Horses are incredibly intelligent animals that have evolved over thousands of years to develop a strong bond with humans. As such, horses have a variety of ways to express their emotions and needs to us, ranging from nudging us with their noses to vocalizing specific noises. One of the most common behaviors horses display towards humans is head rubbing, a gesture of affection and trust.
What Is Head Rubbing?
Head rubbing is one of the most common behaviors horses display towards humans. Horses will rub their heads against their owners, barn mates, and even strangers, as a way to show affection and trust. It is an instinctive behavior that is seen in many horse breeds, from ponies to draft horses. Head rubbing is often accompanied by a soft nicker or whinny, as well as a deep snort or exhale.
Why Do Horses Rub Their Heads on Us?
Head rubbing is a sign of trust and affection for the horse’s human companion. Horses understand that when we rub our hands on their heads, we are providing them with comfort and love. As such, they will often reciprocate this gesture by rubbing their heads on us. This is especially true for horses who have been groomed and handled regularly, as they are more likely to associate us with safety and security.
Head rubbing is also a way for horses to mark their territory. By rubbing their heads on us, they are claiming us as their own and communicating their emotions. This instinctive behavior is an evolutionary trait that has been passed down from generations of equines.
In addition, head rubbing is a way for horses to show their appreciation. They may rub their heads on us when we give them treats, scratches, or other forms of positive reinforcement. This behavior is often seen in horses who have been trained to perform certain tasks, such as jumping or dressage.
What Should You Do When a Horse Rubs Its Head on You?
When a horse rubs its head on you, it is important to respond in a positive way. You should gently rub the horse’s head and neck, and speak to them in a soothing voice. If the horse is feeling particularly affectionate, you can also scratch its muzzle and chin. This will help to strengthen the bond between you and the horse, and will show them that you appreciate their gesture.
However, it is important to be aware of the horse’s body language. If the horse is showing signs of distress, such as head tossing or tail swishing, it is best to take a step back and assess the situation. This behavior may indicate that the horse is feeling uncomfortable or threatened, and it is important to ensure that they feel safe.
Head rubbing is one of the most common behaviors horses display towards humans. This behavior is a sign of trust, affection, and appreciation, and is an instinctive trait that has been passed down from generations of equines. When a horse rubs its head on you, it is important to respond in a positive way and show them that you appreciate their gesture. Being aware of the horse’s body language is also essential, as it can help you understand how the horse is feeling and ensure that they feel safe.