Why Do Horses Put Their Noses to Your Face?

By Jeanne Grunert

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Horses are social animals who explore the world using their lips, noses and mouths. Horses show affection by touching your face. Their field of vision is also different from a person's, and they may bring their heads down just to see you a little better or smell something in your hand, like a treat. Unless a horse is biting or nipping, there's no need to worry about this behavior.

Exploration

Horses use their lips the way people use their hands—to touch, explore, and sense the world around them. A horse who puts his nose in your face may be trying to use his mouth to gently touch you, the way he might greet another horse. Horses also engage in mutual grooming, and he might be putting his nose by yours to invite you to scratch his nose or groom his face.

Affection

Another reason horses put their noses in your face is to show affection. Horses show affection for one another by gently blowing into each other's nostrils, and your horse may be trying to show affection for you as if you were another horse. Mare nuzzle their foals, and reaching out to touch your face may be how your horse says "I love you" in a similar way.

Sight

Horses have different fields of vision from humans, and they often move their heads simply so they can see better. A horse has binocular vision to the front but a blind spot directly in front of his nose. He may be moving his head closer to yours so he can get a better look at you if you're in his blind spot.

Learned Behavior

Horses may also duck their noses to your face if they've learned that people bring them treats. In their eagerness to get treats, they may move quickly into your space. They may also have learned along the way that such behavior is rewarded with affectionate pets or scratches. Unless this behavior bothers you or turns into nipping, it's usually fine. To get a horse to stop doing this, tap him on the chest to get him to back up.

Photo Credits

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Author

Jeanne Grunert has been a writer since 1990. Covering business, marketing, gardening and health topics, her work has appeared in the "Chicken Soup for the Soul" books, "Horse Illustrated" and many national publications. Grunert earned her Master of Arts in writing from Queens College and a Master of Science in direct and interactive marketing from New York University.