How do you play with horses?

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By Rachel

Quick Peek:

Want to connect with your horse? Understanding their behavior and communication is key. Horses use body language, verbal communication, and behavior to express their emotions and intentions. Building trust and bonding takes time, patience, and positive reinforcement. Toys and games can keep horses entertained and engaged, but safety precautions and proper equipment are crucial. Play is essential for a horse’s physical and mental health, so incorporate it into their daily routine through trail riding, groundwork, and social play. Remember to always approach horses slowly, establish yourself as the leader, and respect their boundaries.

Understanding Horse Behavior and Communication

Horses are majestic creatures that have been domesticated for centuries. They have unique behaviors and communication styles that are important to understand when interacting with them. In this article, we will explore the basics of horse behavior and communication.

Body Language

Horses communicate through body language. They use their ears, eyes, tail, and body posture to express their emotions and intentions. For example, when a horse’s ears are pointed forward, it means they are alert and paying attention. When their ears are pinned back, it means they are angry or scared.

Similarly, a horse’s eyes can also convey their emotions. When their eyes are wide open, it means they are frightened or excited. When their eyes are half-closed, it means they are relaxed.

A horse’s tail can also give you insight into their mood. When their tail is swishing back and forth, it means they are irritated. When their tail is tucked between their legs, it means they are scared.

Finally, a horse’s body posture can also tell you a lot about their emotions. When a horse is standing tall with their head held high, it means they are confident. When they are standing with their head down and their body tense, it means they are anxious or scared.

Verbal Communication

Horses also communicate verbally through whinnies, nickers, and snorts. A whinny is a high-pitched sound that horses make when they are excited or trying to get someone’s attention. A nicker is a soft, low-pitched sound that horses make to greet each other or their owners. A snort is a loud, forceful exhale that horses make when they are scared or trying to intimidate someone.

Understanding Horse Behavior

Understanding horse behavior is crucial when interacting with them. Horses are prey animals, which means they are always on the lookout for potential danger. They have a flight response, which means they will run away from anything they perceive as a threat.

It’s important to approach horses slowly and calmly, so you don’t startle them. Always approach them from the side, so they can see you coming. When you’re interacting with a horse, pay attention to their body language. If they seem tense or scared, back away and give them some space.

Horses also have a hierarchy within their herd. They establish a pecking order, which determines who is in charge. When you’re interacting with a horse, it’s important to establish yourself as the leader. You can do this by being confident and assertive, but not aggressive.


In conclusion, understanding horse behavior and communication is essential when interacting with them. Horses communicate through body language, verbal communication, and behavior. By paying attention to these cues, you can better understand their emotions and intentions. Remember to approach horses slowly and calmly, establish yourself as the leader, and always respect their boundaries.

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Establishing Trust and Bonding with Your Horse

Understanding Your Horse

The first step in establishing trust and bonding with your horse is understanding their behavior and body language. Horses are incredibly perceptive animals and can sense your emotions and intentions. They also communicate through body language, so it’s essential to learn how to read their cues.

Start by observing your horse when they’re relaxed and calm. Take note of their body posture, facial expressions, and the way they move. This will help you understand what’s normal for your horse, so you can identify any changes in behavior or mood.

Building Trust

Trust is the foundation of any relationship, and it’s no different with horses. Building trust takes time and consistency, but it’s worth the effort. Start by spending time with your horse every day, even if it’s just a few minutes. This will help your horse get used to your presence and start to trust you.

When working with your horse, always be calm and patient. Horses can sense your emotions, so if you’re anxious or nervous, they’ll pick up on that. Speak to your horse in a calm and soothing voice, and use positive reinforcement when they do something right.

Another way to build trust is through grooming. Grooming your horse is not only essential for their health and well-being, but it’s also a great way to bond with them. Take your time when grooming, and use it as an opportunity to connect with your horse.

Creating a Bond

Once you’ve established trust with your horse, it’s time to start creating a bond. This is where the real magic happens, and you start to feel a deep connection with your horse.

One way to create a bond is through groundwork. Groundwork involves working with your horse on the ground, without riding them. This can include lunging, leading, and other exercises that help your horse learn to trust and respect you.

Another way to create a bond is through riding. When riding your horse, focus on building a partnership rather than just giving commands. Listen to your horse and respond to their cues, and they’ll start to trust you even more.


Establishing trust and bonding with your horse is a journey, not a destination. It takes time, patience, and effort, but the rewards are immeasurable. By understanding your horse, building trust, and creating a bond, you’ll develop a deep and meaningful relationship with your equine friend that will last a lifetime.

Choosing the Right Toys and Games for Your Horse

Consider Your Horse’s Personality and Preferences

Just like humans, horses have their own personalities and preferences. Some horses may enjoy playing with balls, while others may prefer to chew on toys. Some may enjoy playing tug-of-war, while others may prefer to run through an obstacle course.

It’s important to observe your horse and understand their likes and dislikes. This will help you choose the right toys and games that will keep them entertained and engaged.

Choose Toys and Games that are Safe and Durable

When choosing toys and games for your horse, it’s important to prioritize their safety. Avoid toys with small parts that can be swallowed, as well as toys that can easily break and cause harm.

Choose toys that are made of durable materials, such as hard plastic or rubber. This will ensure that they can withstand your horse’s playfulness and last for a long time.

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Provide a Variety of Toys and Games

Horses, just like humans, can get bored with the same toys and games over time. To keep them engaged and entertained, it’s important to provide a variety of toys and games.

You can rotate the toys every few days, or introduce new ones periodically. This will keep your horse interested and excited about playtime.

Choose Toys and Games that Promote Exercise and Mental Stimulation

Playing with toys and games can be a great way to promote exercise and mental stimulation for your horse. Choose toys and games that encourage movement, such as balls or obstacle courses.

You can also choose toys that require problem-solving skills, such as puzzles or treat-dispensing toys. This will help stimulate your horse’s mind and keep them mentally engaged.


Playing with your horse can be a fun and rewarding experience for both you and your equine friend. By choosing the right toys and games, you can ensure that your horse stays safe, engaged, and entertained.

Remember to consider your horse’s personality and preferences, choose toys and games that are safe and durable, provide a variety of options, and prioritize exercise and mental stimulation.

With these tips in mind, you can create a fun and enriching playtime experience for your horse.

Safety Precautions and Proper Equipment for Horse Play

Wear Proper Attire

When playing with horses, it is important to wear the proper attire. This includes a helmet, riding boots, and gloves. A helmet will protect your head in case of a fall, and riding boots will prevent your foot from slipping through the stirrup. Gloves will provide a better grip on the reins and prevent blisters.

Use Proper Tack

Using proper tack is crucial when playing with horses. Make sure the saddle and bridle fit the horse properly and are adjusted correctly. A poorly fitting saddle can cause discomfort and pain for the horse, which can lead to dangerous behavior. Additionally, always check the condition of the tack before using it to ensure it is safe to use.

Warm-Up and Cool-Down

Before playing with a horse, it is important to warm-up and stretch. This will help prevent injuries to both you and the horse. Take the time to walk the horse around and stretch its legs before beginning any activities. After playing, cool the horse down by walking it around and stretching its legs again.

Know Your Horse

Every horse has its own personality and quirks. It is important to know your horse and understand its behavior. This will help you anticipate any potential issues and prevent dangerous situations from occurring. Additionally, never approach a horse from behind or startle it from the side.

Stay Alert

When playing with horses, it is important to stay alert and aware of your surroundings. Keep an eye out for any potential hazards, such as uneven ground or obstacles. Additionally, always be aware of the horse’s behavior and mood. If the horse seems agitated or nervous, take a break and try again later.


Playing with horses can be a fun and rewarding experience, but it is important to take safety precautions and use proper equipment. Always wear the proper attire, use proper tack, warm-up and cool-down, know your horse, and stay alert. By following these safety precautions, you can ensure both you and the horse have a safe and enjoyable time playing together.

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Incorporating Play into Your Horse’s Daily Routine

Why Play is Important for Horses

Playing is a natural behavior for horses and is essential for their physical and mental health. Play helps horses to develop coordination, balance, and strength, and it also stimulates their minds and reduces stress. Horses that are deprived of play can become bored and develop negative behaviors such as cribbing, weaving, and stall walking.

Types of Play for Horses

There are many different types of play that horses enjoy, including social play, object play, and locomotor play. Social play involves interactions between horses, such as mutual grooming, playing chase, and playing bite. Object play involves playing with toys or other objects, such as balls, cones, and poles. Locomotor play involves movement and exercise, such as running, jumping, and rolling.

Ways to Incorporate Play into Your Horse’s Daily Routine

1. Play with Toys: Horses love to play with toys, and there are many different types of toys available that can keep them entertained. Balls, cones, and poles are great options for object play, and they can be placed in the pasture or arena for your horse to interact with. You can also try hanging a jolly ball in the stall or using a treat dispenser toy to provide mental stimulation.

2. Trail Riding: Trail riding is a great way to incorporate locomotor play into your horse’s routine. Riding on varied terrain and exploring new areas can be both mentally and physically stimulating for your horse. You can also try incorporating obstacles, such as logs or water crossings, to make the ride more challenging and engaging.

3. Groundwork: Groundwork is an important part of horse training, but it can also be a fun way to play with your horse. Exercises such as lunging, long-lining, and liberty work can help to develop your horse’s coordination and balance while also building a strong bond between you and your horse.

4. Play with Other Horses: Horses are social animals and enjoy interacting with other horses. If possible, try to provide your horse with opportunities to play with other horses in a safe and supervised environment. This can include turnout with a compatible herd, or arranging play dates with other horse owners.


Incorporating play into your horse’s daily routine is an important part of their overall well-being. By providing your horse with opportunities for social play, object play, and locomotor play, you can help to keep them happy, healthy, and engaged. So, grab a ball, hit the trails, or try some groundwork, and have fun playing with your horse!

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