What do you need to know about the Calming Signals of Horses

Introduction to Horse Body Language

Welcome to this blog article about horse body language! Understanding their cues and signals is crucial for anyone who wants to build a relationship with their horses. One important aspect of horse behavior that every equestrian should be familiar with is calming signals. These subtle gestures tells us about a horse’s emotions and state of mind. In this blog post, we’ll delve into the intriguing realm of calming signals in horses, exploring what they are, why they matter, and how to decipher them effectively.

What are the Calming Signals of Horses?

The calming signals of horses are a crucial aspect of horse body language that every equestrian should understand. These signals are subtle and often overlooked, but they can provide invaluable insights into the horse’s state of mind and emotions.

Horses use calming signals as a way to communicate with each other and with humans. They are non-threatening behaviors that horses exhibit when they feel stressed, anxious, or uncomfortable in their environment. By recognizing these signals, we can better understand what our horses are trying to tell us.

Some common examples of calming signals include yawning, licking and chewing, blinking slowly, shaking off (also known as “shaking off tension”), stretching their necks downwards and sideways, snorting softly through their nostrils, and even walking in circles or pawing.

It is important to understand these calming signals because they can help prevent potential conflicts or accidents while working with horses. When a horse displays these behaviors, it is an indication that something may be bothering them or causing them distress.

To read and interpret calming signals effectively requires observation skills and patience. By paying attention to your horse’s body language during various situations such as grooming sessions, riding exercises or interactions with other horses you will start noticing patterns in their behavior.

By being aware of your horse’s calming signals you can adjust your approach accordingly to ensure the best possible communication between you both.

Examples of Calming Signals of Horses

When it comes to understanding their body language, recognizing calming signals of horses is crucial. These signals are subtle behaviors that horses use to communicate their stress levels and attempt to diffuse potential conflicts. By learning to interpret these signals, you can better understand your horse’s emotions and respond accordingly.

One example of a calming signal is the “licking and chewing” behavior. When a horse licks its lips or chews on the bit, it indicates that the horse is returning from his sympatetic nervous system to the parasympatethic nervous system.The lick and chew occurs because the horse starts to salivate again when he returns to the parasympatethic nervous system. This action often occurs after a tense situation has resolved.

Another common calming signal is “yawning.” Similar to humans, horses yawn when they are trying to release tension and relax their muscles. If you notice your horse yawning frequently, especially during training sessions or high-stress situations, it may be an indication that they need a break.

It’s important to note that each horse might exhibit different calming signals based on their individual personality and experiences. Pay close attention to your own horse’s body language patterns so you can accurately identify their specific cues for calmness.

By being attentive to these subtle signs of relaxation, you can build stronger bonds with your equine companion while also ensuring their well-being during training sessions or any other potentially stressful situations.

Why it is Important to Understand Calming Signals of Horses?

Understanding calming signals in horses is crucial for any horse owner or handler. These signals are an essential part of a horse’s body language and can provide valuable insights into their emotional state and level of comfort. By being able to recognize and interpret these signals, you can better understand your horse’s needs and respond accordingly.

One important reason why it is important to understand calming signals is that it helps foster better communication between you and your horse. Horses use these signals to communicate with each other in the herd, so by understanding them, you can effectively communicate with your horse on a deeper level.

Furthermore, recognizing calming signals can help prevent potential issues or conflicts with your horse. For example, if you notice your horse displaying signs of stress or discomfort through their body language, such as lip licking or yawning, you can address the situation before it escalates into more serious behavioral problems.

Additionally, understanding calming signals allows for safer handling and training practices. When we respect a horse’s need for space or observe when they are feeling overwhelmed through their body language cues like turning away from pressure or freezing up, we can avoid pushing them too far beyond their limits.

In conclusion, gaining knowledge about calming signals is invaluable when working with horses. It enhances communication between human and equines while promoting the well-being of our horses. So next time you spend time with your horse, take a moment to observe their subtle gestures – they may be trying to tell you something!

How to Read and Interpret Calming Signals in Horses

How to Read and Interpret Calming Signals in Horses

Understanding the calming signals of horses is crucial for anyone who interacts with horses. By being able to read and interpret their body language, you can better understand their emotions, needs, and potential stress levels.

One important calming signal to watch for is the lowering of the horse’s head. When a horse lowers its head, it often indicates relaxation and a sense of calmness. This gesture is commonly seen when horses are grazing or resting.

Another common calming signal is licking and chewing. Horses will often lick their lips or chew on the bit as a way to release tension.

Pay attention to your horse’s ears as well. A relaxed horse will have its ears positioned forward or slightly sideways, whereas pinned-back ears may indicate discomfort or fear.

The position of the tail can also provide valuable insight into a horse’s state of mind. A relaxed tail will hang loosely down, while an elevated tail could be a sign of excitement or agitation.

Additionally, keep an eye out for other subtle cues such as yawning, blinking slowly, sighing, or even turning away from something potentially stressful. These small gestures can all indicate that the horse is trying to communicate its need for calmness and comfort.

To accurately interpret these signals, it’s essential to observe your horse in various situations over time. Each individual may have slight variations in their body language expressions; therefore familiarity with your specific horse is key.
By becoming attuned to your horse’s unique calming signals you’ll be better equipped to respond appropriately and create a safe environment for them.

How to Use Calming Signals in Horse Training

Calming signals are not only important for understanding horse behavior, but they can also be incredibly useful in horse training. By recognizing and using these signals effectively, you can create a more positive and harmonious relationship with your horse.

One way to use calming signals in horse training is by observing your horse’s body language during various activities. For example, if your horse starts licking his lips or yawning while being groomed or saddled, it may indicate that he is feeling anxious or stressed. In this case, you can give him a break or adjust the situation to help him feel more comfortable.

Another way to utilize calming signals is through relaxation exercises. These exercises involve teaching your horse specific cues that signal relaxation and calmness. For instance, when asking your horse to stand still, reward him for staying relaxed.

It’s crucial to remember that patience and consistency are key when using calming signals in training. Horses need time to understand and respond appropriately to these cues. By remaining consistent in your approach and giving them the opportunity to learn at their own pace, you’ll build trust and confidence between you and your horse.

Incorporating calming signals into riding sessions is another effective method of training horses. By paying attention to subtle signs of tension such as pinned ears or tail swishing, you can address any discomfort before it escalates into resistance.

Incorporating calming signals into your horse training routine allows you to communicate with your equine companion on a deeper level. It helps establish trust, reduces anxiety levels, and ultimately leads to a happier partnership between rider and horse.


Understanding the calming signals of horses is crucial for anyone working with these animals. By recognizing and interpreting their body language, we can better communicate and build trust with our equine companions.

Horse behavior is complex, but calming signals provide valuable insights into their emotional state. From subtle movements to more obvious gestures, horses use these signals to communicate their feelings of stress or discomfort. By paying attention to these cues, we can respond appropriately and help create a safe and positive environment for our horses.

Using calming signals in horse training can be incredibly effective. By acknowledging when a horse is displaying stress or anxiety, we can adjust our approach and offer reassurance. This not only helps them feel more comfortable but also builds a stronger bond between horse and rider.

Learning about the calming signals of horses opens up a whole new level of understanding in our interactions with them. There is a lot to learn about this topic and if you are interested to dive more about it I really suggest you the book of Rachael Draaisma: Language Signs and Calming Signals of Horses that you can find it here.



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