We all know that we love our horses. We spend thousands of dollars on their well-being, wake up early for turn out, and spend more time around poop than the average person could deal with. It's a lot of work, but we do it because our horses are worth it. But have you ever wondered what's going on in your horse's heart?
Most horses are the strong and silent type. It isn't always easy to know what they're thinking, and it leaves a lot of us wondering whether or not they love us back. Sure, we know that they nuzzle us (which we love!), but that's not the only way horses show their affection. We've made a list of the most common ways horses communicate their love.
Now, let's see if you've mastered the heart of your horse!
You don't have to chase them.
A horse is not naturally trusting by nature, and there is good reason for that. In the wild, horses are hunted by predators. They are naturally guarded prey animals on alert for something that might cause them harm. The fact that a horse lowers their guard for a special person shows that they feel comfortable and unafraid in that person's company.
Coming to you when you head out to the field is a sure sign your horse loves and trusts you. It's even better if you can call your horse's name from the fence and have them gallop to greet you. If it takes hours to catch and bring your horse in, it could be because they associate you with too much work and not enough reward. All horses are different, and some are more trusting than others. If they run away when you're near, work on expressing your love in ways your horse will understand.
Your horse enjoys your company for all the right reasons.
Horses are not one to be affectionate often, because they show their love in different ways. If a horse knows that you have their best interest at heart, prove to be a good leader to them, and you accept them for the way they are, they will in turn enjoy being with you when you are near. And they will not be shy about showing you what your presence means to them.
You can tell your horse looks forward to spending time with you when they voluntarily greet you in the pasture, even if you aren't offering a treat. They'll nicker in excitement and freely interact with you no matter what you're doing. They don't mind the work that comes with riding, because it means they get to spend time with their favorite person.
You can also tell that your horse enjoys your company if they stay calm when you're around. Their mouth and nose should be relaxed, and their ears should be forward.
They lean into and look forward to your touch.
They say that animals have the ability to read people, and horses are no different. Horses have the keen ability to read a person almost instantly. They seem to know whether a person means them harm, and even more impressively, they can tell when we want to make them feel good.
If you only touch your horse while riding, they might not look forward to your attentions. They probably associate your touch with work, and work alone. But if you offer your horse regular pets, pats, scratches, and snuggles, they learn to lean into your affections. You can tell you've mastered your horse's heart when they regularly seek affection and seem especially pleased by your touch.They like touching you as much as you like touching them.
They respect you as their friend and leader.
When you're dealing with a 1,000+ pound animal, respect is a MUST. Horses have the upper hand when it comes to size and strength, and they could easily overpower us if they want to. But if your horse's heart is full of love for you, they'll make the effort to show not only their affection, but also their respect.
Your horse shows their respect when they follow your lead and do what you ask without putting up a fight. They respect your personal space, and while they might fool around on occasion, they know what line to never cross. A light nudge of affection is okay, but pushing you in hopes you'll dispense their dinner faster is a no-no.
They breathe on your face.
It sounds odd, but horses show affection by breathing on each other. In horse language, different members of the herd express feelings of friendship by blowing into each other's nostrils. Mares do it with their foals, stallions do it with mares, and mares do it with other mares they're especially close to.
If your horse ever comes up to you and puts their muzzle near your face, they're probably doing the same thing. Their breath might not smell the best, but the warm feeling of them blowing on your skin is basically the best hug ever. This behavior is always gentle and deliberate. It's a clear sign you have a secure position within your horse's heart.
Horse Courses by Elaine Heney
- Listening to the Horse - The Documentary by Elaine Heney & Grey Pony Films
- Shoulder In & Out Training for better balance, bend & topline development with your horse
- Over 110+ Polework Exercises & Challenges to Download
- Dancing at Liberty & Creating Connection with Your Horse (11 lessons) - Grey Pony Films