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GETTING INSIDE THE HORSES’ HEAD

Throughout the history, humans have always been coexisting with animals. They basically played part in making up the ecosystem. Both are creatures which are mobile. Without either of the two of the many creatures, there would be an imbalance in our ecosystem. Although humans and animals are two different creatures with their own special and unique abilities, they were able to live harmoniously with each other. This was made possible through their ability to communicate. Surprisingly, as different as they are with each other, they were able to communicate. Using different means of communication, they understood each other. Another fascinating fact about humans and animals living together is they actually complement each other. There are things that humans can do which animals can’t vice versa. This makes their existence inseparable.

getting inside the horse's head

Although they coexist and are inseparable from each other, humans can do more and somehow superior than animals as they are given dominion and authority over them. In connection with this, humans are given the ability to tame and train animals. However, having the ability doesn’t tantamount to being easy. Training, taming and communicating and most especially understanding them is not at all an easy task. However, today, people are enjoying the benefits of having the secrets and the key points in dealing with animals revealed. We are now able to have an access to information on how to deal and handle animals as a result of the accumulated years of trying to understand them.

One animal that is well-loved by people and often trained is the horse. But, of course, it is not an easy endeavor. In the beginning, as any other animal, horses are not easy to understand since like other animals they don’t use verbal language. They are often trained and tamed because aside from the fact that they have been very useful in the past as they have been used as a means of transportation and even in farming, they are also used in people’s hobby and also in sports. Horses are naturally wild but can be domesticated through training. As this is the case, it necessitates people to comprehend horses’ behavior by navigating the horses’ head.

The best way to understand horses’ thoughts is by taking a closer look at their behavior since horses don’t communicate verbally rather they communicate through their postures, movements, and expressions. By doing so, you will improve your understanding and relationship with your horse. Also, for most people who are into horse riding, it is very important to know what horses are trying to express to them.

WHAT ARE INSIDE THE HORSES HEAD?

The movements of each body part of a horse have something to say to humans. This is how they express themselves to fellow animals and to humans.

EARS

horse's ears put forwardIf you are planning to learn horse riding then you must know that the forward and backward direction of the horse’s ears means something. When horses’ ears are put forward, this means it is alert, is paying attention and is interested in what is in front. And when the ears are set backward, this means that it is angry and about to be violent such as biting and kicking.

When the ears are turned to the side, this could mean that it is asleep or it is relaxing. It could also mean that it is not connected or unaware of the surroundings. Similar to humans at times, horses could violently or wildly react to you when you approach them at this state. They might run, whirl or strike you with your gestures towards it. Humans alike don’t want to be disturbed when amidst relaxation. You must wait until the horse’s attention is on you. It may signal that it is aware of your presence by turning its head towards your direction.

This time when the horse’s ears are in a backward direction but not pinned, usually it means that it is listening to something or someone at his back. He may be determined to run away or to turn around and check the sound behind it. However, if the backward direction of the ears is a couple with other movements such as swishing tail, it could be an antecedent of a pinned ear.

In addition, their ears could also indicate anxiety. This is evident when their ears are swinging back and forth. This may also mean that it is trying to find out where the frightening sound or smell is coming from.

HEAD CARRIAGE

Taking a good look at the position and movement of the horse’s head can get you in the thoughts and mood of the horse. There are a number of movement and position that would indicate their mood.

a horse lowering it's headWhen a horse’s head is lowered or dropped, this signifies that it is relaxed and feels good. This lowering of the head could also be coupled with the ears being hung on the side. A horse that is standing in the pasture or in its stall with its head lowered means it is resting or sleeping. So again make sure that you don’t surprise or scare it. While this is the case for a lowered head, an elevated head of a horse means that it is focusing on something in a far distance. It is trying to determine the action it would take in response to what it is seeing. In this condition, the horse’s attention is directed to that something it is seeing and not on you or any other person or thing. Make sure that you get its attention to avoid any harm caused by its movements.

On the other hand, when riding a horse and it raises its head couple with other bodily movements such as hollowing of his back, this may mean that it is in pain. So to alleviate the pain or to avoid having your horse go through that pain, make sure to check all the tacks attached to your horse so as not to cause pain and discomfort. In addition, an aggressive behavior of a horse may be signaled by the slight lowering of the head and side way waving of the neck. This means a red alert. This situation requires you to identify the cause of its aggression and to divert the attention of the horse to you or something else or take the horse to another place.  

FORELEGS

For the front legs’ movements and position, there could be a number of implications it can suggest to us. Front legs which are spread out, it may imply that the horse is scared or suffering from an injury or some health conditions. The movement called pawing can also tell us that it is tired of standing and it wants and is ready to move when it is tied. It can also express stress from the horse.

a horse kicking forward

Also, there are times when a horse does a forceful or powerful pawing and this may imply anger. When it happens, it is usually coupled with pinned ears. But if this happens to a loose horse then, it may be dangerous to you as it may be a precursor of an attack. Also, front legs may tell us that it is irritated or frustrated through forceful raising and lowering of a foot. When these emotions are not addressed, it could give stronger and more forceful signals. Another message we can get from the front legs is the state of aggression and defense from a horse. We can get this message when it is kicking forward using its front legs. It is important to know what this means as this could be dangerous for people to the point that it could kill.

HIND LEGS

a horse coking it's hind legFor horses, their legs are their weapon and shield to situations they deem fit. As mentioned, a forceful movement of the front legs is dangerous. This also goes with the hind legs.

A horse can cock his hind legs when it is relaxing and resting. This can be coupled with a lowered head or ears hanging on the side as they shift their weight from time to time. But, when you see your horse changing its weight rapidly then it might be in pain. Also, cocked hind legs and an elevated head could signal people that it is irritated. It keeps its attention to something or someone that is believed to be a threat by looking at the back of his shoulder.  Another position of the hind legs that means irritation is a raised hind leg.

MUZZLE

Another avenue where horses can tell people that they are resting or sleeping is through their muzzle. This is evident when a standing horse has its lower lip droop. The moment it wakes up its lips return to its normal state. But if it’s still drooping even when awake, then there must be something wrong.

Other things horses tell us through their muzzle would be they are thinking, learning and are relaxed. This is evident when they are acting as if they are chewing something when there is nothing to be chewed. Horses also curl its upper lips and raise its head when they are trying to figure out an unfamiliar smell. In addition, when horses are nervous and frightened, their noses could flare up and shake. For other emotions, horses can tighten their muzzle such as when they are worried, stressed and scared. So, when you see your horse going through this, it would be advisable that you take your horse out of the place or the situation causing him to feel that way. Another message that can be conveyed through the muzzle is anger, pain, and choking. The horse can be angry when it gapes its mouth, pins its ears and eyes surrounded with white. When it is choked, the horse may stand and its neck is stretched and its mouth is gaping.

EYES

Horses can feel various emotions and this can also be shown through the eyes but it is not limited to it. Their eyes could also be the window to that they think.

They can feel stress, fear, and discomfort and it is evident when there is tightening at the corner of the eye. Fear could also be seen when there is sideways flicking of the eyes. In instances when its eyes are surrounded by white, it could be mean that it is upset and when it is coupled with pinned ears then it is angry. And when the white of the eyes are simply showing then the horse is slightly alarmed.

TAIL

The tail is another useful part of a horse to which we can identify what is in the horse’s head.  A raised or flagged tail can indicate excitement. This feeling of excitement may mean that the horse’s attention is not with you. In this case, you must be careful in trying to get back his attention. Also, a pressed down tail may mean it is nervous or stressed. And when this happens during a ride, then the horse might be in pain caused by the tacks attached it but if not, it is best to call a veterinarian. In addition, irritation and anger can also be seen in the tail when it is rapidly swaying.