Understanding Equine Behavior: Message in the Muzzle by Alternative Horsemanship

Message in the Muzzle

So many people are drawn to constantly want to touch or be close to the horse's muzzle area as it seems to provoke emotions in the human.
I have found one of the easiest ways to assess the horse's current mental, emotional, and physical state is reflected in how he holds his muzzle.

  • Are there wrinkles and worry lines above the nostrils or below the bottom lip?
  • Are the nostrils flared, is one held larger than the other, are they elongated and narrow, or look like they are inflated?
  • How fast is his breathing, when at a standstill? Are his breaths quick and short?
  • Is the bottom lip wrinkled up, and held with tension, or soft and hanging?
  • Is the area in general quiet and relaxed, or is there a lot of movement in the horse's upper and lower lips?
As you start to refine what you're noticing, watch for how quickly changes in the horse's emotional state are reflected in the physical tension or softness in the muzzle area.

Have you noticed any patterns or behaviors when working with your horse and what he displays in his muzzle area?

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