Reasons Why Horses Nudge

Last Updated on June 11, 2020 by Allison Price

Like humans, horses have different ways of showing affection. Some horses seem nippy, putting their lips or teeth on us. Some may nudge. The nostrils and sense of smell of horses are very sensitive. Horses communicate using their noses. So, what does it mean when your horse nudges you? Animals’ way of communication is way different from human beings. This article will help you get to know your horse better.

Why Do a Horse Nudge You?

Horses nudge for some reason. Horses who usually nudge are those who are used to getting treats. It is their way of reminding you that a treat is desired. They also nudge as a way of getting attention, pets, and scratching. Based on my experience with horses, some rub their heads on you because they are itchy. When they rub, you can tell that they are actually itchy. But it’s not a good thing to let them do it because it might lead to bad habits. If they nudge you in a gentle way, it means they want something. If they only nudge you with their nose or rest their head on you, they generally want a hug or affection.

 Some Ways Horses Show Affection

Do you ever wonder whether your horse actually shows affection? You will be glad to learn that they do. But recognizing affection can be quite hard if you’re not familiar with the signs. We have put these together to help you out.

Come to You

Sometimes, your horse comes to you when you walk out into the pasture. They do most of the time not because they expect food but because they recognize you. It is their one way of showing affection. After eating, if your horse picks up his head to come over to you, they are showing you are important. Horses approaching you without being asked shows that they like your presence. They can also pick up on emotions. Horses know when you are stressed and frustrated around them. They will negatively associate you with those emotions. If you are calm and decisive, they will positively associate you with a happy atmosphere.

Turn Their Heads and Ears Toward You

Horses who respect and pay attention to you watch your every move. You can notice that your horse’s heads and ears are following you all the time. It means that a horse is focused on you. It is a good thing!

Follow You Around

Horses are herd animals. They rarely go anywhere alone without a buddy. If you notice, there are certain horses that your horse hangs out with. They will follow around and stick together most of the time. You can say that your horse thinks of you when you see him follow you around. If he follows you around, he considers you a buddy. It means that he is fond of your presence.

Follow Your Instructions

Horses will be trying to prove that they are the dominant horse because they are herd animals. Horses are the same in some ways with humans. They want to see what they can get away with and in what areas they can be the dominant creature. A horse that has come to terms with you being the leader, they will most likely respect you. Although they want to be dominant, they also want to be led. When they see you as their leader, they won’t question your cues. Instead, they will respond and obey willingly.

Comfortable Around You

Horses that trust you are relaxed around you. The first time you meet them, they tend to be jumpy and aggressive. But after spending time and being patient with them, they will be comfortable with you. Horses are flight animals. They will determine whether you are a threat that they need to flee from. If they are relaxed around you, then they feel safe with you. Some horses are always nervous. The best thing you can do is work on building your bond. Show them that they have nothing to be afraid of.

Can Horses Become Attached to Humans

The answer to this is not straightforward. There are many factors that will contribute to a horse’s attachment to humans. Horses definitely have the ability to form unbreakable bonds with their owner. But it depends on the commitment you have as a rider or owner. The riding, grooming, and general bond that you have is vital in forming a stable bond with any horse. Their attachment to you will be strong if you ride and groom them regularly.

Horses feel jealous and they can be over-protective as well. Adopting a new horse can make them feel jealous. If they feel that you are being threatened, they will act defensively. But it doesn’t mean that if you take on the ownership of a new horse, they will kick up a fuss. The relationship they build with an owner is a personal one. But it is not definitive. Horses are able to build strong feelings with anyone who gives them time.

Signs That Your Horse is Happy

Do you want to know if your horse is happy? The following are signs you can look for to check how your horse is feeling.

  1.  If your horse is happy, his nostrils should be relaxed, soft, and round. They will become tight, thin, and drawn if he is unhappy.
  2.  Your horse’s lip line curls down slightly in a relaxed, soft manner. If he is tense, he will be tight and drawn in this area.
  3. His lower jaw should be loose. Your horse’s lower mouth may hang down and you might also see him dribbling.
  4. The tail will be fairly loose and swinging freely and evenly when he moves.
  5.  Horses looking relaxed while grazing and alert to his environment are usually happy.
  6. Sharing a hay net with a stablemate while they are tied up in the yard is a sign that he is happy.


Horses nudge you for a reason and you can tell by how they nudge you. They are affectionate animals. They want to please you and they enjoy working hard to show you that they care. Like humans, they have feelings. Horses cannot utter words that human beings understand. We can tell how they feel by having knowledge of some of the signs and being sensitive and mindful of them.

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!