How do Horses Communicate with Humans?
Horses are highly intuitive and pick up on the moods of their humans through voice and expression, it is similar to the way that a dog would communicate with its owner. A recent study has shown that horses will recognize you when they hear your voice, and if they are outdoors they will come when you call them, especially if they are used to getting a treat.
Horses respond more positively to people they have previously seen smiling, and are wary of those who are scowling and unpleasant. They appear to become quite attached to their owners. and can show anxiety when their owner is not around. Like many animals, they appear to like routine and will wait for you at the same time every day tossing their heads impatiently and sometimes nudging you. How do you know when your horse is happy?
- Relaxed nostrils, not flaring.
- Relaxed lip line, soft looking.
- The lower jaw is not taught.
- His ears will also be relaxed and not pricked up.
A horse’s ears are large and mobile and help them to tell when a predator is approaching. They can move their ears in the detection process, and they will also be able to tell when their owner is approaching and if you are bringing food, they will be able to smell it.
Horses are social animals and in the wild would live in large groups. They are able to communicate with one another within their herds.
How to speak to your Horse and what he is Telling you
Horses use body language, and after you have had them for a while you can sometimes understand what they are trying to tell you.
If their ears are pinned back when you are riding them, they are either frightened or angry. If they are angry they may be keen to get home and get you off their back an have a rest. I once had an older horse who used to speed right up on the home stretch, as he knew that he would be fed, and if the ride was too long he became angry.
If a horse has his head raised and ears pricked he is listening to something that we can’t hear. If he starts to shake and bob his head and skitter around he may become aggressive and give you a nip. Sometimes it is hard to work out what has caused the hostility.
When he is stomping and lifting his foot or feet up and down, he is getting impatient and probably wants to be off on a bit of a run, so if you are in the saddle talking to someone, he is telling you to get moving.
An angry horse will open his mouth wide, and if he has the bit between his teeth he will try to dislodge it. He will flare his lip and may snort at the same time. If he shows the whites of his eyes, he is opening them wide and is upset. Sometimes it is because he is frightened, horses hate snakes and slithering things like big lizards, and if they encounter snakes they will show the whites of the eyes and rare up on their hind legs. If he rares up, the muscles on his rump will bunch up and he might kick out, so stay away from the legs. Move him away from danger and speak to him calmly.
If the horse pricks up his tail he is full of energy and is probably looking forward to going out for a run, a young horse needs daily exercise.
How do Horses Communicate with Humans? How do you know if your Horse is unwell?
Loss of appetite can indicate that your horse is unwell, other signs of digestive problems are diarrhea or constipation.
It is important that horses are fed a correct balanced diet of grains and grasses, as certain weeds can cause illness. Also, too many apples at once can cause bloat, gas in the abdomen which can be dangerous to a horse and will require veterinary attention. The horse may become lame, check his hoofs as it may be as simple as a stone wedged in his hoof. If he wears horseshoes take him to have them changed regularly.
If the horse is sweating he may have a fever and will require Veterinary help as he may need antibiotics.
If your horse is healthy, he will live 25-30 years, and it is important that you understand him to keep him in optimal health.
Your horse will feel the cold in winter and if he looks miserable he may be feeling cold. If you don’t have a stable, and it is not necessary in warmer climates, buy a weatherproof horse blanket and put it on him during winter. Take it off in the middle of the day to brush him and allow the air in. A horse should have some shelter from the weather extremes, and an open shed is ideal.
Because the horse is a social animal, it is good for them to have a friend or partner to prevent them from becoming depressed. Two horses together will groom one another and play together. They live in herds in the wild and often become anxious when they are separated. Without companionship,
the horse may become stressed. A horse is able to bond with another animal like a cow or even a pet sheep, however, another horse is the best option for them.
Horses can be separated from their companion for a short while without becoming depressed and anxious, but they don’t do well on their own for long periods of time. The ideal is to have two horses together if possible and to move them to a new paddock every six months while you rest and regrow the pasture. Human company alone is not a substitute for the company of another horse, as we cannot be there all the time, and they need a horse friend.