What makes a horse angry?

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By Rachel

Quick Peek:

Hey there, horse lovers! Did you know that horses communicate with us through body language? By paying attention to their ear position, tail, facial expressions, and posture, we can understand their mood and behavior. But sometimes, horses can become angry and aggressive due to pain, fear, or other triggers. To prevent this, proper training and handling are essential, as well as providing adequate care and management. And if your horse does become angry, stay calm, identify the trigger, and use gentle touch and distractions to calm them down. Remember, horses are emotional creatures that require care and attention to thrive.

Understanding a Horse’s Body Language

As a horse enthusiast, you know that horses communicate with us in ways other than just vocalizations. One of the most important ways they communicate is through their body language. Understanding a horse’s body language can help you better connect with your horse and keep both you and your horse safe. In this article, we’ll explore some of the key body language signals that horses use to communicate.

First and foremost, it’s important to understand that horses are prey animals. This means that they are constantly on the lookout for potential threats in their environment. As a result, they are highly attuned to body language, both their own and that of other animals. By learning to read your horse’s body language, you can gain valuable insights into how they are feeling and what they are thinking.

One of the most obvious signals that a horse is feeling anxious or stressed is when they hold their head up high. This is a sign that they are alert and on high alert for potential threats. They may also flare their nostrils and widen their eyes in an attempt to take in as much information as possible. If you notice these signs in your horse, it’s important to remain calm and reassuring, as any sudden movements or loud noises could startle them further.

Another important signal to look out for is a horse’s ear position. When a horse’s ears are pricked forward, it usually means that they are interested in something. However, if their ears are pinned back against their head, it’s a sign that they are feeling threatened or angry. This is often accompanied by a tense body posture, with the horse standing with their legs stiff and their head held high.

In addition to their ears, a horse’s tail can also be a valuable indicator of their mood. When a horse is feeling relaxed and content, their tail will usually hang down loosely. However, if they are feeling anxious or agitated, their tail may be held stiffly or even tucked tightly between their legs. Similarly, a horse that is feeling angry or aggressive may hold their tail high and stiff, as if preparing to strike.

It’s also important to pay attention to a horse’s facial expressions. Just like humans, horses can convey a wide range of emotions through their facial expressions. For example, a horse that is feeling relaxed and content may have a soft, relaxed expression with their eyes half-closed. On the other hand, a horse that is feeling angry or fearful may have a tense, wrinkled expression with their eyes wide open.

Finally, it’s important to remember that horses are social animals that rely on body language to communicate with one another. When interacting with your horse, try to mimic their body language as much as possible. This will help to build trust and rapport between you and your horse, and will make it easier for them to understand what you are trying to communicate.

In conclusion, understanding a horse’s body language is an essential skill for any horse enthusiast. By learning to read your horse’s body language, you can gain valuable insights into their mood and behavior, and build a stronger bond with your horse. Remember to remain calm and patient when interacting with your horse, and always be aware of your own body language as well. With practice and patience, you can become an expert at reading your horse’s body language and communicating with them effectively.

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Common Triggers for Horse Anger

Pain and Discomfort

One of the most common reasons for a horse to become angry is pain or discomfort. Horses can’t tell us when they are in pain, so it’s up to us as their caretakers to recognize the signs. A horse that is experiencing pain or discomfort may become agitated, restless, and even aggressive.

If you notice any of these signs in your horse, it’s important to have them checked by a veterinarian. They can help you identify the source of the pain and provide appropriate treatment.

Fear and Anxiety

Horses are prey animals, which means they are wired to be on high alert for potential danger. This instinct can sometimes cause them to become fearful and anxious, which can lead to anger.

If your horse is in a situation that they perceive as dangerous, they may become agitated and try to flee or fight. It’s important to recognize these signs and remove your horse from the situation before they become too worked up.


Horses have sensitive nervous systems, and they can become overstimulated easily. This can happen when they are exposed to loud noises, bright lights, or other intense stimuli.

When a horse becomes overstimulated, they may become restless and agitated. It’s important to remove them from the overstimulating environment and allow them to calm down before continuing any training or riding.

Unfamiliar People or Objects

Horses are creatures of habit, and they can become uncomfortable around unfamiliar people or objects. This can cause them to become defensive and even aggressive.

If you are introducing your horse to new people or objects, it’s important to do so gradually and in a controlled environment. This will help your horse feel more comfortable and less likely to become angry.

Training and Riding Issues

Finally, training and riding issues can also be a common trigger for horse anger. If a horse is being asked to do something that they find difficult or uncomfortable, they may become frustrated and angry.

It’s important to work with your horse and a qualified trainer to address any training or riding issues. This will help your horse feel more confident and comfortable, which can reduce the likelihood of anger.


In conclusion, there are many common triggers for horse anger. Pain and discomfort, fear and anxiety, overstimulation, unfamiliar people or objects, and training and riding issues can all cause a horse to become angry and agitated. As horse enthusiasts, it’s our responsibility to recognize these triggers and take steps to prevent them from occurring. By doing so, we can help our horses feel safe, comfortable, and happy.

The Importance of Proper Training and Handling


Training is essential for any horse, regardless of their age or experience. Proper training can help horses learn new skills and behaviors, as well as reinforce good habits. However, training should always be done in a safe and positive manner. Horses that are trained using force or punishment are more likely to become angry or fearful.

When training a horse, it’s important to start with the basics. Horses should learn to lead, stand still, and respond to basic commands such as “walk,” “trot,” and “whoa.” As horses progress in their training, they can learn more advanced skills such as jumping or dressage.

Training should always be done in a consistent and structured manner. Horses thrive on routine and predictability, so it’s important to establish a regular training schedule. This can help horses feel more secure and confident, which can reduce the likelihood of anger or anxiety.


Proper handling is just as important as training when it comes to preventing anger in horses. Horses are prey animals, which means they are naturally fearful of anything that could be perceived as a threat. Handling a horse in a rough or unpredictable manner can trigger their fear response, which can lead to anger or aggression.

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When handling a horse, it’s important to approach them calmly and confidently. Horses can sense our emotions, so if we are anxious or nervous, they are more likely to become anxious or nervous as well. By approaching a horse with a calm and confident demeanor, we can help them feel more relaxed and at ease.

It’s also important to be aware of a horse’s body language. Horses communicate through their body language, and they will often give us warning signs if they are feeling anxious or uncomfortable. Signs such as pinned ears, a swishing tail, or a raised head can all indicate that a horse is feeling stressed or upset. By recognizing these warning signs, we can adjust our handling approach to help the horse feel more comfortable.

The Benefits of Proper Training and Handling

Proper training and handling can have a number of benefits for both horses and their handlers. For horses, good training and handling can help them feel more confident and secure, which can reduce the likelihood of anger or anxiety. It can also help horses develop good habits and behaviors, which can make them safer and more enjoyable to ride or work with.

For handlers, proper training and handling can help us build a stronger bond with our horses. When we approach horses with kindness and respect, they are more likely to trust and respect us in return. This can create a positive feedback loop, where both the horse and handler feel more confident and secure in their relationship.


In conclusion, proper training and handling are essential for preventing anger in horses. By approaching horses with kindness, respect, and consistency, we can help them feel more confident and secure. This can reduce the likelihood of anger or anxiety, and create a stronger bond between horse and handler. So if you want to keep your equine friend happy and healthy, make sure to prioritize proper training and handling!

How to Calm an Angry Horse

What Makes a Horse Angry?

Before we dive into how to calm an angry horse, let’s first understand what can make a horse angry. Horses can become angry due to a variety of reasons, including pain, fear, frustration, or even boredom. Some common triggers for horse anger include:

  • Unfamiliar surroundings or objects
  • Poor riding or handling techniques
  • Physical discomfort or pain
  • Loud or sudden noises
  • Other horses or animals

Understanding what can make a horse angry is the first step in preventing and addressing horse anger.

Tips on How to Calm an Angry Horse

1. Stay Calm

The first and most important tip in calming an angry horse is to stay calm yourself. Horses can sense our emotions, and if we are anxious or nervous, it can make the situation worse. Take a deep breath, relax your body, and speak in a soothing tone to your horse.

2. Identify the Trigger

Once you are calm, try to identify what triggered your horse’s anger. Was it a loud noise? A sudden movement? A painful saddle? By identifying the trigger, you can address the root cause of the anger and prevent it from happening again in the future.

3. Give Your Horse Space

If your horse is angry, it’s important to give them space. Do not approach them too quickly or forcefully. Instead, stand a safe distance away and observe their behavior. If your horse is in a stall or confined area, give them some time to calm down before attempting to approach them.

4. Use Gentle Touch

When approaching your horse, use gentle touch to calm them down. Stroke their neck or shoulder in a soothing manner. This can help to relax their muscles and ease their tension.

5. Use Distractions

Sometimes, distracting your horse can be an effective way to calm them down. Offer them a treat or a toy to play with. This can redirect their attention and help them to relax.

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6. Use Calming Supplements

If your horse is prone to anger or anxiety, you may want to consider using calming supplements. These supplements can help to reduce stress and promote relaxation. However, it’s important to consult with your veterinarian before giving your horse any supplements.


In conclusion, horses can become angry for a variety of reasons, but by staying calm, identifying the trigger, giving your horse space, using gentle touch, using distractions, and considering calming supplements, you can effectively calm an angry horse. Remember, it’s important to maintain a safe and peaceful environment for both you and your horse. By understanding and addressing horse anger, you can build a stronger bond with your horse and enjoy many happy and peaceful rides together.

Preventing Anger in Horses Through Proper Care and Management

Provide Adequate Nutrition

One of the most important aspects of horse care is nutrition. Horses need a balanced diet that meets their specific needs based on their age, weight, and activity level. A lack of proper nutrition can lead to health issues and discomfort, which can cause a horse to become irritable and even aggressive. Make sure your horse has access to clean water and quality hay or pasture, and consider adding a vitamin and mineral supplement to their diet if needed.

Maintain a Clean Environment

A clean and comfortable living environment is essential for a horse’s physical and mental well-being. Regular stall cleaning, proper ventilation, and adequate space are all important factors to consider. A dirty and cramped living space can lead to stress and frustration, which can manifest as anger in horses. Make sure your horse has a comfortable and clean place to rest and move around.

Provide Adequate Exercise and Socialization

Horses are social animals and need regular exercise and interaction with other horses and humans. A lack of exercise and socialization can lead to boredom and frustration, which can cause a horse to become irritable and even aggressive. Make sure your horse gets regular exercise and has opportunities to interact with other horses and people.

Be Attentive to Your Horse’s Needs

As horse owners, it’s our responsibility to be attentive to our horse’s needs and emotions. Pay attention to your horse’s body language and behavior, and be responsive to their needs. If your horse seems uncomfortable or in pain, address the issue promptly. If your horse seems anxious or stressed, try to identify the source of their anxiety and take steps to alleviate it.

Work with a Professional

If you’re having trouble managing your horse’s behavior or emotions, don’t hesitate to seek help from a professional. A qualified equine behaviorist or trainer can help you identify the source of your horse’s anger and develop a plan to address it. They can also provide guidance on proper care and management techniques to prevent future anger issues.

In conclusion, preventing anger in horses requires proper care and management. By providing adequate nutrition, maintaining a clean environment, providing adequate exercise and socialization, being attentive to your horse’s needs, and working with a professional if needed, you can help prevent anger and promote a happy and healthy horse. Remember, horses are emotional creatures, and it’s our responsibility as horse owners to provide them with the care and attention they need to thrive.

References for “What Makes a Horse Angry?”

  1. Horse Journals: Why Do Horses Bite and How to Stop It
  2. The Spruce Pets: Why Do Horses Buck?
  3. Equisearch: Why Horses Kick
  4. Horsetalk: Horse Behaviour – Recognising Pain
  5. Horse and Hound: Why Horses Rear and How to Stop It

A video on this subject that might interest you:

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