What do Horses do When they are Excited? – Comprehensive Guide

Horse behavior is complex and diverse, with each individual having its own unique personality and temperament. Understanding a horse’s behavior is essential to building a strong bond and maintaining a healthy relationship with the animal.

Horses communicate through various body movements, vocalizations, and expressions, which provide valuable insights into their emotions, needs, and preferences.

So, What do Horses do When they are Excited?

When horses are excited, they may exhibit playful behaviors, such as running, bucking, or tossing their heads. They might also show anticipation for positive experiences like treats or grooming, and engage in social interactions with other horses or humans. Managing excitement is crucial for a horse’s well-being and safety.

Importance of understanding horse body language and emotions

Being able to recognize and interpret horse body language and emotions is crucial for anyone involved in horse care, training, or riding. By understanding these signals, owners, riders, and trainers can ensure the horse’s well-being, provide appropriate care and training, and prevent potential problems or misunderstandings.

Additionally, interpreting a horse’s emotions and reactions allows for better communication, fostering a deeper connection and trust between the horse and its human counterparts.

Signs of Excitement in Horses

What do Horses do When they are Excited

Rearing or pawing

One of the ways horses express excitement is through rearing or pawing. Rearing occurs when a horse lifts its front legs off the ground and stands on its hind legs, often accompanied by a whinny or snort.

This behavior can be a result of excess energy or overstimulation and should be handled with caution to avoid injury to both the handler and the horse.

Pawing, on the other hand, involves a horse scraping its front hoof against the ground repeatedly. This action can indicate eagerness, impatience, or anticipation, such as when a horse is waiting to be fed or longing to be released from a confined space.

It is essential to recognize these behaviors and address the underlying causes to prevent any unwanted consequences or negative habits from developing.

Licking and chewing

Licking and chewing are other signs that a horse may be excited or experiencing a change in their emotional state. This behavior often occurs when a horse is processing new information, adjusting to a new environment, or coming down from a period of stress or tension.

When a horse licks and chews, it is usually a signal that they are becoming more relaxed and comfortable in their current situation. Understanding this behavior and its context can help horse owners and handlers better interpret their horse’s emotional state and ensure they are providing an environment that meets their horse’s needs.


Although yawning is often associated with relaxation or drowsiness in horses, it can also occur when a horse is excited or experiencing a change in their emotional state. Yawning may serve as a displacement activity to release tension or stress or as a means of communicating with other horses or humans.

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By observing when and how frequently a horse yawns, horse owners and handlers can gain insights into their horse’s emotional state, and make adjustments to their care and management to ensure the horse’s well-being.


Snorting is another sign that a horse may be excited. It is a natural behavior in which the horse forcefully exhales through the nostrils, producing a distinctive sound. Snorting can serve as a means of communication between horses, alerting others to potential threats or changes in the environment, or expressing excitement and anticipation.

By paying attention to a horse’s snorting, owners and handlers can better understand their horse’s emotions and respond accordingly to ensure a positive and safe experience for both the horse and themselves.

Mutual grooming

Mutual grooming is a social behavior often exhibited by horses when they are excited or content. It involves two horses standing side by side, gently nipping, licking, or rubbing their heads and necks against each other.

This behavior not only helps keep their coats clean and free of parasites, but it also strengthens social bonds and serves as a form of communication and interaction.

When horses engage in mutual grooming, it is an indication that they are feeling comfortable and excited in each other’s company, displaying a positive aspect of their social lives.

Soft, round, and relaxed nostrils

When a horse is excited or happy, its nostrils will appear soft, round, and relaxed, with even breathing on both sides. This is a sign that the horse is feeling comfortable and at ease in its environment or situation.

Observing your horse’s nostrils can provide valuable insight into its emotional state and help you understand how it reacts to various stimuli, allowing you to respond accordingly and maintain a positive relationship with your horse.

Tail swinging freely and evenly

When a horse is excited or content, its tail will swing freely, evenly, and loosely. This is a sign that the horse is relaxed and enjoying itself.

Paying attention to your horse’s tail movement can offer valuable information about its emotional state, allowing you to adjust your approach or interactions to ensure your horse remains comfortable and happy.

Positive Expressions of Excitement

What do Horses do When they are Excited

Playful behavior

Horses, like many animals, engage in playful behavior when they are excited. This can be observed in various forms, such as running, bucking, or even playfully nipping at other horses or objects.

Playful behavior is an essential aspect of a horse’s mental and physical well-being, as it allows them to release excess energy, explore their environment, and bond with other horses or humans.

Recognizing and encouraging playfulness in horses can contribute to their overall happiness and foster a strong relationship between the horse and its handler or owner.

Anticipation of positive experiences, such as treats or grooming

When horses are excited about an upcoming positive experience, they may show signs of anticipation. For example, a horse may become more animated and attentive when it knows that it is about to receive a treat, a grooming session, or a favorite activity.

In these cases, the horse’s excitement is an expression of pleasure and eagerness for the positive event. Understanding and responding to these signs of excitement can help create a stronger bond between the horse and the handler and enhance the horse’s overall well-being.

Excitement during social interactions with other horses or humans

Horses are social animals and often show excitement during interactions with other horses or humans. This can be observed through various body language cues, such as snorting, tail swishing, or even rearing and pawing.

These signs of excitement can indicate that the horse is enjoying the interaction and is eager to engage with others. It is essential for handlers and owners to recognize these signals and respond appropriately to foster positive relationships and ensure the horse’s comfort and happiness.

Encouraging socialization and positive interactions can also contribute to a horse’s overall mental and emotional well-being.

Managing Excitement in Horses

Recognizing signs of over-excitement or stress

While excitement can be a positive expression of a horse’s emotions, it is crucial to recognize when excitement turns into over-excitement or stress. Over-excitement can manifest in behaviors such as excessive rearing, bucking, or bolting, which can be dangerous for both the horse and the handler.

In addition, stress can lead to adverse health effects and behavioral issues if not addressed promptly. Identifying the signs of over-excitement or stress is the first step in managing these emotions, ensuring the safety and well-being of the horse and those around it.

Appropriate training and handling techniques

Proper training and handling techniques are essential in managing excitement in horses. This includes using consistent, positive reinforcement methods to teach the horse to respond calmly to various stimuli and situations.

Handlers should also be aware of their body language and energy, as horses are highly sensitive to the emotions and actions of the people around them.

By maintaining a calm and confident demeanor, handlers can encourage a similar response in the horse, helping to manage excitement and prevent it from escalating into potentially dangerous situations.

Ensuring a safe and controlled environment

Creating a safe and controlled environment is another crucial factor in managing excitement in horses. This involves providing adequate space for the horse to move and play, as well as minimizing potential stressors, such as loud noises or overcrowding.

A secure and comfortable living environment will help the horse feel at ease, reducing the likelihood of over-excitement or stress. Additionally, when introducing new experiences or activities, it is essential to do so gradually and with care, ensuring the horse has time to adjust and adapt to the new situation.


Understanding and managing excitement in horses is crucial for their overall well-being and safety. By recognizing the signs of excitement and over-excitement, employing appropriate training and handling techniques, and providing a safe and controlled environment, handlers and owners can help their horses express excitement in a healthy and positive way.

Fostering a strong relationship with the horse and ensuring its emotional and physical needs are met will contribute to a happy, well-adjusted equine companion.

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