Giv­ing me the eye

Your Horse (UK) - - Ask The Experts -

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.

Loose groom­ing

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

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