How to Approach & Pet a Horse Safely

Last Updated on February 22, 2022 by Allison Price

Horses love attention and are very friendly. Horses love affection and it is important to be able to approach them properly so they don’t become scared.

For your safety, it is essential to learn how to approach horses. You will be able build a strong bond with your horse once you learn how to approach them and allow them to pet you.

How to Greet Horses

It is important to let horses know that you are coming so they don’t get scared. A friendly greeting will allow horses to know you are there by simply saying hello or their name.

Your horse will eventually recognize your voice and be more excited to hear your voice. Some horses may even respond to your excitement by whining or nickering.

How to Approach & Pet a Horse Safely

How to Approach a Horse

When approaching a horse for the first time, let them know that you are coming by with a verbal greeting.

Approach a horse from the front at a slight angle. Horses cannot see straight in front of them so they will see you coming from an angle. You should approach horses from the left side, since this is the side that you lead and mount them on.

Try to make eye contact with the horse so they can see you. It is a good idea for you to reach out to the horse and allow them to sniff your hand. After the horse has had a chance to smell you, you can gently reach out and touch their neck.

Understanding Horse Body Language when Approaching

Relaxed horses will have their ears and head forward when approaching you.

You should be cautious when approaching a horse whose ears are swiveling, their whites are visible and their nostrils flared.

Approaching a nervous horse should be done slowly and calmly. Talk to the horse calmly and refrain from making any sudden movements.

If your horse is still nervous, it might be worth giving them time to calm down before you go back to them.

You can be more assertive when approaching a horse that you are familiar with. To make them feel like you are the boss, stand tall with your shoulders back. Be sure to not appear threatening.

How to approach a horse in its stable

Be sure to inform horses that you have arrived at their stall before approaching them. After you have opened the stall doors, wait until the horse sees you.

Avoid approaching a horse from behind as it can cause them to kick. Before approaching a horse, let them come to the front of your stall so they can see you.

How to Care for a Horse

Before you can pet a horse, make sure they are aware that you are there. Don’t try to sneak up on them or pet them without their permission.

Horses love to be stroked, rubbed, and scratched. They especially enjoy rubbing their necks and withers with a ratchet.

Do Horses Love to Be Petted?

When approaching a horse, it is best to touch their neck. Horses are more sensitive to their heads than other animals and will not like to be petted there.

Horses should be pampered in the neck, shoulders, and withers. These areas are a favorite spot for horses to be stroked and scratched.

Horses love to be petted on their chests and backs. Just make sure you start at the front and move to the back to let the horse know that you are there.

Some horses love to be petted on their ears, faces, and muzzles, while others don’t. It all depends on each horse.

How to Care for Horses’ Faces

It’s best to not pet horses on their faces. Horses don’t like being petted too close to their eyes.

Horses love to have their ears scratched and others like to have their foreheads rubbed. Be gentle when you are handling horses’ faces. They are more sensitive than other parts of the body.

Places to not keep a horse

Horses don’t like being petted on their stomachs, legs, or close to their tails. Horses may be reluctant to have their faces petted, depending on how they are treated.

Be sure to check with the owner before you pet a horse. You might find certain areas that the horse doesn’t like being petted or they may not be interested in having pets at all.

Signs that a horse doesn’t want to be approached or petted

Horses are generally friendly, but they can be difficult to please. Horses can be just like humans and have tempers. They may not be happy with being touched or allowed to be alone.

It is important to be aware of signs horses may not want you to come near them for safety reasons.

A horse’s ears are a sign you should be alert for. A horse’s ears should be pinned to the neck. This is a sign that a horse is upset.

Another sign is body tension in horses, and if the horse is swishing its tail. A relaxed horse will display body tension and a relaxed posture. A horse that swishes its tail can be a sign it is unhappy.

Always be careful when approaching a horse, especially if it is agitated or uncertain. Ask for advice from an expert on horses and stroke them in a safe setting.

Never approach horses that you don’t know, especially if they are foals or in open fields. Mares can be extremely protective of foals so make sure you are careful and don’t cause any damage.

Do Horses Like Kisses or Not?

It all depends on each horse’s preference. While some horses enjoy a good kiss from their owners, others don’t.

Kisses are a great way to show your horse that you care about them. Horses who are content to be pet on their neck and shoulders would probably not enjoy a kiss on their nose.

Allison Price
Allison Price

I’m Allison, born and raised in San Diego California, the earliest memory I have with horses was at my grandfather’s farm. I used to sit at the stable as a kid and hang out with my Papa while he was training the horses. When I was invited to watch a horse riding competition, I got so fascinated with riding!