Horses are wonderful creatures. They are a blessing on this earth for their loyalty and their wonderful minds. Human connections with horses are deep and rewarding for those who are lucky enough to achieve them.
Horses are products of their experiences. If a foal is raised correctly and treated with kindness their minds are open and willing. There is a look in their eyes that is recognizable if this is the case. They look at people with curiosity and a kind eye. Their ears are forward and as they approach people they dip their heads and stand still. What should you do? Well most people want to reach up and touch them on their neck or grab their mane. Do not do this. The horse is appraising you. They use their noses to identify safety. Do not stand in front of them. Stand to the side and offer an open hand extending only a few inches from your body. Do not extend your arm all the way out. Fold your arm at the elbow and open your hand near their mouths so they can sniff you. Standing to the side is safer for you if the horse decides to run away.
How do you determine if its safe to greet a horse? You should do this only if there is no indication they are going to pin their ears back, lift their lips to bite or strike out with a front leg. Snorting is not indicative of friendliness. Move slowly. Once the horse sniffs your hand then speak softly to them. Say hello and then touch their neck. Continue to move confidently and slowly. What is the hurry? Many horses love to be petted or scratched but do it slowly and see if the horse enjoys it. Remember that there are lots of horses in the world that will never enjoy being touched. You can still interact with them by talking to them.
What is the best way to greet a horse that is standing tied or in a stall? Be cautious of horses that are cross-tied. The ties will come from each side of the horse’s head attached to the halter. Many horses have not been properly trained to be cross-tied and resent it. If the horse is inside a stall with his head reaching over the door it will seem inviting to touch their heads. Be aware that many horses have been teased or struck while standing this way. If a horse’s ears are flat back, do not approach them.Walk by and say hello. Stand away and speak to them. Sometimes they will warm up and you can slowly move closer. Watch a horse carefully that has pinned ears. You do not know why this animal is warning you and it is always best to stay safe.
Many novice horse people do not realize that horses are as different as people. They are a collection of their experiences good or bad. If a horse has been mistreated they do not ever forget it. Humans are cruel to horses because they are afraid of them. Sometimes they are just happy to bully helpless creatures. Horses are ignored and neglected in many different ways. The ideal horse will be well trained and their owners keep them for life. The horse that has been victimized often is sold from one place to another. The relationship with humans that is ideal never occurs. Those horses can sometimes not be trusted. There are those from this kind of background that are dangerous.
If you are considering obtaining a horse, pay the extra money for a healthy, well trained horse that is friendly and confident. My horse neighs a greeting when he sees me. He comes up to the fence. I can put my arms around him. He follows me and he makes it clear that I am his favorite person. He ducks his head down so I can put on his halter. He stands still for grooming, for the farrier and for the vet. He is beautifully trained and a joy to own. He comes up behind me and puts his head over my shoulder. He licks my face. He is a real character. I feel honored that we found each other. He is greeted with kisses and hugs. He has been one of my best friends for almost eight years. A reliable horse is a blessing. Learning to greet a horse properly can be your introduction to your own special relationship.