We never really know…


We never really know what’s going on in our horse’s heads but we can make an educated guess.

As you read in last week’s blog, 7% of human communication involves language and therefore 93% does not.

55% of human communication is body language, which means humans do have some experience with using and reading body language, just not as much as horses.

We do our best, using what we know about horses, what we know about our particular horse, and what we see and feel when we are with our horse.

However, it’s not foolproof because we don’t speak the same language. Knowledge and interpretation have a lot to do with what we ‘think’ our horse is telling us.

Here’s a story to illustrate how even the trainers can get it wrong…

I took Jazz and Apollo out from their pasture and put them in a brand-new pasture with fresh grass and new neighbors. I thought, as a human, that they might enjoy the freshly grown grass and meeting new horses. That was my first mistake – thinking like a human.

Well, Apollo said hello to the other horses and started eating the grass right away. He looked very happy and content. He even ran around, kicking and playing and having fun showing off for the mares in the next paddock.

Jazz took a little longer to settle down. He would eat grass and play a bit and seemed to settle down. Then something would get him antsy and he would run the fence line by the gate. I stayed out with him, hoping that this pattern would stop and I kept trying to figure it out.

We were out there for about 2 hours until I just didn’t feel comfortable keeping them out any longer.

Even though Apollo was fine, Jazz just wasn’t 100% comfortable so I decided to take them both back to their original pasture. And I was surprised by what I saw and what was really going on in Jazz’s head.

The second I took them both back to their pasture, Jazz ran over to the water trough and drank like there was no tomorrow. He was thirsty!

Even though the new pasture had a trough of water and I had shown him it was there when we first walked in, he didn’t want to drink from it for some reason.

You know the old saying, “You can take a horse to water, but you can’t make him drink”. This is exactly what happened!

For some reason, Jazz didn’t want to drink from the new trough.

So, here I was trying to calm him down thinking it was the new pasture, or the new mares next door, or, or, or…but,

He was antsy because he was thirsty and it was that simple.

It just goes to show you that you never know. All we can do is give it our best-educated guess and do what we feel is best for our horses. It is always a learning experience to have horses and I know personally, I will continue to be learning until I die and I’m very happy about that.

The good news is that when we make a mistake or get it wrong with our horses, they are very forgiving and patient. That’s how we should be with them too. When they make a mistake or “get it wrong”, we should be patient, forgive them, and love them anyway.

Everyone thinks that something magical happens when you buy a horse. But the real magic is in learning how not to be just a horse owner, but to learn how to be in a partnership and a part of a herd.

A friend of mine told me that if you are going to be partners you have to love who the other person is and see the good in them always.

This was about a human relationship, but it fits horse-human relationships too.

Arguments and bad things are always going to happen, she said, but what’s going to keep you together is learning how to work through the bad stuff, let it go and then move on.

This also works when dealing with your horse.

I like to always stay positive and look at what my horse is doing right and work from there.

What did you understand about what your horse was telling you?

And what did you learn?

I’d love to hear from you, so please write and tell me in the comments below…

Until next week, enjoy your weekend with your horse.

And Happy Horses!



Please Share

  • Deborahlee Wyttenbach says:

    I agree with you as we will never stop learning about horses. They each are individuals just like humans. They are always teaching us if we listen. Thank you for the information you give us.

    • I just love watching and working with horses as often as possible as every time I learn something from them. They are amazing teachers and healers. Thank you for your comments.

  • Andrea Howard says:

    I had the same experience with my horse. He does not particularly like drinking from water troughs, but there is one he won’t drink from at all. It got to the stage where he was really grumpy getting him and tacking him up, but he was just thirsty. This was last summer. I happened to pop him in the stable and realized he was thirsty as he went straight to water. I then put a water bucket in his field and offered him a drink before riding. He was just trying to tell me something. As you can imagine I felt very guilty about not being quicker to notice.

    • This was completely new as I haven’t ever had this issue with Jazz before, in the past 30 years. So it was a surprise and I felt guilty too that I hadn’t figured it out quicker. 🙂 But the good news is that we did figure it out, just like you did, and were able to correct the situation. Thank you for your comment.

  • My horse tells me when she is thirsty or hungry because she stops and looks at me and gets a tired expression, so i give her water. She drinks 3 buckets full. When she is hungry she gets irritable and ears pinny, so i feed her. Then she is happy again. I’m curious if she has insulin problems. Thinking about giving the vet a call.

    • It is always a good idea to call a vet whenever you are curious about a new behavior that could affect your horse’s health. 3 buckets of water at one time seems excessive. But all that depends on the time of the year, the weather, and the exercise regiment. I hope all is well.

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