Horses use a wide variety of subtle communication methods. Even a flick of the ear or tail has a meaning. Pippin, a miniature horse, came to meet horses of regular size. The whole herd got very excited about the newcomer. The horses took turns greeting Pippin. Even the wire fence couldn’t stop their curiosity. The entire initiation procedure is filled with so much tenderness, it is a beautiful sight to see! Please, enjoy this adorable video, and don’t forget to SHARE it with your horse lovers.
Tactile and visual signals are very important for the herd. From the point of their nose to the tip of their tails, horses communicate continuously. They are open grassland animals, and they rarely lose visual contact with other members of the herd. This may be the reason why horses’ acoustic communication is remarkably poor for an animal with such an elaborate social system.
Nose-nose sniffing is a usual greeting gesture. Nose-elbow and nose-flank contact is typical for stallion encounters and courtship. Low-ranking members of the herd groom other horses more and initiate more groomings. The function of that procedure is bonding and calming. Another way of communication among horses is playing. Young mares stop playing once they have their first foal. Adult stallions play with their sons and other young stallions to train and prepare them for dominance fights, which include bite threats and bites, kick threats and kicks.
Most horse herds have linear dominance hierarchies, but some form triangles, where one horse is dominant over another, and that horse is dominant over the third, which is dominant over the first. Horses set up an order of who eats first, drinks first, and accesses shelter first.
Throughout their lives, horses have one or two, preferred social partners. These ”buddies” spend most of the time together, always rest in each other’s company, follow each other frequently, exchange body-contacts and grooming procedures.