How to tell if a horse is happy

If you’re interested in learning how to accurately tell whether or not a horse is happy and content, simply continue reading in order to discover a few simple yet effective ways to check if your horse is happy or not. As a horse’s body language and actions will tell you whether it’s happy or is feeling anxious, stressed or sad.

How to tell if a horse is happy

  • Check the shape of its nostrils:

A happy horse will have nostrils which are soft, round and relaxed. Whereas a horse which is feeling agitated will have nostrils which appear tight and thin.

  • Check its jawline:

In general a happy horse’s lower jaw will be loose. In fact, it’s not uncommon to see a happy horse drooling when it feels safe and well taken care of. So there’s no need to immediately worry if you see your horse drooling.

Notice the way that your horse’s tail is hanging:

Usually a happy horse’s tail will be fairly loose and will swing slightly when it walks. Whereas a horse whose tail is stiff is far more likely to be agitated, angry or scared.

Pay attention the sound it makes when you’re riding it:

If you want to know if your horse is happy when you’re out for a ride together, pay particular attention to the sound it makes. As an example, if the horse which you’re riding breathes out through its nostrils and makes a soft, snorting sound, it is expressing its happy, content mood. As this sound is made when a horse’s diaphragm is relaxed.

  • Check its stable:

If a horse’s bedding looks neat and tidy, it’s highly likely that your horse is happy and calm. As stressed out or anxious horses have a tendency to pace around their stables in order to try and calm themselves down.

  • Keep track of your horse’s droppings:

If your horse has a regular bowel system, it’s highly likely that your horse is content. As horses which are unhappy or stressed often have trouble passing bowel movements. Also pay attention to the size of your horses droppings as a happy horse will produce regular sized droppings.

  • Pay attention to its interaction with other horses:

If you’re curious about how your horse feels about another horse such as a stablemate pay particular attention to how it interacts with its companion. If your horse starts grooming another horse, it’s showing you that it feels comfortable around the other horse. As horses groom each other as a bonding act and a display of trust. If your horse initiates play with other horses, it’s definitely feeling happy.

  • Observe how it behaves while its grazing:

Generally if your horse is happy while it’s grazing it will look visibly relaxed, even if its ear occasionally prick up due to different noises, sights or smells. If you see your horse running along the fence of their grazing field, your horse is definitely feeling happy and confident.

  • Pay attention if your horse keeps alternating between standing and lying down:

Horses who are experiencing discomfort often alternate between standing up and lying down. In order to try and decrease the pain which they’re experiencing. So if you notice your horse lying down and then standing up, multiple times in a short space of time you may want to book an appointment with your local vet.

  • Notice if your horse’s eyes are closed:

It’s common for horses who are incredibly relaxed to close their eyes as a form of deep relaxation. Remember that horses which feel anxious or scared will keep their eyes open in order to remain alert to possible threats. So a horse whose eyes are closed is visibly relaxed and happy.

  • Check whether or not your horse wants to interact with you or other horses:

Typically unhappy horses will be reluctant to interact with others and will try to stand apart from other horses. Whereas a horse which exhibits playful traits or comes up to you of its own accord is more likely to be happy. Especially if its ears point towards you.

So if you were looking for helpful cues which can help you identify your horse’s mood and whether or not they’re feeling happy and well cared for, pay careful attention to all of the cues which are listed above.