Horses are extremely social animals and they communicate with each other – and with us – all the time. However, we aren’t always very good at picking up their subtle signals. Or is it just that we’re not looking hard enough.

Recently, equine behaviour consultant Justine Harrison explained what our horse’s eyes could tell us about his mood. This time, the attention is on his ears.

Ear, ear
The position and movement of the ears are a great indicator of where a horse’s attention is directed. They can also signal levels of arousal and mood.

Forward facing – Ears pricked forwards means that the horse is directing his attention and listening in front of him. Once he has satisfied his curiosity, the ears quickly relax.

It’s behind you – If something behind your horse catches his attention he may split his focus and turn one ear backwards to listen out for anything interesting.

Listening ears – You’ll often find your horse splits his attention by flicking his ears back and forth when being ridden – listening both to his rider and being aware of what’s in front of him.

Side on – Ears turned to the side could mean that your horse is paying attention to something beside him or, if they’re drooping to the side, it could indicate relaxation, drowsiness or pain.

Flat and back – Ears turned backwards mean that your horse’s attention is focused behind him, while ears pinned back indicate aggression or fear. How flattened they are is a great indicator of the severity of his threat.

In the next issue of Your Horse we’ll be taking a more in-depth look into how you can read your horse’s body language. Look out for it on shelves from 5 March.

Don’t miss the latest issue of Your Horse Magazine, jam-packed with training and veterinary advice, horse-care tips and the latest equestrian products available on shop shelves, on sale now.