Horse Sounds and Noises – What’s Normal?

Horse Sounds and Noises – What’s Normal?

Have you ever wondered about horse sounds and natural noises?

As a horse owner and rider, it is crucial to know what our horses think and feel, and how we care for, train and ride them.

Although horses are incredibly communicative animals, the sounds that horses make can be confusing. When it comes to interpreting horse sounds, some are very simple, and others are more complex.

Similar to humans, what horses say is a combination of body language, sounds, and flexion.

Horses are constantly communicating to express their needs and limitations. But what is normal with all horse sounds? How do we know when to worry?

Fortunately, researchers have spent countless hours observing and documenting horse sounds in order to demystify many of the horse’s communications.

Many of the sounds listed below can have both positive and negative effects. All ‘verbal’ communication with horses can be explained by nonverbal cues.

These conjugations help us understand the full picture of any sound a horse makes.

Let’s start by drawing their seven basic sounds.

What sounds does a horse make?


When a horse snores, it breathes quickly and then exhales by blowing its breath out of its nostrils. It usually indicates excitement and anticipation, such as when you let him out into the pasture, when he sees his friends around, or when you come to a place along the road where you usually have a good enemy.

While you would love to see your horse excited, you should be alert if its head and tail snoring builds up. He may be ready to make a sudden move without even paying attention to you. Make sure you get his attention ASAP.

When riding with friends, be extra careful to get their attention, as their snoring can cause the same excitement as other horses.

The sound of a horse’s thump is the same basic sound that a horse’s grunt makes, but it is more gentle and elongated. One stroke usually means your horse is happy and relaxed.


According to research, a horse’s sigh is the only horse sound that is primarily used around humans. The horse sighs by inhaling deeply and exhaling deeply and audibly.

Sighs are signs that your horse is resting, for example during a massage, grooming, or while relaxing on a lunge. Horses can also sigh from boredom after standing or exercising for an extended period of time.


Moaning is a deep, throaty sound with a deep tone. Some groans escape as shallow grunts, while others merge into deeper moans. There are some horses that are just natural whines.

You may find that your horse feels happy and relaxed, but tends to groan when riding or lunging. On the other hand, grumbling can be an indication of pain or discomfort and possibly deeper medical problems.


A squeak is a high-pitched, short, piercing sound that can be heard from a distance. You may hear your horse make this noise when you are introduced to another horse because it is a test to see if the other horse is respecting their personal space.

Your horse can also squeak if it is bitten or kicked by another horse. During breeding season, squawking is a mare’s way of not paying attention, which is why your mare can be boisterous towards mating and stallions in a stable.


The gesture is a calm, gentle sound that a horse makes with its vocal cords, but with its mouth closed. A horse’s cocky is a friendly expression, often accompanied by forward-pointing ears and an alert look in the eyes indicating anticipation or excitement.

Most of the time, a horse growls when it knows that food is on its way, but also when it recognizes its beloved owner walking towards it. You will also hear your little pony snoring when he roams too far, so there is no doubt that this is the most affectionate bell of a horse.

Although it is usually positive, your horse may also quiver if it feels trapped or threatened, such as when it encounters something sinister along the way. He’ll likely hit his ears back and forth, pull his whole body, and try to escape what’s scary to him.

neighing / neighing

A horse’s squeak is a sound that begins as a squeak, sounds like a trumpet, and then turns into a snooze. Wind consumes more of a horse’s lungs than other sounds and can convey confidence or fear.

The neighing of a horse is the same as neighing, but it is often associated with the most confident and happy neighing. Neighing is a social sound, whether to call friends, to bring breakfast, or to express loneliness or fear of separation from the herd.

The researchers found that a horse’s howl contains two independent frequencies: one frequency indicates either positive or negative feelings, and the other frequency indicates the strength of those feelings.

Positive gruffs are generally shorter and lower in pitch (usually accompanied by a lower head and forward-pointing ears), while negative gruffs are longer and higher, raising the ears back and forth, walking up and down, and even sweating or contracting.


Screaming is a very rare horse sound and resembles a roar. When a horse screams, it is usually fighting another horse. A fight between two horses in a herd can be a battle for supremacy as one of the horses must surrender and surrender before they are ever peaceful again.

Contrary to popular belief, herd dynamics can often change even if no new horses arrive. However, horses that mount regularly may need a screaming fight to the class.

When should I worry?

While all of the above horse sounds are normal to a horse’s daily life, the following should be cause for concern:

Horse roar

If your horse growls or whistles during exercise, you may have a breathing problem called laryngeal hemiplegia. This sound, known as the “bird-horse sound”, is quite distinctive because it is a partial or complete paralysis of the larynx.

The air leaving his lungs does not pass quietly when he exhales because paralysis causes partial obstruction.

If you think your horse is making these unusual noises, your vet may need to run some endoscopic tests. Although there is no cure, recreational horses often pass without much effort. Performance horses may need to undergo surgery to facilitate breathing when paralyzed.


Another sound that could be cause for concern is more subtle. While groans can be the typical sound of many horses, a horse’s groan is often indicative of something deeper.

A groan while riding or lunging could mean he’s experiencing pain or discomfort from a poor saddle, a rider that’s too heavy, a new source of pain, or internal lameness.

A horse can also groan when it has digestive issues, such as: If your horse is moaning more than usual, or changes the way it groans, contact your vet to see if something deeper is going on.

How to master horse sounds and noises

Knowing the nature and range of horse sounds is a great starting point for learning how your horse communicates. Aside from knowledge, the best way to learn about the sounds and noises of your horse is to observe them as best you can. Notice when it makes sounds and when it doesn’t.

Soon you will know better than anyone when your horse is anxious or in pain and when he is perfectly happy and healthy.

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