How Horses Communicate

Horse Talk

Horses are usually quiet animals and generally use body language to communicate. However a horse’s vocabulary can let you know how he is feeling too. Your horse uses different sounds to communicate with you, with other horses and to express feelings.

The Neigh and Whinny are very similar sounds and are very loud. The whinny is higher-pitched while the neigh is deeper and louder. With his head held high, this vocalization means he’s looking for other horses or special people.

When the horse’s mouth is closed, he can produce the
Nicker, using the vocal cords. A soft nicker is the sound of a mare calling to her foal in greeting or to reassure the foal. When a horse nickers and moves towards you or another horse, it’s a greeting. Shaking the head and nickering means the horse is looking for a mate.

A horse exhaling through his nose with a closed mouth produces a sound called a Blow. It can mean curiosity or a greeting to another horse. Horses putting noses together and blowing and nuzzling indicates friendship. However if they nip each other or stamp their feet and squeal, they are showing animosity towards each other. If the horse is relaxed and blows at something, it’s a sign of curiousity. If the horse senses danger, he generally tenses and shies away.

A horse Snorts by exhaling theough his nose with a closed mouth. Sometimes the horse will hold his head up while snorting. If the horse stares at something while snorting, he’s checking for danger.

The Squeal sound can mean the horse wants to play or wants everyone to stay away.

The Scream is heard when horses are fighting with each other.

Grunting is a sound made when horses are involved in heavy physical activity.

When your horse greets you with a warm nicker, it gives both of you enjoyment.

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