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Horses and Affection: 5 Surprising Ways They Show Love

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Have you ever noticed your horse gently rub or push against you with its nose when you visit? That’s one way they show affection. Horses are very social and intelligent animals with unique ways of expressing love and care. Let’s look closely and see what else we can learn.

Horses show affection by pushing with their muzzle, paying attention to and following their human companions, exhibiting protective behavior, and licking their lips. Each horse is unique and may show affection differently, but paying attention to your horse’s body language and behaviors can help you understand how it expresses its love and care.

Despite their reputation for being stoic and independent, horses are actually affectionate creatures. Unfortunately, many misconceptions about horse behavior can lead people to underestimate the depth of emotion that horses are capable of. In this blog post, we’ll look closely at five surprising ways horses show love and affection to their human companions.

Picture of a horse showing affection to a young boy.

1. Nuzzling and nosing.

When talking with others, I often lean against one of the horse’s stall gates. It’s not long before I receive a push from behind from my horse as if it is trying to join in on the conversation.

When a horse nudges you with its head or snuffles at your pockets or hair, it’s often a sign of affection or attention-seeking behavior. Horses have a strong sense of smell and use their noses to communicate and explore their surroundings, so don’t be surprised if your horse tries to “say hello” with its nose.

horse.affection.me edited

2. Pays attention to you.

When a horse pays attention to you and follows your instructions, it is a sign of respect and a desire to connect with you. Attentiveness and obedience are often seen as an expression of affection in the horse world.

Many experienced horsemen wait for horses to turn towards them before they begin introducing new lessons. Establishing yourself as a leader with your horse can help to build trust and respect.

When horses pay attention and follow your instructions, it is often a sign that it sees you as a respected leader. And when they are attentive, it signifies that they are interested and want to connect with you, which is an expression of affection.

On the other hand, a horse turning away or ignoring the trainer may be seen as a lack of respect or interest.

Picture of a horse looking at its owner.

3. Following you.

My horse escaped from the barn when my son left his stall door open. As a couple of people tried to catch him, I instructed them to back away and give the horse some space. Once the area was clear, my horse followed me back to the barn.

Some horses show affection by following and staying close to you, especially when you are in their paddock or pasture. This behavior is often seen as a sign of trust and attachment, as the horse chooses to spend time with you and be near you.

4. Licking its lips.

When I interact with a horse for the first time, I want to see them lick its lips and give a big exhale of air. Licking and chewing is a natural behavior for horses and a sign of relaxation and contentment.

If your horse licks its lips while you are interacting with it, it is a sign that it is feeling comfortable and happy in your presence. This behavior is often accompanied by other signs of relaxation, such as a soft, relaxed gaze, lowered head, and easy breathing.

5. Protective behavior

Horses are known for their strong instinct to protect their herd and territory, which can also extend to their human companions. If a horse seems particularly territorial or protective of you, it may be a sign that it sees you as part of its “herd” and is showing affection through its protective behavior.

Here is a good YouTube video about how to build a relationship with horses.

Bonus tip: How to show affection back to your horse

One easy way to show your horse some love is to groom and care for it regularly. Horses enjoy being pampered and appreciated and taking the time to brush and care for your horse’s coat, hooves, and teeth can go a long way in strengthening your bond.

You can also offer your horse treats as a special reward or spend extra time with your horse, going for walks or engaging in fun activities together. Above all, remember to be patient and kind with your horse and to always respect its boundaries and needs.

Picture of me with one of our yearlings.


In conclusion, horses have many unique and endearing ways of expressing their love and affection to their human companions. From nuzzling and nosing to paying attention and following you, these intelligent and social animals have their own language of affection that is worth learning and understanding.

As you continue to build your relationship with your horse, you’ll discover more and more ways that it shows affection and care. These special moments of connection make the bond between horses and humans so unique and meaningful.

So the next time your horse nudges you with its nose or playfully kicks up its heels, take a moment to appreciate the love and affection it’s showing you. These gentle giants have a lot to teach us about the beauty and depth of animal emotions; the bond we share with them is truly a gift.

By paying attention to your horse’s body language and behaviors and showing your affection and care in return, you can strengthen the bond between you and your horse and deepen your connection.

Whether you’re a seasoned horse owner or new to the world of equine companionship, there’s always something new to learn about how horses show affection and communicate with us.


Can horses sense a good person?

Yes, it’s possible that horses sense certain characteristics or traits in people that we might consider “good,” such as kindness, compassion, and a calm and respectful demeanor.

Do horses have feelings for humans?

Yes, there is evidence suggesting that horses form strong bonds and attachments with humans and may experience a range of positive and negative emotions in response to their interactions with us.