Aggression This is a similar behavior to the stallion in the previous picture, but much less in intensity. The horse on the right is telling the horse on the left to MOVE IT! The horse on the left gets the message. The desire to guard the hay pile in front of the horse on the right is most likely the source of the aggression
Play Can also be interpreted as “sparring” and is most often between geldings or bachelor stallions, not so much between mares. The relaxed postures and lack of intensity distinguish between this behavior and a full out stallion challenge.
Curiosity, Meet and Greet Very common posturing when two horses meet for the first time, assuming they are allowed to meet on their own terms and at liberty. Often this “smelling each other” posture will be followed by a squeal from one or both and there may also be a strike or sharp pawing with one or both front feet.
Curiosity This youngster exhibits similar posture to the horse on the left in the previous picture: arched neck, pricked forward ears, intense gaze. This youngster’s body shows some tension, a “just in case” readiness, that indicates a sudden move by the cat will send the horse dashing off.
Threat to Bite? as well as the reaction of the dark horse. The ears of the paint horse are not pinned in a hard aggressive posture, Eyes are wide open, face is only somewhat tense, so this is likely a warning and as long as the dark horse continues to respond, the paint will likely not escalate.
Foal Snapping Although it looks like the foal is biting, this is a behavior exhibited by youngsters toward older horses. It is a submissive behavior that tells the older horse, “I’m a baby, please don’t hurt me.”
Mutual Grooming Again, what may look like biting is actually a core behavior in horse society. This “grooming” of each other is a powerful bonding behavior between two individuals. Although the ears are back, they are not pinned hard to the head, the eyes are open and relaxed and the body posture is also relaxed.
Flehmen Response “Flehmen” means "testing", This is a type of olfactory investigation horse use to analyze scents – particularly pheromones – more closely. The upper lip curl helps trap scents in the vomeronasal organs. It is most often used by stallions as they “test” the scent of a mare to see if she is ready for breeding. But all horses will exhibit flehmen, sometimes it happens when they come in contact with an unusually strange or pungent inorganic odor
Flight The first response of horses to a perceived danger is to run away. These horses are not running hard or in a panic, they are fully aware that the source of their discomfort (the human holding the camera) is not a real threat.
Curious, On Alert Head and neck extended toward object of curiosity, ears intently pricked forward, eyes intently focused, nostrils sniffing or blowing, muzzle pursed, tail up. This horse is not overly alarmed, but ready to run if need be.
Rearing This horse IS rearing from excitement or just feeling good. Everything about him is relaxed.
Reading Body Language For safety, it is important to stay “tuned in” to the horses you are working with and around. Horses will almost always warn you before executing a dangerous behavior. Horses are very good at reading body language, especially as a way to determine if nearby predators are hungry and therefore an immanent threat. Otherwise the horses would always be in a state of high stress when a predator is near. Therefore, it is important we realize that we are a predator species and must learn to be aware of and control our predator behaviors and learn to recognize what we might be communicating to the horse inadvertently.