What does rearing mean in horses?

Answered by Robert Flynn

Rearing in horses is a behavior where the horse lifts its front legs off the ground and stands upright on its hind legs. It is a common behavior seen in horses and can have various causes and meanings.

1. Fright or Fear: One of the most common reasons for rearing in horses is fear or a response to a perceived threat. When a horse feels scared or threatened, it may rear as a defensive reaction to try and intimidate or escape from the perceived danger. This can occur when the horse encounters something unfamiliar or when it feels trapped or cornered.

2. Aggression or Dominance: Rearing can also be a display of aggression or dominance, especially in stallions or dominant horses. This behavior is often seen during conflicts with other horses or in situations where the horse is challenging its handler or rider’s authority. In such cases, rearing is a way for the horse to assert its dominance and establish its position in the hierarchy.

3. Excitement or Exuberance: Horses may also rear out of excitement or exuberance, particularly during play or high energy situations. Young horses or horses with a lot of energy may exhibit this behavior as a way to release their pent-up energy or to express their enthusiasm.

4. Disobedience or Resistance: Rearing can be a form of disobedience or resistance when a horse is unwilling or reluctant to perform a certain task or follow a command. It can be a sign of resistance to the rider’s aids or cues, especially if the horse is feeling uncomfortable or in pain.

5. Inexperienced Rider or Poor Training: Rearing can also be a result of poor training or inexperienced handling. If a horse has not been properly trained or if the rider lacks the necessary skills to communicate effectively with the horse, it may resort to rearing as a way to express confusion or frustration.

6. Pain or Discomfort: Physical discomfort or pain can also cause a horse to rear. This can be due to ill-fitting tack, injuries, or underlying health issues. Horses may rear as a way to alleviate pressure or discomfort, or to avoid further pain.

It is important to note that rearing is a dangerous behavior as it puts both the horse and the rider at risk of injury. Therefore, it is crucial to address the underlying cause of the rearing and seek professional assistance if necessary. Proper training, appropriate handling techniques, and addressing any physical issues can help mitigate or eliminate rearing behavior in horses.