Question: Horse Keeps Putting His Head on My Back or Shoulder. Is this Proper Behavior?

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Horses scratch each other. Should humans allow horses to do this? NWHS Photo


Hi Al,

Good morning, I have a question that I’m hoping you can answer for me. I have recently started riding a friends horse (after not riding for almost 10 years). It is a 6yr old gelding (Section D Welsh Cob). I rode him for the second time yesterday, and while brushing him he kept turning to put his head on my back, or onto my shoulder or head if I was near enough. Some people have said this is a dominance thing and I shouldn’t allow it, but really he just seems like he is wanting affection. What does this behavior usually mean?

I don’t think that my friend spends a lot of time with him, other than actually riding, as his groom tacks the horse up, etc… could it be that he is just enjoying the attention?

Submitted by Jade


Hi Jade,

Thanks for your question to Northwest Horse Source.  I will try to answer your concern about your friend’s horse’s behavior.
Many horses like human interaction.  You need to determine if the actions of the horse are safe and acceptable.  If the horse responds well to you when you ask him to obey under saddle and on the ground, you may not be a problem.  Although, if the gelding doesn’t respond well to your teaching and direction, you might try change how you are handling him.
Every horse is different you must be flexible and thoughtful.
Ride well,  Al


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