Horses & Body language & Expressions

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.

What Has Horsemanship Become?

I recall a time when not so long ago, there was basically no such thing as “natural horsemanship.” With marketing tycoons such as Pat Parelli the word ‘horsemanship’ has been forever revolutionized. Has good marketing replaced good horsemanship?

Bad Horses- A Rambling of Sorts…

Bad is probably not the best term. Misunderstood probably better fits the bill. Horses are by nature free and pure. Humans are full of problems and stress. Take something pure and free and add a little of our problems and stresses and what do you get? A Bad horse.

The Pawing Horse

Your horse has been standing quietly in the crossties while you are grooming him. It is early in the day and the other horses are being led past your horse for turnout. Your horse usually gets turned out at this time as well, but for whatever reason you decided to come early today. Your horse sees his buddies being turned out and he starts to show signs of worry. His head comes up, be begins to move around in the crossties and then he starts to paw. You ignore it at first, but the pawing becomes so frantic and worsens as the other horses are taken from his view. At this point, you are afraid to get close because he is completely focused on the other horses and has no regard for you or your space.

Horses that “Cast” Themselves

Have you ever walked through the barn, or maybe you just put your horse away in a freshly bedded stall, and suddenly you hear mad thrashing and banging around from the stall? Then when you look in the stall you see your horse flat on his back against the stall wall with his feet up in the air banging and scraping the wall as he tries to right himself to get up but cannot. Your horse has tried to roll and is now “cast” meaning he is stuck and unable to roll back to the side he started from and get his legs underneath him.

Aggressive Horse Behavior- Charging the Stall Bars

Does your horse charge at the bars of his stall with ears pinned and sometimes teeth bared whenever another horse or human passes by or comes too close? When someone enters the stall, he is reluctant and grumpy to be haltered, or have someone clean the stall? Or maybe he simply put his ears back and acts annoyed at your presence?

Young Horses & The First Three

Owning a young horse can be a very rewarding and exciting adventure. It is a chance to start fresh and have a clean slate to bring up and train the way you want. However, like a young child, horses have their own minds and ideas and they are also a product of their environment. It is easy to make impressions on a young horse good or bad, and these impressions can last a lifetime.

What’s in Your Horses’ Swirl?

Swirls come in all shapes and sizes. The most popular being the middle swirl, the one located somewhere between the eyes. Horses who have centrally located swirls, right between the eyes are generally well behaved, level headed horses. Now the higher the swirl, generally the hotter the horse.

The Biting Horse

You are in the barn, minding your own business, and you casually pass by your horse’s stall. Suddenly he snakes his head out over his doorway with his ears pinned flat back. His mouth is open and he viciously makes contact or tries to make contact with your body. Does this sound familiar?