To be a good horseperson you have to learn to listen to your horse. Horses are very good at communicating with us, if we know what to look for. Body language is the main way your horse talks to you, so you need to understand it to be able to respond. In this post, we will look at some of the ways that a horse uses his eyes to tell us how he is feeling.
Content and alert
When your horse is happy and aware, his eyes will be bright and focused. They will move often, but not frantically, to take in his surroundings. When this is the case, his ears will usually be attentive as well, moving casually to tune into what is happening around him.
Nervous or tense
Tension in the corner of the eye and wrinkles in the upper eyelids can be signs of nervousness, fear or discomfort. Make sure you are familiar with how your horse looks when he is happy and content so that you can pick up on these changes if and when they occur. Sometimes the change is subtle, but if you are able to see it, you can prevent something more extreme or dangerous from happening. If your horse’s eyes begin darting back and forth frantically, it is usually a sign of fear and he is probably looking for the best way to make his escape from the scary situation.
Fearful or aggressive
In some horses, the sclera(white of the eye) is visible all the time. This is another reason to know what is normal for your horse. If your horse is worked up enough that the whites of his eyes are showing or more exposed than normal, he is pretty upset. If it is paired with with pinned ears, its usually a sign of anger. Paired with snorting, it can indicate fear. In any case, it takes quick thinking and confident handling to distract him from whatever is making him react so negatively.
If his eyes are closed, your horse is probably resting or napping. Make sure you talk to him before getting to close so you don’t startle him and make him spook. If only one eye is closed though, or he seems agitated, he might have done something to his eye. If there is an eye injury, call the vet immediately.