Just for the record, I know nothing about horses. I've never ridden a horse, I've never owned a horse, I've never taken care of a horse. I have 0 experience with horses. I want to learn to ride a horse but it'll be a long time before I can afford lessons.
Okay, on-topic: My question is, can anyone explain the behaviour in the following story?
I was walking past a field today and two horses were standing in the field. I had been walking for a while and I was tired so I thought I'd take a break and watch them graze while I rested and drank some water. I stood by the gate and they both came over to me. The bigger one lifted its head over the gate and sort of sniffed me. I wanted to pet it but it pulled its head away quickly so I retracted my hand. It then lowered its head to the ground by the gate and kind of snorted and then lifted its head up and walked off.
The second slightly smaller one then lifted its head over the gate and put its nose right in my face. I got nervous and took a step back but I know animals can sense fear and I didn't want the horse to get nervous too. It let me pet it on the nose and side of its face before swinging its head up and down, then it lowered its head and pressed its forehead right up against my chest and gave a gentle push, not quite a nudge.
I wanted to complete my journey before it got dark so at this point I decided to resume my walk. As I walked away the bigger one neighed loudly.
I am terrible at reading horse behaviour. I haven't a clue if these horses were irritated, nervous or just plain curious or even playful. Does anybody else have any clue if the horses were irritated by my presence? Maybe that's what the head-swing and head-push was all about? I mean, I don't have any idea, so that's why I'm asking.
I realise it's probably quite hard to tell without having actually been there to see it, but maybe my description offers enough clues to make some educated guesses as to how the horses felt about me? Also, what's the best way to approach a horse? Again, I have no idea about that either.
If there's any more information you need me to add just let me know.