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Learn How To Read Horse Body Language

Learn How To Read Horse Body Language

How to Read Horse Body Language?

Do you ever wonder if your horse is trying to tell you something? People and horses form such strong connections because we are both intelligent, expressive creatures who communicate with verbal and physical cues. Horse body language can be expressed throughout their entire body, which is amazing – so how should we interpret it as horse owners?

Listen Up!

Ears are a very telling part of horse body language. As you may guess, when the ears are pinned back, they are angry or nervous. Do not approach the horse in this state, or you might get a nasty bite or kick.

As you’re training your horse, you may notice that your horse is more likely to listen when their ears are forward and alert – this means that they are interested and engaged in what’s in front of them. This is a good equine communication indicator that your horse is ready to listen.

When your horse is relaxed, you’ll notice that their ears are turned to the side. They may not be paying attention to anything, in particular, so be careful not to startle them. Make yourself known (calmly – no surprise hugs!) to avoid any negative reactions out of fear.

The Tale of Horse Tails

On the opposite end of the ears, lives the tail. Horses use their tails more than to just keep flies away – but it isn’t always easy to read what they’re trying to say. For example, slow, occasional swishing is normal behavior. But if you notice fierce, faster swishing, your horse is probably annoyed. 

If you see their tail tucked tightly against their rear end, they are nervous and afraid. This is a pretty obvious sign that you should check in and think about how to make your horse more comfortable. It is not wise to get too close to them when they are feeling threatened like this. 

When your horse is carrying its tail high, it’s on high alert. This could be accompanied by forward-facing ears – your horse is very interested in something. But do be mindful – some breeds of horses have naturally higher placed tails that may look like they are alert when they are actually relaxing.

Understanding Horse Vocalizations

Horses communicate with their voices, too – just like humans! Keep in mind that every horse communicates differently, but here are a few categories of sounds you may hear while chatting with your equine friend:

Examples of Positive Horse Vocalizations:

  • Nickering (a soft, low sound that comes from the throat)
  • Neighs 
  • Winnies 

You can usually tell when your horse is happy. If they trot over to you, nuzzle you, or follow you, you know that they are content and that they like you (or they just really want that carrot in your hand).

Examples of Negative Horse Vocalizations:

  • Squealing
  • Aggressive Snorting 

When horses feel immediately threatened, you may hear squealing accompanied by thrashing, ears back, and biting. If a horse is unsure but doesn’t feel quite right, they might be snorting and shaking their head. This could happen if they sense that something isn’t right. 

Knowing these cues can help you better understand your horse and form a better connection. Remember to never approach a scared horse, and give them lots of positive feedback when they are friendly towards you. If you have any questions about your horse’s health, contact the team at BRD Vet Rx – we’d love to hear from you.

How to Keep Your Overheated Horse Cool During Summer

How to Keep Your Overheated Horse Cool During Summer

Summer months get hot, and you don’t want to find yourself with an overheated horse. Learning how to see the signs of heat exhaustion and how to treat the symptoms will keep your horse happy and healthy all summer long. 

Signs Of An Overheated Horse

Whether it’s from exercise, lack of shade, or intense summer heat, horses can be negatively affected by heat. Young, old, and ill horses are at the highest risk, so pay special attention to their body language. Some signs that your horse might be overheated include:

  • Rapid breathing

    • It’s normal for rapid breathing after exercising, but if it is post cool-down period, they are probably uncomfortable from heat.
  • Unusually High Temperatures

    • If your horse has a temperature of 102 degrees (F) or higher after cooling down from exercising, call your veterinarian.
  • Dehydration

    • Try gently pinching the skin along your horse’s neck between your fingers. Then, watch closely as you release. If the pinched skin is slow to return back to normal after you let go, your horse is dehydrated.
  • Excessive Sweating

    • Horses cool themselves down in the summer heat by sweating. Factors such as how fit your horse is, age, and more will determine how much your horse sweats, it will differ. If your horse looks like it is sweating more often in a higher volume, your overheated horse needs to be cooled down.
  • Weakness & Disinterest

    • An overheated horse will feel tired and weak. If you notice strange behaviors such as your horse standing while not interacting with the surrounding area, a weak-looking gait, or refusing to eat, start looking into other symptoms.

How To Treat Your Overheated Horse

When it comes to good horse care, setting up a comfortable environment is the first step. Providing a variety of natural and human-made shade options will give your horse a place to rest comfortably during hot summer heat. In addition, making cool water available at all times for your horse will allow them to stay hydrated.

If you can see your overheated horse needs care, first lead them to a shaded area where they are comfortable. Then hose them off with cool water. Make sure it’s not ice cold, this will be shocking and uncomfortable to their system. As you’re covering your horse in cool water, gently scrape off the water as you go. This will take away the hot water that collects on them and allow them to sweat, aiding the cool-down process. 

Not Sure If Your Horse Is Okay?

If your horse doesn’t appear to be getting better after cooling them down and offering cool water in a shaded area for a bit, call your vet to seek professional advice. Explain your horse’s symptoms, what you have done to treat them, and ask for the next step. 

Preparing shaded areas and water are important for your horse’s happiness and health, so make sure to prepare for the hot months in your area. Make sure to keep an eye on how your horse is behaving, and check for signs of overheating if your horse is behaving unusually. Your horse will thank you!