Does Horses Show Affection?

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Horses, known for their social and affectionate nature, may not use words to express their love, but they convey their feelings through actions. The ways in which horses demonstrate affection can vary, so here's a guide to recognizing signs of your horse's love.

Determining Your Horse's Affection

A heartwarming experience with horses is when you approach the barn, and upon hearing your voice, your horse responds with an enthusiastic whinny or nicker. Another clear indication of your horse's fondness is when they eagerly trot over to you from the pasture upon your arrival. These gestures are common displays of excitement and affection from horses.

When horses are in the presence of someone they trust and cherish, they exhibit relaxation. This is evident through lowered heart and breathing rates, a relaxed posture where one hind foot crosses over the other and rests on the ground, soft and sleepy eyes, a relaxed muzzle, a lowered head, and a droopy muzzle. In these moments, horses are truly at ease.

In addition to these behaviors, horses can actively show their affection when you groom them. They may reciprocate by "grooming" you in return, nibbling at your shoulders or head, resting their head on your shoulders, or giving you a gentle nudge, resembling a miniature back massage.

Respect is another way horses express their liking for someone. They'll accept you as their leader, obey your commands, and not invade your personal space. At times, they may even follow you around. Some horses blow air through their nostrils towards you as a sign of love, similar to how they interact with other horses.

The love horses have for us stems from their trust in us, which is developed through quality time spent together. This can involve riding, groundwork exercises, grooming, or simply letting them graze in the pasture.

Affection Among Horses

Horses also display affection toward their herd mates and other horses. They engage in their version of a "horse handshake" by lifting their heads and blowing gently through their nostrils into each other's faces. Grooming is another common display of affection, where they scratch each other's backs, shoulders, and withers or rest their muzzles on each other's backs. Just as they call out to you, they call and whinny for their fellow equines.

In herds, horses often sleep next to each other not only for warmth and protection but also out of affection. During trail rides, they tend to buddy up, though this can occasionally cause complications when one buddy isn't participating that day. Horses may engage in playful pursuits like chasing each other around the paddock, akin to a game of tag.

Affection for Other Animal Species

Horses extend their interest to smaller animal companions, often reaching out to sniff and greet resident barn cats or curiously investigating friendly dogs. They also enjoy the company of wildlife, with small barn birds perching on their backs or necks while they rest in their stalls. Additionally, horses share their pastures with creatures like deer or moose.

However, caution is advised when encountering unfriendly animals like raccoons, bats, foxes, or possums, as they can carry diseases such as EPM or rabies. Vaccination is strongly recommended to protect horses from potential diseases transmitted through encounters with wildlife.

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