Neighing is one of the classic behaviours associated with a horse. Although horses mostly communicate using body language, they also use a variety of sounds to communicate basic ideas and emotions. In this post, we’ll describe some of the most common ones so that you can start to learn how to speak horse.
It’s not only humans who slowly exhale through their mouth and nostrils. Horses tend to sigh when they’re around humans and for similar reasons to us, like contentment or boredom at being asked to perform repetitive exercises.
Snort or Blow
When a horse pushes air through its nostrils, producing a loud purring noise, it may be excited to hit the trails. Watch out since an eager horse might make sudden movements, and its snorting can make other horses excited.
Snorting can also be a sign that a horse is anxious or about to fight another equine. Of course, a snorting horse may simply be clearing its nostrils or having air forced through its lungs while exercising.
When a horse makes this soft, affectionate noise, it’s probably saying hello or expressing excitement about being fed. Mares also make this sound to summon their foals, and stallions use it as part of their courtship ritual. On the other hand, a horse could nicker out of apprehension at a perceived threat.
Whinny or Neigh
This loud sound can indicate that a horse is anxious, such as if it’s in a new setting or separated from its herdmates. On a similar note, horses neigh or whinny to warn other horses about a new, strange element in their environment.
A neigh or whinny may also come from a confident horse demanding food. Whinnies have 2 frequencies, one that signals whether the emotion is positive or negative and one that indicates the emotion’s strength.
Like humans, a horse may groan to convey reluctance or satisfaction. There are also a couple of occasions when a horse is likely to groan naturally: getting up or down, which forces air from its lungs, and giving birth. However, groaning can also indicate that the horse is in pain, such as from ulcers or a saddle that does not fit right.
A horse may produce this short, high-pitched noise if it’s meeting another horse or angrily telling a horse to leave it alone. Stallions also often squeal when they approach a mare to check whether she’s interested in mating.
This deep, throaty sound is longer and louder than a squeal. Horses sometimes roar when fighting each other. Roaring can also refer to a respiratory disorder in which the horse’s larynx is paralyzed.
Hope that you never hear a horse make this sound since it tends to occur when a horse is dying or at least suffering intensely. A horse may also scream when it’s fighting another horse.
Which of these sounds have you heard a horse make? Let us know in the comments!
Hello, My name is Shelby Gatti, and I am the owner of Shelby Ranch. I love being able to share my passion for animals with you and your family. At Shelby Ranch you can expect a ton of family adventure from horseback riding to mechanical bull riding & axe throwing.