Horses are typically very skittish animals, making it hard to earn their trust and affection. However, once you form this bond with them, they’ll be more willing to do anything to please you, which makes training and riding them much easier.
Trust is one of the most important elements in any human relationship, but it’s especially critical when working with horses.
The better you can establish trust with your horse, the safer and more successful your relationship will be. Here are nine signs that your horse trusts you, as well as advice on how to develop and improve these traits.
9 signs that a horse trusts you
Many people who have horses like to think that their equine friends trust them, but it’s possible that you could have a horse who doesn’t trust you even though you feel like they do.
There are many signs that can indicate whether your horse trusts you or not, and this article will cover nine of the most common ones to help you make the right determination.
1) They let you handle their feet
Horses naturally shy away from humans because they have been prey to us since their domestication.
However, if the horse is comfortable enough with you, it will lower its head and neck to allow for easier handling of its feet. If a horse extends its tongue while grooming or eating, it also means it trusts you.
The trustworthiness can be seen in how closely the horse stands to you when walking side-by-side. The closer a horse stands to another person, the more trustworthy it is considered as well as in how still a horse stands when being mounted by a rider.
If a rider mounts the back of a standing horse without any struggle or protestation on behalf of the animal then this indicates that there’s trust between them.
2) Their ears go up
When a horse’s ears go up, it is a sign of trust. Horses are prey animals and they can’t risk being ambushed by predators when their heads are down.
If a predatory animal tried to sneak up on them from behind, it would be much more difficult for the predator to get close if the horse had its ears up.
The ultimate sign of trust from a horse: closing their eyes: Horses sleep standing up because this position helps them keep an eye out for danger, but if they feel safe enough in their surroundings, horses will often doze off with their eyes closed.
3) They lean into your touch
The first sign that a horse trusts you is when they come up to you and lean into your touch. This can be for grooming, brushing, or petting.
It’s the most common sign of trust in horses. This might seem like a small gesture but it actually takes a lot of courage for them to let you get so close to their face! They take a big risk in showing this kind of vulnerability because they are also at risk if they are bitten or kicked by another animal.
Different breeds have different personalities as well as different levels of wariness. Some will approach with no hesitation while others will only accept contact if there is food involved.
It’s important not to force them too much because once you lose their trust, it may be difficult to regain again.
4) They give over their neck
When a horse gives over their neck to us, it means they trust us with the full weight of their body. This can be difficult for a horse to do, but it’s an amazing feeling when they trust you enough to do it.
Horses will also give over their neck if you approach them from behind and ask them to lower their head.
With time and patience, horses will gradually lower their heads more and more as they get used to trusting you. You’ll know it’s working when they lower their head just slightly or stop pulling away after a few tries
If this is happening, then congratulations! You are making progress towards building trust between yourself and your horse!
5) They walk beside you
One of the most basic indicators of trust is when they walk next to you. Horses are naturally skittish animals and want to avoid anything potentially dangerous.
If they walk next to you, it means they see you as a trusted companion or a potential threat has passed.
They’re less likely to run away from you and more likely to stand still while grooming, brushing or tacking up.
They may also come closer if they know you have something for them in your hands.
6) Their head comes near you at the gate
If a horse comes close to you at the gate, they are trusting of your presence.
Horses are naturally skittish animals but if they come to the gate and get close to it, it’s a sign that they trust you.
They may do this in order to give you their head or neck which they would never do unless they trusted you not to hurt them.
They may also do this in order to move closer to their hay feeder so that they can eat more easily.
7) They make eye contact with you
The first sign a horse trusts you is they make eye contact with you.
Horses are naturally fearful and suspicious of things they don’t know, so if they do make eye contact with you, it means they feel safe in their environment.
They approach you when you’re near them: Another good indicator that a horse trusts you is when they come to greet or follow you.
It’s not always the case, but when they approach even just a little bit, it’s often because they’re curious about what might happen next or maybe they want some attention from you.
8) If they are led well, they will follow behind instead of in front.
If a horse is led well, they will follow behind instead of in front. This shows that the animal trusts their handler and is not scared of being led.
The handler must show confidence and control when leading the animal, which should be done with a loose rein. This will make the animal feel more comfortable and will give them an idea of where they are going.
9) Asking them to cross something close to them
If they are crossing a fence or something they know is close to them, they will take their time and be very careful.
They will cross with their head down and not look at what they are doing.
This is because they are trusting the person to guide them through it. And if they do get stuck, they will back up and try again so that they don’t get hurt.
Once a horse is comfortable with you, he or she will allow themselves to be pet.
When a horse has trust in the person touching them, he or she will allow themselves to be touched without worrying about being bitten by instinct.
Trust is a two way street. If your horse isn’t trusting of you, then it can be hard to earn their trust. Take the time to give them some space and just observe them from afar and figure out what they like and don’t like.
There are many ways that horses show when they feel comfortable with someone and once you know what those are, the more likely it will be for them to feel safe around you. Horses love being petted so if you pet them in spots where they enjoy it,
chances are high that they will allow you closer contact than if you try petting areas on their body which they don’t enjoy.
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