A few weeks ago I wrote a blog about horses tail signals, but they also use other parts of their bodies to communicate and understanding about these is another great way to understand our horses!
A horse's neck is strong and powerful which means that they can move their heads in many different directions. This in turn means that they can use their head and neck to tell their herd and us how they are feeling.
When flies are buzzing around and irritating them horses will shake their neck to prevent them landing. A vigorous head shake usually has the desired effect!
Sometimes they will toss the head in the air or jerk the head backwards to again disturb the flies. However, a horse will also use these head and neck movements to communicate their irritation with a companion. This head shaking is often seen if a horse is unhappy in its bridle!
The more severe head snaking is a side to side wobble that stallions exhibit when rounding up their mares!
When a horse twists its nose from side to side (the head wobble) they are saying 'I am ready for action' and indicates that they are keen to get going.
Thrusting the head forward and 'nose nudging' are assertive actions. The nudge is more of a reminder 'Don't forget me' but the head thrust can be quite an aggressive movement in a similar way to biting! Chesney definitely uses the 'nose nudge' when he thinks it is treat time! Bear in mind that a horse may also nudge you if they are in pain!
A horse will swing its head away from something it wishes to avoid. They use this quick twist of the neck to tell their companion that they find something distasteful - which could be physical contact or that they are coming too close.
If a horse has his neck low and relaxed it will mean that he too is relaxed, if he holds it high and tense he will be telling you that there is something that needs his full attention - and this could be frightening. This is a clue to be on your guard as his flight reaction could be next!
Look out for more blogs about how horses communicate.
Have you seen last week's video 'How to get ready for your first pony' on my You Tube channel.
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Until next time!