Horse Communication

Horse Communication

What is horse communication? Many people think that horses are silent animals, that they never use horse comunnication and never talk to one another.
But this is not true at all! Horses communicate using horse communication to talk in many different ways! Just because they don’t always use sounds to
talk to one another doesn’t mean that they don’t use horse communication!

This particular page on Learn about Horses is about horse communication.

Sound Communication

Whinny – A rather loud, bugling and free sounding call that is one of the most loved sounds horses make.

Translations – Hi, who’s that? Hey! I’m over here!

Neigh – A sound that is almost like a whinny, just a little bit deeper.

Translations – Hello, can you see me? I can see you!

Nicker – The best and most welcoming horse sound in the world. The nicker is a low, rumbling sound that is made
in the horse’s throat. You might hear this sound when a horse greets another horse – or you! – or at feeding time.

Translations – Hello, I missed you! Mmm, what’s that? It sure smells great! Welcome back, I’m glad to see you!

Snort – A sound that horses make by pushing all the air in their lungs out hard through their nostrils. It sounds
quite a lot like the snort you make when you are objecting to something except it’s a lot louder and more fluttery.

Translations – Oh, watch out! What’s that? I don’t like it! It’s scary! Who’s that guy? He looks suspicious!

Blow – A big exhale, that sounds like your sigh, just louder and a lot deeper.

Translations – Is there anything new going on? Not much is happening. Things aren’t so bad.

Squeal – A high-pitched, ear-piercing scream that is so loud that it can be heard from hundreds of meters away.

Translations – Hey! Stop it! Cut it out! Ouch, that hurt me! I’m warning you, if you don’t stop that then I’m going to really get mad!

Grunts and groans – These sounds are all kind of the same. Grunts and groans are often made if the horse is exercising, being rubbed or massaged.

Translations – Ugg, this is pushing my fitness. Oh, that feels nice! Hmm, that’s good.

Sighs and sniffs – A horse’s sigh sounds just like yours only it’s much louder. A horse’s sniff sounds like the sound you make when you
blow your air out of your nostrils.

Translations – Uh, I’m bored. Mmm, I’m rather tired. Time to hit the sack. Life’s not that bad.

Roar – This sound is a mix between a neigh, whinny and a squeal. It has the deep, hoarse sound of a neigh, the loud, imposing sound
of the whinny and the enraged scream of the squeal. Normally you would only hear this sound coming from a furious stallion.

Translations – Get out of here right now! You are trespassing on my territory! I will attack you if you don’t get lost immediately!

Ear Communication

Flat back ears – When you notice a horse’s ears starting to pin back against it’s head, moving towards the beginning of it’s neck, get ready for anything!
If you’re riding a horse and its ears are back slightly then it’s just listening to your voice, but if it’s ears are pinned back against it skull then it is
getting very angry.

Translations – Ooh, I’m getting mad! You’re making me angry! If you don’t stop what you’re doing I will make you wish you had!

Pricked forward, stiff ears – Ears that are pointed forward and are being held stiffly in place mean that the horse is alert.

Translations – Hey, what’s that? What’s that noise? That’s an unusual sound!

Relaxed, loosely forward ears – When a horses ears are like this they look just like the pricked forward, stiff ears except they don’t have that
alert stiffness.

Translations – What a lovely day! Things are really nice out here, I really like this place.

Uneven ears (One pointing to the front and one pointing to the back) – When a horse’s ears are like that they are just plodding along.

Translations – (Sigh). There’s nothing going on here. Isn’t there any action around this place?

Stiff, twitching ears – If a horse’s ear looks like they do when they’re pricked forwards and stiff except that they are twitch be very careful!
You must watch out when you’re riding a horse and he/she does this. It could mean that it’s getting ready to bolt.

Translations – (Shake). What’s that?! I’m getting anxious! If something scars me now I’m ready to run for the hills!

Airplane ears – When a horse’s ears are hanging on either side of it’s head. This means that it’s bored or tired.

Translations – (Yawn). I’m so tired! Nothing ever happens ‘round here. Boring. Bored.

Droopy ears – When a horse’s ears sag down a droop to it’s sides it means it’s tired and ready to get to bed.

Translations – Mmm . . . I’m awfully tired. I could really do with some warm bran mash and a nice loose box. Time to bed down for the night.

Tail Communication

Tail switches hard and fast – When you see a horse doing this then you know you’ve got a very, very, VERY angry equine on your hands.
Don’t go anywhere near a horse in this state. I’ll strike out and hurt you before you can do anything!

Translations – I have so had it! I will just attack anyone who dares to go near me! I’m so mad now I think I’m gonna explode!

Tail held high – When a horse’s tail is held up high, flying in the air like a big banner then it’s say it is proud and high spirited!

Translations – I am horse and I’m proud of it! Look at me! I’m so stunning! I am the greatest! I am the best!

Clamped-down tail – If a horse’s tail is like this it means it is scared.

Translations – I’m so scared! Please can’t someone help me! What’s going to happen to me?!

Tail swatting against flanks – When a horse does this it’s just getting rid of some annoying thing that decided to land on or touch it.

Translations – Ouch! Oh, good! Got that silly fly!

Make sure you watch your horse’s communication signals! It’ll help you understand how your horse is feeling and will help you to learn more about
these amazing creatures! And remember to watch your horse’s eyes – they talk with their eyes too, just like us!

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