One of the most satisfying elements of owning a horse is knowing it is happy and healthy. But how do you really know if your horse is happy? Well, here at Prime Stables we have been working with horses for many years and we know that, despite their individual characteristics, horses tend to exhibit some common behaviours and expressions to communicate that they are happy.
Relaxed Physical Appearance
Your horse’s physical appearance is a common signifier as to the happiness levels of your horse. One of the most obvious signs your horse is happy is when his nostrils are relaxed. Horses that are unhappy often have tense nostrils that appear very thin. If his nostrils are relaxed, it is a sign your horse is happy and content.
Another sign of happiness is a relaxed tail. If the tail is constantly moving back and forwards, it may signify that your horse is stressed. If, however, his tail is placid and does not appear tense, your horse is very content.
When your horse is happy, his whole physical appearance will seem relatively relaxed. From his nostrils, tail and ears (which will be forward and alert), to his jaw, a relaxed physical appearance signifies that your horse is happy and content.
Take Note of Physical Behaviour
The physical behaviours of your horse are an effective communication method your horse will use to signify how he is feeling. Horses often enjoy grazing around the pasture, taking their time and wandering around greeting the other horses. Whereas, unhappy horses tend to exhibit restless patterns of physical behaviour such as galloping around the field and digging at the ground.
As a horse owner, it is always important to regularly watch how your horse interacts with other horses in its pasture. If your horses are happy grooming one another and generally getting along well, they are happy. Grooming is a habit horses exhibit when they want to bond effectively with others. However, if your horses are unhappy they will likely exhibit feelings of aggression towards each other. If this happens, you may need to separate the horses into adjoining fields. For more information, read our article on How to Introduce a New Horse to a Herd.
Physical Contact with Your Horse
If your horse regularly reaches out to touch you with his muzzle, it is likely you are used to his interactions and know unusual behaviours when you see them. Often, if a horse reaches out to touch you with his muzzle, he could be curious and checking you out, trying to nip or bite you, asking for affection or looking for reassurance. The more time you spend with your horse, the more you will come to understand his behaviour. Learning the body language of your horse takes time but it is a worthwhile investment as it will help to develop and deepen your relationship with him. A great way to bond with your horse is through grooming. Check out my article covering Everything You Need to Know About Grooming Your Horse. One day the enviable rider who is ‘one with their horse’ might be you.
In general, it is safe to say that a happy horse is a confident horse. A confident horse is comfortable in his surroundings, has a regular routine he can rely on and is healthy. Confidence isn’t just seen in your horse, it can also be felt in the difference of his attitude while riding or training. A happy horse will be confident that he is safe in your hands when trying new things and will push himself to help you achieve your goals. Your horse’s confidence is something that will develop overtime, but it is a telling sign he is happy.
Contact Prime Stables Today
Of course, every horse is different and what makes one horse happy may not be the same for the next. However, pretty much anyone can tell a happy horse – even while riding. I hope the signs of a happy horse in this article have been helpful and will allow you to measure your horse’s happiness as best as you can. If you have any questions or would like more information, please feel free to call Prime Stables today. Our staff would be more than happy to help.
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