Monday, 8 August 2016

How do horses show affection?

Understanding how horses show affection for each other can help us communicate to our horses how important they are.   So how do horses show their friendship?

Mutual grooming is how horses and many other animals display their friendship.  This starts when a foal is first born and its mother licks it for about half an hour.  The mare will then, over the next few days, groom the foal using little nibbles, these clear away loose hair and open clogged pores.  It is unusual for a foal to groom their mother back at this stage.  However, after a week or so foals tend to join in.   As they grow they will often be seen in mutual grooming sessions with another foal and this behaviour continues with friends for the rest of their lives. 

The more friendly two horses are the more often they will groom each other.  They tend to start at the bottom of the mane - a hard to reach spot - and work up.  Some horses will also nibble the neck, shoulders and along the back.  As with the mare and foal this grooming helps to free any matted patches, clear dead skin and remove loose hair.  

These sessions usually only last 3 or 4 minutes but sometimes can be up to 30 minutes long.  Horses groom each other more in the Spring and Summer, which helps remove the winter coat and can also help with itches caused by flies! 

So, to show your horse friendship the best thing you can do is groom them.  Spending time grooming them shows them that you are their friend.  You can imitate a companion nibbling them by using your fingers up the mane, but, if you are doing it well be careful as you may get nibbled back!

Basil and Chesney tend to groom each other quite often and I have also seen Chesney and Tommy grooming in the last few weeks which is great!

Have you seen last week's video 'Lunging Basil ... sort of' on my You Tube channel.   
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Until next time!

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