Equine Behavior Questions and Answers

The Question: Why does my horse snort?

I have a simple question. Why does a horse snort? What does snorting communicate - about the horse him/herself, and about the horse's perception of his/her environment?

The Answer


Snorting is just one way horses can communicate with each other - and with us! When a horse snorts, he's normally very alert because snorting is often used to communicate possible danger to his herd mates. Normally when a horse snorts, his head is held up, his ears are often held forward towards whatever he feels is posing a potential threat, and he stands still.

A horse will snort when they hear something unusual, smell strange, or see something they don't expect or aren't used to. Horses may also snort when they come into contact with a new horse or one that they feel threatened by.

When your horse snorts, he's telling you there's something different, something that concerns him, in his environment. Once he snorts to alert you or other horses to the potential danger, he may discover that whatever concerned him is nothing - and he may go back to whatever he was doing. Or, he may investigate and feel that whatever he saw is dangerous - and he may spook, bolt, or even attack (if it is another horse).

I hope this helps you know what your horse is saying when he snorts.

The Equine Behaviorist

Do you have a question? Email your questions, and it may be answered on this site.

Email The Behaviorist

2005 Jennifer Williams. All rights reserved.

Site by VanBasti Designs.