why do horses smile

Why Do Horses Smile?

by | Dec 16, 2022 | Blog

Horses are known for their expressive faces and body language, and it’s not uncommon for people to interpret their facial expressions as smiling. However, it’s important to remember that horses do not smile in the same way that humans do.

There are several theories about why horses might appear to smile. One theory is that horses may “smile” as a way of displaying submission or appeasement. This can happen when a horse is confronted with a dominant individual, such as a human or another horse, and wants to avoid conflict or aggression. In this case, the horse may lower its head, expose its teeth, and pull back its lips in what looks like a smile.

Another theory is that horses may “smile” as a way of expressing pleasure or contentment. For example, a horse might “smile” when it’s being groomed or fed, or when it’s feeling relaxed and happy.

It’s important to note that horses do not have the same facial muscles as humans, so their ability to express emotions through facial expressions is limited. While it’s possible that a horse’s facial expressions may resemble a smile, it’s not an intentional or conscious act.

Despite this, it is possible to train a horse to “smile” on command for treats or rewards. This can be done through positive reinforcement training, where the horse is rewarded with a treat or other reward every time it “smiles” on command. It’s important to start small and gradually increase the difficulty of the task as the horse becomes more comfortable and proficient.

Here are some fun facts about smiling horses:

  • In some cultures, a horse’s “smile” is seen as a good omen or a sign of good fortune.
  • Horses can “smile” with both their upper and lower lips, giving them a range of facial expressions.
  • Some horses “smile” more frequently or easily than others, depending on their personality and temperament.
  • A horse’s “smile” can be contagious, with other horses in the herd often mimicking the behavior.
  • A horse’s “smile” can also be a sign of good dental health, as it indicates that the horse’s teeth are aligned and functioning properly.


In conclusion, while horses may appear to smile, it’s not the same as a human smile and is likely the result of a combination of body language and instinctual behaviors. It’s always important to remember that horses are complex and intelligent animals, and it’s important to respect their boundaries and communicate with them in a way that is clear and respectful.

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Equiniction Team

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