a horse’s body language been so dissected and discussed with the eruption of the popular “natural horsemanship” era. With videos, books, dvds, courses and seminars, the industry has become inundated with an excess of info on equine body language. The fact is, that the horse holds a lot of secrets and truths, if you are able to decipher the way he moves. How you know when he is accepting, how to help him accept when he is not, and more importantly how to reward and recognize it when he is. It is something that comes with time and hours spent with and on your horse. No two horses are the same, but the general nature of the horse remains the same, and the more time you spend with horses, watching them interact with each other, the more you will learn.

This is not to say that body language is not deceiving. I have seen many outwardly “badly” behaved horses be the better riding horse than the seemingly calm and docile ones. I find this is most apparent in performance horses. The ones that get to the highest levels seem to have the quirkiest personalities. I think because to reach such heights, an extra “something,” some sort of edge and additional exuberance is required.

Expressions are the way horses tell you about themselves. Whether it be in the eyes, the flair of the nostril or the pinning or pricking of the ears, they are never the same and are always changing. The first thing I notice about a horse is the look in their eye. It is a one time deal, and first impressions are hardly wrong. I bought a horse a while back that I knew he was not right. But I over looked my initial judgment and went ahead only to regret to find what I saw in the first place. I remember it well, I really liked him, but he had this blank expression in his eye. When reality hit, that blank expression came through in all he did. Ears go back and come forward, go side to side, flop and twitch. In every change they are speaking and telling you something about themselves.

Expression and body language are the tell tail sign of happiness, excitement, love, anger and just about any other emotion. Horses are beautiful and powerful animals and words cannot describe the impact their being has on a person. Spend some time around horses, I guarantee you will feel it.

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