Read His Eye Before You Mount

A horse’s eye is a window to his soul—or at least a good indication of how he’s likely to behave under saddle on any given day.

A horse’s eye is a window to his soul—or at least a good indication of how he’s likely to behave under saddle on any given day.

Horses are incredibly intuitive creatures and they often communicate their feelings and emotions through their body language. As a rider, it is important to be able to read your horse’s subtle cues in order to have a safe and successful ride. One of the most telling indicators of your horse’s mood can be found in his eyes.

The Soft Eye

A soft eye is a sign of relaxation and trust. When your horse’s eyes are soft, he’s showing signs of relaxation, and you may even see his lower lip droop. This indicates that your horse is comfortable and at ease with you as their rider. A soft eye also suggests that your horse is in a calm state of mind and ready to work with you.

A soft eye can indicate your horse is in a good place to learn and work. byrdyak/adobe.stock.com

The Watchful Eye

On the other hand, a watchful eye is a sign of alertness and potential tension. When your horse’s eyes are wide open and his pupils are dilated, it means that he is on high alert and may be anticipating something. This could be due to external stimuli such as noises or sudden movements, or it could be a sign of internal stress or anxiety. It is important to pay attention to your horse’s watchful eye and try to identify the source of his tension before mounting up.

Other Eye Indicators

Aside from the soft and watchful eyes, there are other eye indicators that can give you insight into your horse’s mood. A hard eye, where the eye appears tense and the whites of the eye are visible, can be a sign of aggression or fear. It’s worth noting that some horses always have the white of their eye showing, depending on breed or characteristics. A rolling eye, where your horse’s eyes constantly move back and forth, could indicate pain or discomfort. It is important to take note of these subtle cues and address them before getting in the saddle.

Why This Matters

Reading your horse’s eye before you mount up is important for your safety and the well-being of your horse. If your horse is showing signs of tension or discomfort, it could lead to potential issues during the ride such as spooking or bucking. By understanding and addressing these cues, you can build a stronger relationship with your horse and ensure a more enjoyable riding experience.

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