Horse Behavior

Horse behavior refers to the basic behavior of a horse as a prey animal with a well-developed fight-or-flight instinct. Their first basic response to a threat is to escape, though some instances where flight is untenable, horses are known to stand their ground and defend for themselves.

1,774 Questions

What are some common indications that your horse is bored in its stall?

Since this is a question posed on the computer game Howrse, the answer would be "all of these."

In real life, though, a bored horse in a stall is a recipe for stall vices. Pacing, stomping, weaving, pawing, cribbing, wind sucking, teeth grinding, box walking, wall-kicking, self-mutilation, head-bobbing, are all nasty little habits that once started can be very difficult to stop. They can effect the health of the horse and can cause damage to the stall. A horse can also become aggressive, charging at a stall wall just to see if it can go through it, or biting out at other horses and its handlers.

Why do horses ears prick up when running?

The way the horses ears are depends on its mood. They might be a little nervous or cautious.

What happens if you put two studs together?

It depends on the stallions/studs, the largeness of the meadow, and the other horses in the meadow. Two stallions can get along just as well as mares, but of course they can fight over breeding status, over a stud pile, or because one had a fit or got in the way or the pecking order has been challenged by either one of them. When a mare comes into season (into "heat" or estrus), all horses can smell it, to the point where it may bring other mares into heat as well, but this is unlikely. Two studs/stallions will fight over who breeds to the mare, and it may get so serious that one gets killed.

Stallions mark their territory by pooping in places, and these droppings are called "stud piles." One may smell it and cover it up with his feces or find the stud who dropped the pile and fight.

Also, the two males may fight because just they don't like each other or can never get along.

But often if you just throw two stallions together that have never met, you can be assured that there will be a fight, no matter what it's about.

What are three physical signs of a mare is oestrus?

She will cock her tail to side or swish it violently to the side, urinate small amounts frequently and squeal; usually at the same time.


What do you give a nervous horse to calm them down?

You need to establish your leadership over them by moving their feet forwards, backwards, left and right. Do not try to hold them still. This makes them feel trapped, as if they cannot run away from the danger, and scares them more. Instead, just direct their energy in another way. Yield their hindquarters/ forequarters, do some lunging for respect (if you don't know what that is, just ask another question because I cant go into it now), back them up, side pass them, and whatever else you can do. A leader horse can move a lesser horse around like this. So, when you move them around, they view you as their leader, and when they look to their leader (you) and see that you are calm, they will realize that you are calm, and since you are the leader and you are calm, they will think that there is nothing to be afraid of.

Also, maybe not when they are scared, but at another time, find whatever noisy thing you can, and desensitize your horse to it. Trash bags tied to the end of a whip, bull whips, guns (you can get ones that shoot blanks), trash can lids, anything that would scare a horse. Then find a round pen, and holding the rope tightly, swing the whip with the trash bag (or whatever else you are using) and make a good bit of noise. and don't go easy on it either, flap that thing around until the horse holds still, and then immediately take it away. Get closer and repeat. Do it on both sides until you can get right up on the horse and make the noise without him flinching. After about a dozen or so things that you desensitize the horse to, he will learn that only standing still makes it go away, not running off. So this will help with a spooky horse too.

Are horses afraid of mice?

It depends on the horse's temperment, skittish horses may be afraid but calmer ones usually are not. So, yes, they can be, but not all horses are. They may not be really afraid of the mice, just startled because mice move quickly. Added I raised/trained/bred MANY Arabians which many consider to be the "highest strung" breed. I NEVER once saw any of my horses frightened by a mouse, rat or snake. They can be startled by a quick unexpected movement, but they are no more frightened of a mouse than a curious cat would be.

What is a Hanoverian temperament like?

The Hanoverian is described as having a stable, kind, but energetic personality. However it should be kept in mind that all horses no matter what breed they are have individual personalities that do not always fall within the breed description. European Warmblood breeds are known for their gentleness , but many also describe them as 'slow minded'.

What learned behavior does a horse have?

Well it could learn to expect food like any other conditioned animal, but for horses specifically, learned behaviour could be like trotting or cantering on request via a whistle or shout.

Where do horses sleep?

In a barn, or shed. If they are kept outside without shelter or are wild. They tend to sleep during the middle of daylight hours and grouped together with always one watching for danger. Either under trees or somewhere shaded by the sun.

Are horses with big ears more honest?

I wish is were that easy. No. But you can tell a lot about a horse by his eyes. There are certain breeds that tend to be a little less honest, more likely to 'cheat' you. Nothing against the breed but I have been cheated more than once by Appaloosas. They are not all like that. But I haven't had much luck with them.

` There are some tricks used to find a horses personality through their body, though I've never heard of ears. A horse can only be judged individually, let's not take this "big ear" thing seriously. I've met many horses, lots of ear sizes who were all trustworthy and dependable. My favorite, ironically to the answer above, Appaloosas! `

What is the difference between direct reining and neck reining?

Neck reining is when you hold the reins with one hand and you pull the reins on the side of the neck you want to go. Direct reining is when you pull the rein of the side you want to go. You actually pull the horses head in the direction you want to go.

What to do when horse rares up?

I'm guessing you meant 'rearing' ? if you are riding lean forward and talk to the horse calmly! dont scream as this could make it bolt. Try to make the horse walk on. DO NOT tell the horse off! it was proberly scared of something. If the horse does this repeatedly I would suggest getting its teeth, back and saddle checked. Also check your riding as you could be the one making it rear!

If you are leading the horse get out of the way!! try to keep hold of the lead rope but not to hurt youself! Walk the horse on confidently and praise him! Again the horse may of been scared of something of his back may hurt. :)

Blue's Answer:

I agree to this but you need to make sure the horse knows its okay and relax if your riding. Also if you don't take charge of the horse right away the horse might start rearing everytime you get on. You really need to take charge and if the horse tries it again don't let him, make him turn in a circle. Hope this helps!


Why do horses run with their tails up?

There are a couple of reasons for a horse to hold his tail up at the run. In a herd, the raised tail at the run (may include blowing or snorting) can be a warning to fellow herd members that danger may be near.

Many horses when feeling frisky and 'full of themselves' prance and/or run with the tail up. This is a typical behaviour of Arabians and most of them do this in one degree or another.

What does it mean when a horse is 'fresh'?

Usually means a horse is hyper and playful and feeling good. So they will probably have a lot of energy and might want to buck and run.

How far can a horse travel in 3 days?

In the wild, horses travel 15-20 miles a day. These horses are super fit though because they are always on the move, unlike the cushy lives our horses spend. So, unless you train your horse in endurance and have built up his stamina, then lets estimate he can go 10-15 miles a day. Times 3 equals about 30-45 miles in 3 days. Endurance horses can go 100 miles in 10-12 hours, so if your horse is super fit, he could go 100 miles a day (he would be too tired to go all 24 hours, so we'll say 100 miles a day) so 300 miles in 3 days.

However, you have to calulate the fact that horses don't travel on a straight line, they have to eat and drink, and they are herd animals. They won't venture too far from some form of another animal to keep it company.

These are just how far your horse could go, not how far he would go.

What is a broadmare?

A broodmare is a mare used for producing foals. Broodmares should be the 'best of the best' in their breed. They should have very correct conformation, good temperaments, and proven performance ability before they are allowed / approved for breeding.

How do horses care for their young?

Answer In the wild, horses live in herds. There are bachelor groups of stallions that are young or old or timid, and do not have any mares of their own. They have little contact with foals.

Then there are herds made up of a stallion and the harem of mares he has collected. He will take good care of his mares, grooming them even when they are not in season. When their foals are born, the stallion is generally welcoming towards them, provided he knows they are his. However, a stallion may kill another stallion's foal. Most mares are fairly good mothers. For at least a month before they give birth their udders start to fill with milk. By the time a foal is born, the mare already has plenty of milk for it. When it is born, she will lick away the blood and membranes and help the foal stand up. There have been many accounts of predators finding a mare in labour and attempting to kill the foal as soon as it is born. In this case the mare will stand with her foal between her legs and attack the predators by kicking and biting.

Foals are born with very long legs, and within a few hours of birth the newborn can run almost as fast as its mother. After this time, horses prefer to run instead of fighting and at the first sign of danger, the mare will flee with her foal at foot. Mares will feed their foals on milk until they are around six months old. By this time, a wild mare will be quite heavily pregnant, as most mares become pregnant again within six weeks of foaling. In captivity, the foals are often weaned at this point so that they can be sold or begin training. In the wild, fillies will often remain with the mother's herd. When colt foals reach about two years of age the stallion will drive them away; they must now join a batchelor group or attempt to accumulate some mares.

How do you get a horse to stop?

This question is actually more difficult to answer than it might at first seem to be.

It depends somewhat on your skill level and the horse's level and type of training. At the most basic level, you stop a horse by sitting deep into the saddle, pulling back on the reins, and saying, "whoa." This is what beginning riders are taught to do on basic pet or trail horses.

Horses trained for competition are very different.

Horses trained to ride "on contact," like jumpers, may actually go faster when you pull on the reins and slow down when you loosen or release contact.

Hunters will collect and slow when you shift from "two point" or "half seat" into "three point."

Dressage horses, such as Lipizzaners, need you to squeeze with your legs as you pull on the reins. The relative strength of the drive from the legs and the gathering from the reins, along with the balance and seat of the rider determine whether the combination of legs and reins causes the horse to slow, shorten or lengthen stride, speed up, or do "airs" such as the passage or piaff.

Cutting horses will do a sliding stop if you press on their withers.


If a horse won't stop but is not out of control, ie you can still steer, put him in a circle and slowly make it smaller and smaller. He'll reach a point when he can no longer run and will have to slow down.

When a horse is out of control, the rider may be able to execute an emergency stop by using a "pulley rein." To do this plant one hand firmly on the crest (top edge) of the neck, and with the other hand pull back hard with the rein above the planted hand so that the horse's mouth is driven into his own neck toward the planted hand. By planting the hand and pulling against it, you create a mechanical advantage that is difficult for the horse to over come.

Other Contributors have said:
  • You gently pull back on the reins and shift your weight to the back of the saddle.
  • How do you stop a horse? If you mean while you're riding and the horse runs away with you, sit back and saw the reins back and forth while pulling on them. If you can, turn the horse in a circle until it slows and stops. If you mean stop it while you're leading it and the horse is dragging you along, use a chain lead (a nylon or leather lead with about a foot of chain at the clip end) and pull the chain over the horse's nose and through the other side of the halter. Hope that helps.
  • A verbal command, often used in conjunction with other aids (reins, legs, and seat/balance) is "whoa." It is said slowly, in a deep tone.
  • Depending how green a horse is you can use a verbal command which is usually Holt, or whoa. You can use your hand aid by pulling back the reins then releasing. You can also slightly force your weight to the back of the saddle
  • First to get a horse to stop it depends if you are on the horse or driving or if it is running at you. If it running after you you wave your arms and yell halt. If you are driving a horse you need to say "come halt" and then pull on the reins. If you are riding a horse you need to pull on the tugs.
  • I always pull back quite hard but on my favorite pony called Thomas. I raise the nearest rein to the side while gently pulling the other rein. It really works.
  • Well this is the way I learned it. Take a deep breath. When you are about 80 percent out of breath you pull gently on your reins and you close your thigh muscles and relax and your horse will stop.
  • Push your feet down in the stirrups, lean back slightly, and pull back on the reigns. Often, a vocal command such as "whoa" is useful. If a horse is running away with you, turn it in circles that gradually grow smaller. Eventually it won't be able to turn any more and it will stop. If your horse doesn't know how to jump fences, you could move it towards a fence that is too tall for it to jump.
  • Also, pull the horses reins back and say (name) stop. When you want to go again, say (name) walk on.
  • That depends on the type of horse. In general you just
  1. Sit back in the saddle
  2. Push your heels down
  3. Pull the reins back
  4. Say "Whoa"
  • There is only one what to really stop a horse. It's just jump off. It's a short landing. You might break a bone but it's better than dying.
  • To train a horse to stop, you should exhale and sink into the saddle, say "whoa" and lightly pull back on the reins. Hold this until the horse stops. If he shows no sign of stopping anytime soon, tighten the reins a little bit, until he stops, or slows down. You reward him if he slows down because that is a small step to stopping. You have to slow down to stop, don't you?

What sound does a horse make?

A neigh.
The sound of a horse is neigh, pronounced: nay.

How can i get my horse to stop biting?

Try this first. Say NO! loudly when he bites , then turn your back and ignore him. If he just wants attention, he may get the hint. If this doesn't work, talk to your Vet. Some may recommend a type of muzzle when being handled. Keep him tied or in a separate stall if he is biting other animals.

Horses need more than just a firm "NO!", and a little muzzle will not fix the problem, just hide it. Biting needs to be corrected, not fixed. When your horse comes around to bite you, "bite" him back. Biting is a sign of dominance, and if you allow him to, he thinks he is the dominant one. A dominant horse does not just say "NO!", he bites back. So, when your horse goes to bite you, pop him with the back of your hand, as hard as you can. Don't be afraid to hurt him. Horses are a lot tougher than we give them for. Then, as a further measure, go ahead and push him around some. Move his feet forwards, backwards left and right. That is what dominant horses are able to do- push the less dominant horse around. Eventually, your horse will realize you are the leader in this herd of two and stop biting for the most part. Just keep in mind that horses do test their leaders once in a while to make sure they are still good enough to be the leader, so always expect the unexpected, especially around this horse.

There are a few other reasons horses bite though. These include: Boredom, discomfort, confinement and lack of exercise. So, you could also try checking for anything that could be making him uncomfortable and give him more turnout. Often it is a combination of acting dominant, boredom, discomfort, confinement and/or lack of exercise.

And just a little post note: part of the first answer is correct. Some horses do bite for attention. However, just a NO! will not fix it. A pop on the nose and then ignoring the horse will maybe work, but I've had better success with being dominant rather than just ignoring him.

Are there any Unusual reproductive behavior in horses?

Yes it is called being in heat.your horse will start acting hyper or uneasy when it passes a horse of the opposite gender.if you breed your horse it will usually(not alway)come out of also may grow out of it.they are usually in heat around 3-6 years old.hope this helps.

Are horses mainly fearful or aggressive by nature?

Horses all have different personalities, and can be aggressive towards or fearful of different things at any given time. Often, aggression stems from fear, and this is usually linked to a bad experience in the past. So, depending on the horse, some may be more fearful than others, just like humans. Some things that they can be fearful of include noisy/loud things or things in motion (plastic bags, cars). A mare can be quite aggressive around her foal and may make moves towards you if you get too close to the foal. Also horses in a semi wild state - by learned behavior of associating food with people, (by being feed or scavenging for food) can act in an aggressive manner if they are not given food, that they can smell. Beware picnics around semi wild horses! Horses are mainly fearful by nature. They are prey animals, and are always on the lookout for danger.

------- Horses are herd animals, most of their reactions are mirrors to the head of the heard, often their person. I would think mostly fearful! horses are mostly lovely creatures!!
Most horses are fearful by nature as they are prey animals, but an Alpha horse and those vying for herd leader can be aggressive with other horses and with their handlers.