Many riders question whether horses have the ability to show love and affection.

It’s February and love is in the air! This intense emotion can be described as feeling deep affection for someone or something. Many would say they love their horse with their whole heart. Afterall, riding becomes a partnership in which you bond and learn all about each other. It involves trust and mutual respect.

Have you ever wondered if horses can love? You might have seen them in the field grooming each other or huddled together at the hay feeder, but what about people… I believe horses do show us affection, which ultimately can be viewed as a form of love. This notion may sound silly to some, but even science has proven that horses can feel a variety of emotions. They just show it in different ways.

Signs Your Horse Loves You

Rider with Horse

Comes to You

It’s a wonderful feeling when your horse greets you at the gate or their stall door, especially if they were eating. It means they chose you over food and their herd mates! You want your horse to be eager to spend time with you. It suggests they enjoy your company and even look forward to your arrival.

Whinnies When They See You

A horse whinnies at you for usually two different reasons. The first is they’re hungry and see you as the hay or grain provider. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing. At least you represent something positive to them. The second reason is they’re happy to see you. Horses often vocalize in order to get the attention of someone they’re familiar with. It’s a good feeling to have your horse notice you!

They’re Relaxed Around You

Over time, you can prove to your horse that you’re someone they can trust. Once they acknowledge this, they’ll begin to relax around you. They will not spook or act anxious, rather stay quiet and be easy-going. If you notice your horse’s head low, hind foot cocked, a droopy lower lip and big sighs, then you can be confident your horse is relaxed. Horses like to be in situations where they feel protected and comfortable. They’re likely to show you affection if you make them feel this way.

Rider with Horse


An obedient horse is respectful. They see you as the herd leader. It’s also a sign they trust your judgement and authority. This can include reacting quickly to your commands, not invading your space and following you around. Every horse owner should want a respectful and obedient horse! If you’re a kind and patient leader, then your horse is likely to enjoy your company. They thrive on leadership. You should also notice your horse wanting to spend more time with you.

Grooms You

Within the herd, horses will groom each other to show affection. They will use their mouth to scratch or nip at each other’s withers, neck and back. You horse may attempt this on you, especially if you’re already grooming or scratching them. It’s their way of returning the favor to a friend. Be careful though some can nip rather aggressively!

In addition to showing us affection, horses can also understand our mood and expressions. They are able to distinguish between positive and negative facial expressions that people make. Keep this in mind when you’re at the barn!

If you want your horse to love you, then try spending some extra time with them. Most enjoy a good grooming session or scratch on their wither. Find out their favorite activities and do them together! You’ll win over your horse’s heart in no time.

Emily Fought

Emily Fought discovered her passion for horses early on in life. When she isn't writing about them, you can find her in the barn riding. Although Emily's background is in dressage, she enjoys cross-training and is an avid trail rider. She resides in Northeastern Ohio with her husband and small dog. Together, they own and operate Humblewood Farm.