Giving me the eye
Q I love grooming, but when I lift a brush to the right side of my horse’s face, she tilts her head and looks at me. Her ears aren’t back — is she anticipating enjoyment, or might she be fearful or sore? Emma Wandsworth, Southampton Catherine says... It’s great that you’ve been able to identify that she only responds like this when you groom a specific area. Although you’ve identified what her ears are doing, it’s important to consider other signs too. If there is tension through her facial muscles and around her muzzle and chin, or triangulation of the upper eyelid, this may indicate she is experiencing some anxiety. If she’s showing the white of her eye, this too may suggest that being brushed here is something she’s uncomfortable about. It’s possible that by moving her head, she’s able
to keep you or the brush in her line of vision. It may be that her vision on that side is impaired in some way. Equally, she could be experiencing pain or discomfort in that area of her face or her ear, causing her to move away in anticipation. It’s advisable to get your vet to check her over, just in case.
Help establish whether your horse’s feelings are negative or positive by grooming her while she’s loose and observe her reaction. If she’s anticipating a favourite spot being groomed, then she is likely to stay with you and even lean into the pressure of the brush. If she is really enjoying the grooming, you might even get to see the extension and wobble of her top lip. If, however, she ‘s trying to express she’s uncomfortable, or is fearful of being touched, it’s likely that she’ll move away from you.
Your horse’s response to being groomed tells you a lot about how he’s feeling