Why does a horse shake its head and what to do about it?

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Last updated on November 26th, 2022 at 03:08 pm

Communication with horses is an incomparable pleasure. But some of the actions of these animals can strain their owners and casual observers. So, not many people know why a horse shakes its head. It is also unclear how dangerous such a phenomenon is for an animal, whether it is necessary to fight it, and if so, by what methods.

Why does a horse shake its head and what to do about it?
Why does a horse shake its head?

Why does a horse shake its head and should we fight it?

Horses are very sociable, sincere and direct animals. They quickly submit in the hands of a skilled rider. And they often convey their feelings using body language. And if a person cannot understand this message, then it is only his fault. After all, knowledge of the body language of these animals would be useful in achieving mutual understanding with the pet. 


This would help to maintain his health, improve the comfort of keeping and peace of mind, which is very important for such sensitive animals. One of the most common questions that arise when working with them is why the horse shakes its head. It’s really worth it to figure it out.

Reason for head shaking

Making seemingly meaningless movements, the horses are trying to tell something about themselves. So, when a horse shakes its head, then in this way it compensates for the limitations in other actions. For example, if she is tempted to run, and she is restrained, then in this way her movements are obsessively constrained. A kind of substitution for the desired action, some form of protest – that’s why the horse shakes its head. But such dissatisfaction arises due to the lack of moral unity between the animal and the rider.

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On the true nature of the horse

On the true nature of the horse

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Horses are among the animal victims by their nature. They are timid from birth, afraid of closed spaces, panic. But an experienced horse breeder is able to help his pet become braver, calmer, more confident in himself and in a person he can trust. Therefore, it is not so difficult to understand why a horse shakes its head. It is much more important to understand the methods of establishing partnerships, trusting relationships with it.

Search for mutual trust

The beginning of the search for mutual understanding must be sought on earth. And you already need to be in the saddle, being a true friend of this horse. A special set of exercises can help to achieve such trust. It consists of movements that horses use during games in the herd. This technique will allow the animal to form the correct attitude towards the rider and the performance of its duties. 

One of the reasons a horse shakes its head is because of its distrust of the rider. Therefore, it is so important to let her feel who exactly is the leader in a particular situation. Then the horse will follow the incoming commands with respect and understanding. Moreover, his obedience will be based on the need to fulfill the request of the rider, and not the order.

Riding dynamics

Once you have learned to connect with your horse, you will need to master the natural dynamics of riding. You need to control the horse with just one rein, but you need to communicate with it using both parts of it. When the rider begins to pull on both reins, this is a guaranteed condition for why the horse shakes its head. This activates the natural fear of the animal to limit its living space. At the same time, his hind legs occupy an absolutely disadvantageous position – both for the horse and for the rider.

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If one rein is pulled, the rider will be able to control the hind legs of the animal. It is advisable to teach the pet to turn its head to the rider’s leg – first while on the ground, and then in the saddle. It is necessary to achieve such an “answer” gradually – first standing, later – moving at a step, and then at a trot. It is necessary to achieve the fastest possible response to the request of the rider. But this reaction should not be forced, but willing.


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You need to ride along the circumference of the parade ground, along the entire fence. Stops must be achieved by activating the rein placed closer to the wall. It’s more convenient. Later, it will be enough to move the hand along the rein forward a little so that the animal begins to prepare for the execution of the stop. Over time, it will be enough just to tighten the reins a little on one side in order to achieve the execution of the command at any speed of movement.

Riding style

The answer to the question why a horse shakes its head can be very many factors. So, riding style is important. The horse reacts sensitively to the state in which the rein is held – free or taut. Most of the lessons with the horse should be done with a free rein. After all, with a tense occasion, he will not be able to feel relaxed. It is necessary to treat the horse’s capabilities with understanding, not to demand too much, giving it time to realize everything that is happening. As for the bits, they will be optimal with a soft snaffle to start work. A more rigid iron will not allow you to achieve mutual trust with the horse.

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In order for the horse to freely carry out all the commands of the rider, it is important that he be satisfied. And in case of resentment or discomfort, he will shake his head and show his displeasure in many other ways. We must learn to understand the psychology of these animals, correctly interpret their actions and eliminate the causes of irritation. One way to do this is to monitor their health.

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