Last Updated on March 8, 2022
Horses are amazing communicators, though as humans, we must learn to read their sometimes subtle indications, so let’s learn signs that a horse trusts you. Every horse owner wants to create a strong bond with their horses. A good bond is based on mutual trust.
Find Out The Signs That A Horse Trusts You
A Horse Trusts Leadership
Horses are herd animals that work together for mutual protection. Within the herd is a hierarchy, with members following the led of the group leader that has earned their trust. The human, horse relationship can take from this natural behavior to develop trust.
Poor leadership can worry the horse and create problems, sometimes this puts the person in a dangerous situation if a horse is severely reacting. Giving your horse clear, firm, but not abusive instructions makes you strong in their eyes.
Always be fair, offer your horse a choice and remember to stay calm. If you are tense or anxious, the horse will read this and think there is a reason to worry and doubt your leadership. When respect is established, the horse’s trust in you will follow.
Studies have proved that horses are experts at reading our facial expressions. As humans, we are improving in this area but still have a long way to go to do it as well as horses. If a horse trusts you, it will show a relaxed facial expression without pinning its ears or showing the whites of its eyes.
When a horse pins its ears, it is giving an obvious warning. It does not want you in its space or is upset about something you’ve done. This is often a sign of mistrust.
Another part of the face to observe for signs of trust is the eyes. If a horse trusts you, the eye will have a soft expression. When the eyes look fearful, angry, or alert, it is a sign the horse does not trust the person or situation.
Finally, look at the horse’s lips for another sign that a horse trusts you. The lips of a trusting horse stay relaxed, even droopy. If you approach a horse and it tightens its lips or even threatens to bite, you can conclude it is not completely trusting.
Body Language Signs That A Horse Trusts You
In addition to their facial expressions, horses give us signs of trust and mistrust with their bodies. These signs are sometimes glaringly obvious or very subtle. If a horse walks right up to you, with a soft, happy, ears forward expression, it is an indication of trust.
A horse that does not trust you might turn its back to you. This is potentially dangerous. If you do not recognize this sign and proceed to the horse without caution, it can escalate.
The resulting escalation can include kicking, aggressive attempts to bite, or panicked movements to get away.
Leg position can tell you two very different things. A horse that trusts you might stand with a leg cocked. In this case, their body is relaxed, likely with a lowered head and floppy ears. However, a cocked leg also indicates mistrust.
A cocked leg in a horse that does not trust you is a warning. This horse will have more body tension. It might also swish its tail, put its ears back, and watch you carefully.
Not seeing this sign of mistrust can lead to the horse kicking, an experience you’d rather avoid! When you see this, do your best to communicate with the horse that you are not a threat in hopes it will relax.
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Allowing You To Touch Them
A horse that is comfortable with your touch is telling you that it trusts you. If the horse allows you to touch them pretty much everywhere, without expressing warnings it is a sign of trust. However, keep in mind some areas are particularly sensitive, such as around the ears, or the inside area of the back legs.
Touching these areas could still cause a reaction or warning. But if the horse is ok with touching the rest of their bodies, it is pretty safe to conclude you have its trust.
Lying Down With You Near
When horses lie down, they are in a vulnerable position. In a herd, there is always a trusted horse that takes watch while the others rest. This horse is ready to alert the sleepers to any danger, so they can get up quickly.
If you approach a horse that is lying down and it doesn’t attempt to get up, is one of the signs that a horse trusts you. Some horses will even allow you to sit with them and have a cuddle.
Horses are amazing creatures that are always teaching us. The more we are willing to listen and understand their communication, the more we can build trusting relationships. Start your trust-building on the ground.
Take your time and remember the calmer you stay, the quicker you will see signs that a horse trusts you.
Please put any questions in the comments below.
Do horses show affection?
Like people, horses all have different ways of expressing affection to each other and their people. Some horses may seem downright naughty, constantly putting their lips, or even their teeth, on us and each other. But if they like to be close to you and are playing with you, touching you or even brushing up against you, then you can be pretty sure they like you. It is important to look for the signs of affection so you know how your horse is feeling and if they are happy and comfortable in your presence or not.
Are horses loyal?
Since domestication, the horse has been bred to be friendly and loyal to humans. It is known that horses are extremely affectionate towards their owners, and loyal to their companions.
However, do they also have a sense of loyalty to their pack mates? In the wild, horses have an established hierarchy among themselves. They are very social animals, and it is known that they have an innate loyalty to their herd members, which often can be used for their own benefit. For instance, when they see one of their herd members (especially foals) in danger, they will attempt to protect them.
It has also been noted that horses have a natural ability to read human emotions and intentions. They seem to understand our emotional state, and respond accordingly.
How do you tell if a horse respects you?
Horses show respect in different ways. One way is called “joining up” and it means the horse is willingly following you around without being attached to a rope.
Another sign of respect in horses is backing up. A respectful horse will back up away from you slightly when you approach without turning his back of you.
He will also respect your personal space and restrain from displaying vices. He will not kick, bite or jump at you.
What does it mean when a horse pushes you with their head?
You should not get upset or defensive if a horse nudges you with their head. It is a natural behavior for horses. It’s how they communicate. When a horse nudges you, they are trying to tell you something. It could be positive or negative. Some horses might be more likely to nudge you than others.
When they nudge you with their head, it may mean different things. They might want to push you out of their way or try to encourage you to give them treats. It can be they just want to be scratched or they are looking for some affection. Sometimes they will nudge you because they are testing your limits and sometimes they might just want to play. They may also nudge you because they are happy, engaged, interested, or even excited by new things. They may be seeking out physical contact, grooming, food, or water.
How do you tell if your horse has bonded with you?
You can tell what your horse thinks of you by watching how they interact with you. If they willingly follow you, then they consider you a friend. If a horse is happy to come over and be petted, it shows they like your company.
It’s important to remain calm and relaxed while working with your horse, since horses can pick up on the emotions of the people around them. The more relaxed you are around your horse, the more positively the horse will view you. If your horse recognizes you as calm and decisive leader, then they will follow your lead and associate you with a positive experience.
Michael Dehaan is a passionate horse owner, horse rider, and lover of all things equine. He has been around horses since he was a child, and has grown to become an expert in the field. He has owned and ridden a variety of horses of different breeds, and has trained many to compete in shows and competitions. He is an experienced horseman, having worked with and competed many horses, including his own. He is an active member of the equestrian community, participating in events and teaching riding lessons.