How Horses Show Affection? 15 Ways Horses Like You

When discussing the affection of animals, most people equate the term to a cat or dog-like behavior. They don’t realize that the same behavior is prevalent in horses, sometimes equally as well. The difference is that we’re not used to noticing the signs like we are with other pets.

The reality is that horses are very affectionate and, what’s more important, they can sense your emotions and react to them. If you’re positive, calm, balanced, and caring, your horse will reflect those feelings, and you will be able to tell.

If you can’t and wonder if your horse loves you, here are the 15 most compelling signs unveiling your horse’s emotions towards you:

1. Coming to You

There are few reasons why your horse will come to you, except for the promise of treats, if it thinks you will provide food, or because it loves you. This latter behavior is that much more obvious when the horse will interrupt its feeding to greet you. That shows that you are more important to it than its food, signifying a strong bond between you.

The sign is that much more compelling if the horse will come to you willingly, without being called. Such a bond is something special, worth cherishing.

2. Extreme Willingness to Please

Horses are generally docile animals that show an instinctual willingness to please their owners. However, this behavior suggests deep affection when taken to the extreme. In other words, your horse will check your every movement, turning its head and ears in your direction constantly.

This shows that they are interested in what you’re doing to see if you address them in any way. It is the typical behavior of an animal that’s not only highly trainable but also emotionally attached to you.

3. Displaying Herd-Like Behavior

Horses are, just like dogs and many other creatures, social animals. They live in herds, have an alpha leader, and enjoy the company of their peers. This will influence their social behavior towards you, causing them to follow you around like it would one of its own.

This shows that the horse enjoys your presence and considers you trustworthy. Bathe in it because not all people will get this honor.

4. Being Calm and Relaxed Around You

Horses are instinctually reserved and cautious when it comes to facing new people. They will generally exert the basic fight or flight instinct when faced with someone they don’t know, with most horses choosing the latter. Having a horse that doesn’t flee your presence but, rather, seems to enjoy it suggests trust.

You can tell that the horse is relaxed around you if it starts eating while you’re around and doesn’t mind your presence or touch.

5. See You as The Leader

Not all horses are alpha, but they all have some of that instinct in them. Many horses will test your reaction to them trying to take over the space. A calm and collected attitude will tell the horse that you are not impressed by its display of power, which is an alpha characteristic.

If the horse sees you as alpha, it will develop a strong emotional attachment to you.

6. Sharing Your Space

Horses tend to do this with other horses when expressing their affection. They will come close to you, touch you with their bodies, push you with their heads, and breathe next to you. This behavior suggests that the horse is fond of you and tries to socialize and get your attention.

It’s their way of hugging you and giving you kisses to show their affection.

7. Breathing Your Air and Kissing Your Face

This is another typical behavior among horses that are fond of each other. Horses will often breathe nose-to-nose and touch their faces to show affection and sympathy. Expect the same treatment from your horse if it really cares about you.

A horse exhibiting this behavior suggests that it sees you as one of its own. It also suggests that it tries to bond with you because it trusts and loves you.

8. Running When You Call Their Name

You may have seen this behavior in dogs, and it applies to horses perfectly. If your horse rushes in your direction when you call its name, you have something special going on. That’s even more obvious if the horse quits its favorite activities like eating and resting to come to greet you.

9. Excited Vocalizations

Horses have numerous vocalizations to express fear, anger, interest, and excitement, among other things. You can tell that your horse is happy to see you by the sounds of excitement it will produce.

It is a whinnying sound that will tell you everything you need to know about your horse’s intentions and emotions.

10. Nuzzling

This is a gesture that many people find threatening, but that’s not the case. Nuzzling is the horse’s act of pushing you with its nose and breathing around you or straight in your face. This is a social behavior that many horses will engage in to show sympathy and bond with other horses.

It’s like a monkey grooming another to create social bonds, relax, and show affection. Horses work the same way, just without hands. Which means they will use their noses as their appendix of choice.

Next time a horse comes near you to drool over your shoulder, smell your breath, or kiss you with its big lips, calm down. It means it likes you.

11. The Horse Allows for Touches

You have probably noticed by now that horses won’t let just anyone touch them. Contrary to what you might think, horses are excellent judges of character. They will feel your emotions and state of mind, which will influence their behavior.

If the horse remains calm and relaxed when you’re touching it, take it as a sign of trust and affection. The horse will initiate the touch by pushing you or coming close for a rub in many cases.

Don’t ignore its behavior! Rub its back, scratch its sides or neck and allow that special connection to build and grow.

12. Obeying Your Commands

You need to remember that horses can be very stubborn towards humans they don’t like. This is the main reason why jockeys focus on developing a strong bond with their horses. And why they only ever use that horse in their competitions.

That’s because, once you’ve earned the horse’s trust, it will become a lot more obedient. Obeying your commands suggests both attachment and trust, and these build with time. Don’t expect to notice this behavior in a horse you’ve just met.

13. Snoozing in Your Presence

This is a major sign that most people tend to overlook. As prey, horses have very powerful defensive instincts. They will only snooze or sleep when they feel safe and protected from predators. This is why horses are herd animals because herds provide them with security and peace of mind.

If the horse snoozes or even sleeps in your company, that’s a sign that the horse trusts you. It sees you as non-threatening and a protector, keeping the predators at bay. It’s probably one of the most heart-warming sights to see when in a horse’s company.

The horse is basically telling you that you are part of the family.

14. The Horse Will Lip You and Snort in Your Face

The lipping part refers to the horse touching your face or shoulders with its curled upper lip. Snorting is another sign that the horse appreciates your company, as is blowing in your face. These are all behaviors that horses will typically show in herds when grooming other horses.

Congratulations, your horse is grooming you as one of its kind. And it’s all free of charge.

15. The Horse Misses You

A horse that’s attached to you will try to leave with you, just like a dog would. You can quickly tell that the horse misses you by its attitude when you’re leaving or coming. A similarly affectionate behavior will occur when returning, and the horse spots you from afar. You will see it coming close to the fence, waiting for you to approach.

Horses are so smart that they can even recognize your car and will exhibit a similar behavior.

Now that you know how the horse behaves when it likes you, what’s the reverse, might you ask? How can you tell that the horse doesn’t like or respect you?

Here are a few compelling signs in that sense:

  • General body language – The horse will tilt its ears back when you approach and lift its head as a threat. It may also try to invade your space and push you away as a sign of dominance. Needless to say, you don’t want to challenge that behavior since no man is a match for a 1,000 lbs. horse.
  • Wagging their tail – This behavior is also common in cats. Cats who wag their tail express anger, irritability, or stress, and the same goes for a horse. If the horse wags its tail aggressively whenever you attempt to approach it, think twice about your actions.
  • Refusing to obey – This is a common behavior in horses that don’t like you. Not obeying your commands shows a total lack of respect which you may or may not earn back.
  • Showing their teeth – This behavior is similar to that of dogs who tend to growl and show their teeth when expressing anger or looking to intimidate. A horse showing its teeth may suggest it doesn’t appreciate your company.
  • Step on your feet – Believe it or not, the fact that your horse hasn’t stepped on your foot yet is not the result of chance. Horses are very careful where they step, especially when they have someone they like with them. If your horse tends to step on your foot or push you with its body repeatedly, that could be a sign that it doesn’t like your presence.


It’s important to mention that horses have a very good memory. They never forget someone who’s mistreated them in the past, and, apparently, they never forgive either. Just be aware that your horse will retain your smell, looks, and voice and, if you’ve mistreated it, your chance of bonding with it is non-existent.

Horses are very intelligent, emotional, and loyal animals. If your horse shows signs that it loves you, consider yourself lucky and honored. There’s nothing more heart-warming than having an animal trusting you as one of its own.

avatar Noah
I’m Noah, chief editor at VIVO Pets and the proud owner of a playful, energetic husky (Max). I’ve been a volunteer at Rex Animal Rescue for over 2 years. I love learning and writing about different animals that can be kept as pets. read more...

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