Affection or Dominance?

       The Horse Forum > Keeping and Caring for Horses > Horse Talk

Affection or Dominance?

This is a discussion on Affection or Dominance? within the Horse Talk forums, part of the Keeping and Caring for Horses category

Like Tree3Likes
  • 1 Post By AQHSam
  • 1 Post By tinyliny
  • 1 Post By AndreaSctlnd

LinkBack Thread Tools
    03-13-2012, 01:31 PM
Red face Affection or Dominance?

Hi everyone. If this is in the wrong place...

Last night I was at the barn and I had my girl in the cross ties. She was a MUDDY mess! So I was brushing all the mud off when I got to her back end. Now mind you, she didn't have her ears back and she wasn't showing me the least bit of attention while I was brushing her and yapping a mile a minute to her. Meanwhile, one of the other barn folks came in and we started talking. Well, I was sort of leaning in on Dee's hindend. Next thing I feel her leaning back in to me. As soon as I started to move, she stopped leaning. So, I continued on to the other side of her and got to her head. Well, I then stopped brushing as I got caught up in our conversation. I sort of had my hands on either side of her neck with my hands resting on each of her shoulders. The next thing I can feel her laying her neck on my shoulder and the only way to describe it was like she was hugging my neck/shoulder with her neck/jaw. And she was leaning pretty good. I didn't want to let this continue as I was not sure if it was affection or if she was trying to dominate me.

Any insight?
Sponsored Links
    03-13-2012, 02:10 PM
Sam will do this to me and I don't judge it as dominance. I think you really need to judge the situation in its entirety and not a single action.

For example, I will often stand in front and just to the side of Sam's shoulder and drape both my arms up and over his neck, which naturally places his head to my left side and over my shoulder. As I stroke his neck, I can feel him relax until at some point, his head is over my shoulder, with weight on me.

If I shift my body enough, he raises his head. He is not trying to move me or push me further to the ground. He is just that comfortable.

Same with the leaning. If I lean into him and we are obviously not working, meaning, it's all about comfort and affection, he will lean / brace into me while he enjoys the attention. As soon as I shift, or if I give him a cue to move to the side he immediately responds.

Before judging him as dominant, I would repeat the situation. Then, cue him to move from your personal space. How quickly did he respond? (First, make sure he is awake.)

I cue Sam to move by mimicking my leg on his side by gently nudging him.

I would say, enjoy the idea that your horse is comfortable with you to relax to that state of trust. If at anytime you think he is being too comfortable, cue him to move.
AndreaSctlnd likes this.
    03-13-2012, 02:36 PM
It is natural for horses to lean into pressure. Since you leaned first, she leaned back. I think her putting her neck on you was more a sign of being content and trusting.
AndreaSctlnd likes this.
    03-13-2012, 02:57 PM
A horse laying its head across your (or another horse's) shoulder is a natural behavior, but not a behavior displaying doimance...or affection for that matter.

To a horse your shoulders are your withers. The withers area is a "calming zone" if you will. Horses will lay their heads across or against another horse, or gently nibble or "lip" at the withers area which produces a calming affect. Stallions will often use that calming tactic of facing a mare and stroking her withers as a prelude to swinging around and mounting. You can use it too...gently stroking the withers area can calm down a nervous horse in preparation for mounting - I formed the habit of doing it years ago before I mount as it tends to relax the horse prior to mounting...
    03-13-2012, 03:06 PM
Well that is kind of how I took it too. Because as soon as I stopped leaning or made any movement she immediatly stopped. But I have just read that sometimes this is a dominance thing, so I didn't want to be reinforcing a bad habit.

In all honesty when she had her head on my shoulder/back, it really did feel like a hug.

AQHSam - As I stroke his neck, I can feel him relax until at some point, his head is over my shoulder, with weight on me.

If I shift my body enough, he raises his head. He is not trying to move me or push me further to the ground. He is just that comfortable.

This is exactly how it was. I am glad that she is getting used to me. I go to see her almost every day and love her to pieces. She is a bit stand offish sometimes so this just makes me so happy!


sjwrightauthor likes this.

affection, dominance issues

Quick Reply
Please help keep the Horse Forum enjoyable by reporting rude posts.

Register Now

In order to be able to post messages on the The Horse Forum forums, you must first register.

Already have a Horse Forum account?
Members are allowed only one account per person at the Horse Forum, so if you've made an account here in the past you'll need to continue using that account. Please do not create a new account or you may lose access to the Horse Forum. If you need help recovering your existing account, please Contact Us. We'll be glad to help!

New to the Horse Forum?
Please choose a username you will be satisfied with using for the duration of your membership at the Horse Forum. We do not change members' usernames upon request because that would make it difficult for everyone to keep track of who is who on the forum. For that reason, please do not incorporate your horse's name into your username so that you are not stuck with a username related to a horse you may no longer have some day, or use any other username you may no longer identify with or care for in the future.

User Name:
Please enter a password for your user account. Note that passwords are case-sensitive.
Confirm Password:
Email Address
Please enter a valid email address for yourself.
Email Address:


Human Verification

In order to verify that you are a human and not a spam bot, please enter the answer into the following box below based on the instructions contained in the graphic.

Old Thread Warning
This thread is more than 90 days old. When a thread is this old, it is often better to start a new thread rather than post to it. However, If you feel you have something of value to add to this particular thread, you can do so by checking the box below before submitting your post.

Thread Tools

Similar Threads
Thread Thread Starter Forum Replies Last Post
Horse Dominance Kentucky bluegrass Horse Talk 4 11-05-2011 12:36 PM
My Affection WSArabians Horse Pictures 5 10-04-2009 12:43 PM
Meet Tibby and Affection! WSArabians Horse Pictures 10 05-29-2009 03:10 PM
Asserting dominance wanderlust Horse Training 6 04-03-2009 12:38 AM
Affection or Annoying itch?? southafrica1001 Horse Talk 2 10-20-2008 12:44 PM

All times are GMT -4. The time now is 08:30 AM.

Powered by vBulletin® Version 3.8.5
Copyright ©2000 - 2016, Jelsoft Enterprises Ltd.
Search Engine Friendly URLs by vBSEO 3.6.0