Horse Lips

Lips are often the first thing that people notice about a horse. But did you know they can tell us something about horses? The shape, texture, and color of lips reflect the health of your horse. Here are some interesting facts to get you started!

  • The ‘full‘ or ‘round‘ lip is indicative of good nutrition and hydration; it also suggests that the animal has enough room for its teeth in its mouth.
  • A narrow lip may indicate an illness or stress condition. Lips can be dry because there might not be enough food available to produce the saliva necessary for lubricating them.

Many horse owners often wonder what makes their horse flaps his or her lips. In some cases, it can be a sign of anxiety, boredom, or frustration, but it may also just be because they are trying to cool themselves off on a hot day.

So next time you’re out with your horse, take a look at its face and the different signals it might be sending. If you know what they mean then maybe even respond to them by matching their behavior or tone of voice.

While the cute behavior of horses flapping their lips at humans can be fun to watch, we must learn how to understand what these facial expressions mean. Let’s take a look at how to read a horse’s face and decode its messages.

At first glance, a horse’s face can be confusing to read. However, by looking at specific features on the animal’s muzzle and chin region we can decipher what is trying to convey.

Reading your Horse’s Face

Have you ever looked at a horse’s face to see what they are thinking? When the corners of their mouth go up, it means they are happy. If their ears point forward or backward, that is where they want to go. A wide-open mouth with teeth showing could mean either fear or aggression.

Learning how to read your horse’s facial expressions can be key in understanding them and improving communication between the two of you.

Horses and humans are two completely different species, with very unique facial expressions. Humans express themselves in a way that is dictated by their emotions; however, horses’ faces can’t convey emotion as we do.

When we communicate with horses, it can feel like speaking to a completely different species. Horses are prey animals and humans predators. This means that their facial expressions tend to be very different from ours as they’re always on the lookout for danger.


Horse Lips


While human communication is complex and nuanced compared to horse-speak, looking closely at how these two species interact opens up insights into both animal behavior and our own humanity.

Horses use many different signals to send messages, including facial expressions. For example, when a horse is being aggressive it will pull back its ears and bares its teeth in the process known as the ‘Flehmen Response’. To non-horse owners, this can be pretty scary but if you know what your horses are doing then these signs should not bother you too much.

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Why Do Horses Flehmen

Flehmen is a behavior that many people don’t know about and even fewer understand. Flehmen is a term that describes the behavior in horses where they curl their upper lip upwards to draw air into the nasal passage. 

Horses are thought to flehmen when detecting odors or chemical substances that are unfamiliar, potentially threatening, or sexually attractive.

It’s an action taken by horses in response to various stimuli, but the most common one seems to be odors. The horse will raise its head and curl back its upper lip, exposing the front teeth and gums. This allows them to take in more air which they then exhale through their nostrils.


laughing horse


Horse owners may have seen this activity before with their horse sniffing at something and lifting its head up.

Horses use this gesture as a way of identifying scents like urine or pheromones from other horses when they are looking for mates or trying to identify threats in their environment such as predators or strangers who might not be welcome near them. It can also help with the identification of food sources too because it gives the horse a much better sense of smell.

Flehmen can be an important indicator of how your horse perceives different things around it!

Flehmen can also happen when horses are afraid or stressed. It’s important for owners to know what causes this behavior so that they can take appropriate action if the horse is exhibiting this reaction without any obvious stimuli.

What does Horse Licking Lips Mean

Licking lips is a common behavior for horses. It can be difficult to understand all the different meanings of this behavior, but if you notice your horse licking his lips while he’s looking at a person, it typically indicates that your horse trusts and likes that person.

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Licking lips can also be seen as a sign of excitement, and horses often lick their lips for this reason. A Horses’ lips are quite sensitive, so horses may also be licking them as a way to explore the world around them by touching objects with their tongue.

Horses may also lick their lips if they find something particularly tasty or delicious, but do not want to swallow it right away because they want to keep eating.