What Do Horses Do When They Are Angry?

Horses, the majestic creatures that have inspired countless hair shampoo commercials with their glorious manes. They’ve been our companions for millennia, chauffeurs before cars, our partners in sports, and sometimes, our dance partners (ever seen dressage?). But, like every elegant creature, they too have moods – especially the mood that turns them into four-legged Hulk. Let's decode the fury of our equine buddies!

What Do Horses Do When They Are Angry?


Horses, while known for their grace and beauty, are also emotional beings. (No, they don’t cry over spilled oats, but you get the gist). These amazing creatures can go from being the gentle giants of fairy tales to throwing toddler-level tantrums – and everything in between. For the equestrians among us, and those who fancy them from a distance, it's essential to know what ticks them off and how they express their anger.

What is anger in horses?

Ever seen a toddler throw a tantrum because they can’t get the toy they want? Now imagine a 1000-pound toddler with hooves. Yup, that’s an angry horse for you. Like humans, horses express anger when they're unhappy, frustrated, or feel threatened. But unlike humans, they don’t write passive-aggressive notes or give you the silent treatment. Instead, their signs are more, well... physical.

What Do Horses Do When They Are Angry?

What causes anger in horses?

The same thing that makes you mad when someone takes the last piece of pizza without asking. Injustice! Jokes aside, various factors can irritate our equine friends:

  • Pain or discomfort: Like a shoe that’s too tight, an uncomfortable saddle or a hidden injury can be culprits.
  • Fear or anxiety: New environments or sudden noises can be just as scary for horses as that unexpected spider on your pillow is for you.
  • Frustration: If a horse is denied its favorite snack (perhaps one from our collection?), or doesn't get to frolic with its buddies, it might just have a few...neigh-gatives to express.

How Do Horses Express Their Anger?

Unlike humans who might subtweet or avoid eye contact in the elevator, horses have their own unique – and pretty obvious – ways of letting you know they're peeved.

Horse Expressing Anger
  • Ears pinned back: This isn't them trying to mimic that cool undercut you got last summer. If those ears are flat against their head, it’s a clear "back off, buddy!" sign.
  • Tail swishing: A gentle tail sway? They're probably daydreaming of green pastures. Frantic tail swishing? It’s not them practicing for the tail-swishing Olympics; they’re annoyed!
  • Biting or kicking: This is horse for "I’m seriously not in the mood." (And it's your cue to give them some space).
  • Charging: Yup, you guessed it. This isn't them playfully running towards you. It’s their version of CAPS LOCK ON.
Angry Horse

Help! How Can I Help My Horse Calm Down?

Okay, so you've determined that Mr. Ed is in one of his moods again. But how do you go from "angry gallops" to "gentle trots?" Let’s saddle up and delve into the art of equine anger management.

  1. Identify the Cause: Maybe it's that new brand of hay (trust me, they can be foodies), the noisy construction nearby, or perhaps that overly tight jodhpur you tried on them. Figuring out the WHY is half the battle.
  2. Safe Surroundings: Ensure that their stable, field, or pen is free from things that might stress or harm them. And maybe play some soothing barn tunes? (Horse-approved, of course).
  3. Positive Reinforcement: Just like we love a "Good job!" or a pat on the back, horses too appreciate rewards for good behavior. Maybe one of these treats?
  4. Consult a Professional: If all else fails and their tantrums are more diva than divo, consider seeking advice from a horse behaviorist or trainer. No shame in calling for backup!
Horse Being Calm

Additional Tips for Managing Horse Emotions

Now that we’ve looked at how our equine pals express their anger and how to help them keep their cool, let’s dig a little deeper. Sometimes, managing a horse's emotions requires a bit more than just a carrot or a gentle pat.

Horse and Trainer Bonding

Maintaining a Routine

Just like us after our third cup of coffee on Monday morning, horses thrive on routine. Feeding, exercise, and even grooming at consistent times can make a world of difference. Think of it as their version of a daily planner. Without the stickers and doodles, of course!

Quality Gear

Ever had a shoe that pinches or a shirt that’s itchy? Horses feel the same. Invest in high-quality hoof care & boots, jodhpurs, and bridles to ensure your horse's comfort. And hey, while you're at it, maybe throw in a pair of those stylish riding gloves for yourself!

Horse in Quality Gear

Health Check

Keep an eye on their health. Regular check-ups, timely vaccinations, and appropriate vitamins & supplements can help ensure they're not just fit, but happy.

Training and Socializing

Engaging them in different activities and introducing them to both human and equine buddies can enrich their environment. Remember, nobody likes feeling cooped up or isolated, not even our four-legged friends.


To sum it all up, understanding and managing horse emotions, especially anger, is essential for a harmonious horse-human relationship. With a sprinkle of patience, a dollop of understanding, and the right techniques, your journey with your horse can be less about managing tantrums and more about building trust and love. And hey, if all else fails, there’s always that secret stash of horse treats to bribe – err, we mean, reward them!

Check out more on managing horse behavior and the latest in equestrian fashion and gear at Just Horse Riders.

Note: Images were generated by AI and have only been used for the purpose of this article.

Asked By You: Horse Behavior Q&A

It's Q&A time! 🎉 You asked, and we listened. Let's tackle some of those burning questions you have about horse behavior.

What are horse signs of aggression?

Like that friend who hogs the remote, horses have clear signs when they’re not in the mood. Some top chart-toppers in the aggression playlist include biting, kicking, and charging. If you see their ears pinned back or a fiercely swishing tail, you might want to reconsider getting on their bad side for the day!

What does a horse's body language look like when angry?

Imagine how you look when someone takes the last slice of pizza without asking. That's a horse's face (minus the tears) when they're mad! Key things to watch for include those pinned-back ears, wide eyes, raised head, flared nostrils, and, oh, that unmistakable tail swish. Remember, understanding their body language is like decoding a secret message; once you get the hang of it, you'll know exactly how they're feeling.

Horse with Pinned Back Ears

What does it mean when a horse lowers its head to you?

A horse lowering its head can be like that universal sigh after a long day. It often indicates relaxation, trust, or submission. It's like your horse is saying, "Alright, human, you win this round." However, context is king. In certain situations, it can also be a sign of discomfort or illness, so always stay observant!

What are unwanted behaviors in horses?

Just as we have our no-no list (like chewing with mouths open or texting during movies), horses have theirs. Bucking, rearing, bolting, and nipping can all be classified as ‘Please, not today!’ behaviors. These actions can be rooted in various causes, from pain to plain old boredom. The trick is to figure out the WHY before addressing the WHAT. Dive deeper into understanding these with the help of equestrian blogs.

Got more questions? Keep them coming, and we'll keep the answers rolling!