What does face rubbing mean?

Q: My horse likes to rub his face on me after I’ve finished riding. Some say it’s a bad habit and others say it’s a sign of affection. What do you guys think?

Asked anonymously

A: The first thing I’d check is that your noseband is not on too tightly. Although wanting to rub after work is quite normal, tight nosebands can cause the horse’s face and nose to go numb, which often causes them to rub their faces. You can sometimes detect this in horses who often try to rub their face on the leg during work.

In my opinion, this rubbing is a bad habit. Horses are strong animals and can easily push you over if they rub too hard. Rather get your horse’s bridle off as soon as you can so that he can rub his head on something else, without damaging your bridle. My horse used to try and rub on me when I undid the buckles of his bridle and I used the “If you rub on me the bridle doesn’t come off” approach. I used to stop unbuckling the second he tried to rub and only resumed when he stopped trying to rub. He quickly learnt to stand still so the job could be done in 5 seconds flat.

Answered by Charlotte Bastiaanse

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