Why Does A Horse Paw At The Ground? (Correct answer)

Usually, when a horse consistently digs or paws at the floor or ground with its front feet, the behavior stems from boredom, frustration, or impatience. Some horses become so engaged in pawing that they seem to lose touch with their environment.

Why do horses have hooves instead of paws?

  • Ancient horses moved relatively slowly with a small body,short legs and 3 toes
  • Its new exposed environment may have forced the horse to develop longer legs
  • This allowed it to run from predators and become larger to make it harder to eat

What does it mean when my horse is pawing the ground?

Pawing is the arching action of your horse’s foreleg which strikes the ground. Most often, pawing that is unusually aggressive or highly repetitive could be a sign of something more sinister, such as stomach pain caused by colic.

How do you tell if a horse trusts you?

When a horse trusts you, they should exhibit relaxed body language. Horses Trust You When They’re At Ease Around You

  1. Their bottom lip is tight.
  2. Their nostrils are tense.
  3. Their tail is moving quickly or not at all.
  4. Their ears are pinned back on their head, or alert and facing you.

How do you tell if a horse likes you?

Here are 8 Signs a Horse Likes and Trusts You

  1. They Come Up to Greet You.
  2. They Nicker or Whinny For You.
  3. They Rest Their Head on You.
  4. They Nudge You.
  5. They Are Relaxed Around You.
  6. They Groom You Back.
  7. They Show You Respect.
  8. They Breathe on Your Face.

What does it mean when a horse taps its foot?

Stomping. Horses stomp to indicate irritation. Usually, it’s something minor, such as a fly they’re trying to dislodge. However, stomping may also indicate your horse is frustrated with something you are doing, and if you don’t address it, he may resort to stronger signals.

How do you stop a horse from fidgeting?

In cases where fidgeting has become a habit, you may need to release some of his energy by repeatedly disengaging his hind end. This involves stepping your horse’s hind legs across one another using one rein only. This manages the fidgeting and, over time, helps solve the problem.

Where should you not touch a horse?

Some horses like their faces, ears, and even the area at the top behind of their front legs (think horse armpits) scratched. Some really do not want you to touch them in these places.

Do horses like hugs?

Sharing body contact is one of the main ways horses share affection. Since horses don’t have hands to hold or arms to give hugs, gentle leans and even “neck hugs” express their love.

Why shouldn’t you look a horse in the eye?

Never look a horse in the eye This common misconception comes from a very basic and old idea that horses are prey animals and because of that fact, they cannot tolerate the peering eyes of a predator. Horses can easily tell the difference between a predator looking to eat and predator looking in curiosity and wonder.

Where do horses like to be petted?

4- Many horses like to be rubbed on the neck, shoulder, hip, or on the chest. Some horses enjoy having their heads and ears rubbed. Horses often groom each other on the whither, so this would be a good place to try too. 6- If your horse does not want to be pet or moves away, do not be upset.

What does it mean when a horse keeps nodding its head?

Horses nod their heads as a signal of energy, excitement, or irritation. They also nod when bothered by ear infections and insects. Horses that lower and raise their heads in a calm, controlled manner may be showing a sign of submission to convey a simple hello.

How do you tell if a horse doesn’t like you?

Common Displayed Behaviors:

  1. dragging you to a patch of grass in order to graze.
  2. refusing to walk any faster when being led.
  3. jerking their head up when you ask them to lower it.
  4. not picking up their feet when asked.
  5. refusing to go forward.
  6. pulling back on the lead rope when tied.
  7. refusing to move over as you groom them.

Pawing in Horses – Symptoms, Causes, Diagnosis, Treatment, Recovery, Management, Cost

This occurred around 2 months ago. Everything appeared to be as usual. As soon as I get Tarzan (my horse) out of his paddock for a groom and back into his paddock for Oaten Hay, I go for a walk to the water tank to check out the little fishies I have in there, and Tarzan (my horse) always comes running to the tank to drink and then we stand around, and today I gave him a couple pieces of carrot because he hadn’t gotten any the previous two days. because I completely forgot! Then I noticed Ian, the owner of another horse in the next paddock, who also owned Sledge, the horse in one of the neighbouring paddocks, so I started walking towards the corner of the paddock where Ian stood, which is where four paddocks intersect.

But then Tarzan comes galloping towards me (it is downhill), and I prefer if he walks and munches as we walk.

Our cheerios rang out.

However, today he was out of the ordinary.

  • He was walking on my left side, and I was watching him to make sure he didn’t shove me in the rear while walking quite close.
  • I had no idea what that was!, As a result, I moved away from the fence and rubbed the area on my arm and leg where the wire had caught me.
  • I remained still, but he proceeded to go around me in a circle.
  • Afterwards, he made another round around me, walked a short distance away (approximately 4 meters), tossed his head, and kicked up his rear legs in the direction of me.
  • Then he’ll kick his rear legs out from under him.
  • I took a glance around the pasture to see where I was and where the nearest escape was.
  • So I started walking slowly to the corner where the four paddocks came together, picking grass as I went, and encouraging him to just walk with me, handing him chosen grass, and he eventually stopped munching on the grass.

All the while, I’m getting closer and closer to a secure fence line to protect myself.

When I got to the next field, I went along the fence line, up around the top and into the next paddock, Tarzan trailing after me, grazing at first, then sprinting to catch up with me.

I’m at the top of the field, getting close to his water tank, when he came to a halt and munched for a few minutes in the meanwhile.

Afterwards, he came up to me at the water tank (I was still in the other paddock) and I offered him another handful of grass from my hand.

That’s where I left him when I left him.

I have absolutely no notion.

Following his conversation with Ian, his entire demeanor changed.

He has the ability to harm me if he so chooses.

I’ve seen this, and he’s been doing it for the whole time I’ve had him with me.

He will come up with me, but will then cut me off, causing me to have to abandon my stroll.

So, to provide a clear image, imagine that I’m strolling down the fence line, heading towards the entrance.

In certain cases, there is enough space for me to wait until he looks up, after which I will go along the fence line in front of his face in order to continue traveling in the direction that I was traveling in.

I have to admit that the pawing at my legs and the circling about me made me feel quite uncomfortable.

the kicking up of his rear legs in the direction of me Do you have any clue what he was up to at that time? Thank you for taking the time to read this and for your opinions. Thank you for your time. Daniella

5 Steps to Stop Your Horse From Pawing

A couple of months earlier, something similar happened. The situation remained the same as before. As soon as I get Tarzan (my horse) out of his paddock for a groom and back into his paddock for Oaten Hay, I go for a walk to the water tank to check out the little fishies I have in there, and Tarzan (my horse) always comes running to the tank to drink and then we stand around, and today I gave him a couple pieces of carrot because he hadn’t had any for the previous two days. I forgot about it, you see!

  1. Besides the water tank, I urged Tarzan to accompany me, primarily because I didn’t want to go halfway there without him.
  2. I had an about 20-minute conversation with Ian, which was satisfactory.
  3. in which case I began walking down the fence line toward the exit of Tarzan’s paddock Tarzan will simply walk with me, like I’ve done countless times before.
  4. He was walking on my left side, and I was watching to make sure he didn’t push me in the back since he was walking really, really close, when I caught a glimpse of his right front leg coming up high as if to strike me, he did it again, I screamed hello, and it really pushed me into the fence.
  5. The fact is, I had no idea!
  6. In the background, Tarzan was snorting hysterically.
  7. Then he performed the same thing with his leg in my direction again, and I just replied “Whoa.” My hand went up in the air like a stop signal once again as I yelled “Whoa” (that he knows).

As a result, I now understand that, had he desired, he could have done so by moving in closer or by reversing direction towards me.

When I heard that, I exclaimed “Whoa” and made the motion of my hand sign for stop.

So that was out since it was the closest thing.

There are a few more I’d want to have.

finally got there and sank beneath the surface When I got to the second field, I went along the fence line, up around the top and into the next paddock, Tarzan trailing after me, grazing at first, then sprinting to catch up with me.

I’m at the top of the paddock, coming near to his water tank, when he came to a halt and munched for a few moments.

He followed me almost all the way out of the pasture I was in before stopping and munching.

His pawing at me was completely beyond my comprehension.

His previous actions were unprecedented.

This is something I’m still having trouble understanding.

He’s a massive beast of burden.

as well as when I am about to walk out the door.

I’ll then have to choose between going around him or waiting for a chance to maneuver in front of his face to avoid him.

Then he’ll come up on my right side, cut in front of me, and instantly start chewing on the grass at my feet, causing me to stop walking.

the next time he sees me he’ll do it again, and occasionally he’ll continue in this manner all the way to the exit; other times, he’ll simply turn around and munch before continuing in the opposite direction.

This pawing at my legs and this swirling about me made me feel quite uncomfortable. the movement of his back legs towards the direction of me Is it possible that you know what he was up to? Thank you for taking the time to read this and for your consideration. Please accept my best wishes Daniella

  • Equine stress or disruptions
  • Foot concerns such as soreness or injury
  • Distressing ground conditions
  • Nearby activities that are disruptive to the horse
  • And other factors. An insufficient amount of space that generates dissatisfaction
  • There is a sense of boredom and a need for action or attention.

When your horse is pawing, pay close attention to when it begins and ends the action, as well as any variations in the pawing, such as more exaggerated movements or harder kicks, and make note of them. Once you have discovered the reason for the horse’s pawing, you may take steps to discourage the horse from pawing excessively in the future. Prevent your horse from pawing at you. Depending on the reason for your horse’s agitation, there are numerous approaches that may be used to assist stop it from pawing.

  • Change the environment’s conditions. Many horses paw because something nearby is causing them discomfort, and if you eliminate the source of the discomfort, the activity will cease. Worry can be caused by anything from something as basic as an uneven board in the horse’s stall to something more complex such as a view of activities in which the horse is interested, and moving their stall could alleviate that anxiety. Pay attention to the horse’s stance. Foot or limb pain, poor posture, and uneven terrain are all factors that might cause an unhappy horse to paw. Take note of the manner in which the horse stands when pawing, as well as the condition of its legs, feet, and hooves for any symptoms of bruises, swelling, or infections that may be causing it distress. Alternatively, if the ground is uneven, boards or bedding can be placed on top to make the space more pleasant for standing. Make use of Reward Training. Many horses begin pawing when they want your attention, and if you quickly approach a pawing horse, they will assume they have learned you a trick and will attempt to control you with pawing and kicking. Instead, ignore the horse while it begins pawing, but pay close attention to the horse after it stops pawing. If you give your horse prizes for ceasing pawing, such as food or attention, he or she will quickly learn what behavior is acceptable and what is not
  • Maintain Your Positive Attitude Maintaining your horse’s calmness requires patience, and yelling or otherwise punishing your horse for pawing will only build tension and irritation for both you and your horse, which will in turn escalate the horse’s pawing habit. Maintain a cheerful attitude and praise positive conduct rather than addressing negative behavior, and the pawing should subside.
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When you understand why your horse is pawing and take the necessary actions to reduce the behavior, you can stop the pawing habit in their tracks.

My horse is pawing at the ground. What should I do?

There are a variety of reasons why your horse may paw at the ground, including boredom, impatience, playfulness, or discomfort. Pawing at the ground, on the other hand, is a typical indicator of colic in babies. Please contact your veterinarian as soon as possible if this behavior is out of character for your horse. Pawing at the ground is a very frequent behavior in horses, particularly at feeding times, when your horse may be feeling impatient with you. There are several occasions, such as these, in which pawing should not be a reason for concern.

Pawing is the arching motion of your horse’s foreleg as it makes contact with the surface of the ground.

Colic can manifest itself in a variety of ways in different horses.

The following are the most prevalent indicators of colic:

  • Boredom, irritation, playfulness, and discomfort are all possible causes for your horse to paw at the ground at any time. Plucking at the ground, on the other hand, is an often-found symptom of colic. Please contact your veterinarian right once if this behavior is out of the ordinary for your horse. Pawing at the ground is a very frequent behavior in horses, especially at feeding times, when your horse may be feeling impatient with you. This is one of many cases in which pawing should not be interpreted as an indication of something wrong with you. Understanding when this type of behavior indicates that someone is in pain is critical. Pawing is the action of your horse’s foreleg striking the ground in an arching motion. Most of the time, excessive pawing that is extremely forceful or very repetitive might be an indication of something more dangerous, such as stomach pain caused by colic. When a horse is suffering from colic, some will display a number of frequent behaviors, but others will show no visible signs at all. The following are the most often observed indications of colic:

Taking your horse’s vitals is the most straightforward technique to identify whether or not pawing is an indication of pain. Pulse rate, respiration rate, and rectal temperature are all measures of your horse’s health. You should take these measurements on a regular basis so that you are aware of what is typical and abnormal for your horse’s health. When an emergency occurs, such as when colic occurs, you should have a copy of these vitals on hand so that you can recognize if there is a difference right away.

Do you want to find out more about the health of your horse?


Horses paw at the ground on a regular basis and for extended lengths of time. However, when a horse participates in pawing behavior repeatedly and for extended periods of time, it is classified as a stereotypie. When a horse digs or paws at the floor or ground with its front feet on a frequent basis, it is usually because the horse is bored, frustrated, or impatient. Some horses become so engrossed in their pawing that they appear to lose contact with the rest of their surroundings. When the pawing has progressed to this stage, it has become a deeply established habit that will be difficult to eradicate.

Unfortunately, recurrent episodes of pawing result in irregular hoof and shoe wear in the dog’s feet.

Some horses paw so often that their shoes fall off, which has the potential to inflict harm to tendons, ligaments, and bones, as well as devastation to their surroundings and injury to other animals.


  • Horse paws at the ground, the floor of the stall, or other components of the surroundings with its front feet. It is possible to combine pawing with other physical indicators of needing to be noticed, such as pawing at an empty feeding dish or an empty water pail. Inadequate performance as a result of lost energy
  • Pawing can be employed as a dominance display towards handlers or other horses
  • Nevertheless, it is not recommended.


Pawing actions can be triggered by a variety of emotions like as boredom, annoyance, impatience, hunger, surplus energy, isolation, and mimicking of other horses. The urge for physical exercise or mobility may become more acute in horses who are confining them to stalls or restricted areas for a long period of time. Pawing may be used as an outlet for this demand for movement or activity. Leaving some horses behind while others are out and engaged in labor or exercise activities might cause them to grow dissatisfied.

Pawing may also be seen as a horse’s demand for attention or a display of dominance in relation to the handler or other horses.


The greatest way to prevent stereotypies such as pawing is to be aware of what a horse needs and to maintain appropriate stable management. An increase in daily exercise, more turn-out time in a paddock or pasture, and consistent management of feeding and exercise times are all effective methods of preventing or controlling stereotypy in horses. If implemented early enough, however, it is possible to prevent stereotypy from becoming a habit.


The first step in ending pawing behavior is to increase the amount of exercise being done to burn off excess energy. This should be accompanied with strong stable management. For this reason, offering the horse as much pasture or field time as possible can allow him to participate in grazing activities, connect with other horses, and assist reduce boredom and irritation. Scheduling feeding times more frequently than twice a day is generally beneficial. If a horse has a well-established stable stereotypy as well as other neurotic tendencies, it may take some time until the symptoms subside or disappear completely.

Reasons That a Horse Paws the Ground

Image courtesy of John Foxx/Stockbyte/Getty Images Anyone who has spent a significant amount of time with horses, whether thoroughbreds, Arabians, or any other breed, has undoubtedly observed one of them pawing at the ground. The act of a horse elevating one of his front hoof and pushing it into the ground repeatedly is known as pawing at the ground. This is not a random display of body language; it is a method of communicating.

‘I’m Frustrated’

Grasping at the ground might indicate that a horse is frustrated, according to the website Extension.org. The possibility exists that he is feeling restless and wants to communicate with you that he needs something done quickly. This horse is most likely just tired of being in the same place.

‘I’m Scared’ or ‘I’m Nervous’

When horses are feeling anxious or worried, they will regularly paw the ground to express their feelings. Possibly, the horse feels agitated or nervous with the unexpected appearance of another horse that he is unfamiliar with, and he is showing this by using his body language to communicate.

‘I Can’t Wait’

Pawing the ground can also be seen as a gesture of eagerness.

The moment has arrived for you to visit your cherished horse and provide him with some fresh, little green apple slices from your garden. It’s possible that your horse is anxious to get his hands on that delicious fruit, and he’s showing his excitement by pawing at the ground.

‘I Don’t Feel Well’

In certain cases, the pawing of your horse signals that he is not feeling well. It can be a sign of colic in some cases. If your horse continues to paw the ground while also exhibiting other indicators of that digestive condition, he may require quick veterinarian care. Other signs and symptoms to look out for include belly kicking, loss of appetite, frequent rolling over, sadness, and difficulty passing stools, among others. Horses suffering from colic are often known to look down at their stomach areas.

‘I’m Thirsty’

Horses will occasionally paw at the ground in order to fracture ice. If your horse paws at an icy surface, he may be attempting to retrieve water, so keep an eye out for him. The poor creature is most likely thirsty.

‘I’m Curious’

Pawing the ground might signify anything from mere curiosity to a more serious issue. If your horse is in a new area, he may paw the ground as a method of investigating all of the newness that is surrounding him. If your horse is in a familiar setting, he may not paw the ground. References Photographic Credits

Why Do Horses Paw?

In the horse’s world, pawing is an indicator that things is not quite right. It is a form of body language that expresses either 1) mental tension or 2) physical discomfort, which can range from excitement over a treat to severe ulcers. Pawing can be triggered by a variety of emotions such as pain, boredom, annoyance, impatience, worry, hunger, excess energy, and solitude. The source of the horse’s emotional stress and/or physical discomfort must be recognized and rectified before pawing may become a stereotypy or a habit, which presents a whole new set of issues for both the horse and the guardian in the future.

These creatures lack the cerebral capacity to consider and carry out activities that are designed to be irritating.

Pawing with a Purpose

Pawing can have a function – it should be regarded natural if there is an aphysical reason for it, such as: defending oneself from predators.

  • Splashing in water
  • Exposing foraging under snow
  • And other activities Investigating a new or unfamiliar item
  • Preparing the earth before rolling or laying down on it. Creating a water hole in the ground
  • Removing roots from the ground

Pawing to Communicate Physical Discomfort or Mental Stress

Pawing that is not directed at something might be an indicator of bodily discomfort or mental stress. Pawing is widely regarded as a common physical mode of communication, and it is generally accepted as a common activity. We frequently ignore it or find it irritating, and we admonish our horses when they paw at our feet. Either answer misses the underlying problem. In fact, scolding may have the opposite effect of alleviating tension. Horses are expressive and powerful communicators, provided we pay attention and listen to what they say.

My guess is that we are significantly more sensitive to their vocal emotions than they are to our own voice.

Physical Discomfort – Possible Root Causes

You might be shocked to discover about the many different types of discomfort that can be transmitted through pawing – many of which are tied to food and confinement. For horses, forage and mobility are extremely important, both physically and psychologically. 1. Ulcers in the stomach and hindgut can be excruciatingly painful. Equines manufacture stomach acid (hydrochloric acid) 24 hours a day, seven days a week in preparation for continuous food intake. A shortage of forage, acidic pH in the digestive system, and stress are the most prevalent causes of ulcers.

  • (It should be noted that forage buffers stomach acid.) An ulcer is a sluggish or non-healing stomach acid burn that feels like hydrochloric acid has been sprayed on your face, which is quite uncomfortable.
  • The Ulcer in the Gastric Mucosa 2.
  • Christina L.
  • In addition, a large number of them attempted to stand with their hind legs in the hole they had formed.
  • Sherry.
  • This study revealed that the majority of pawing happened four hours after the exercise session, which suggests that exercising on an empty stomach might have been an essential component.

3. Colicis is another type of stomach pain that can range from mild to severe in severity and can result in pawing. It can be caused by anything from gas to impaction.

  • You might be shocked to discover about the many different types of discomfort that can be transmitted by pawing, many of which are tied to food and confinement. In both physical and mental terms, forage and activity are extremely important to horses’ lives. One of the most unpleasant symptoms of gastric and hindgut ulcers is nausea. To prepare for continual meal intake, equines manufacture stomach acid (hydrochloric acid) around the clock, 24 hours a day. A shortage of fodder, acidic pH in the digestive system, and stress are the most prevalent causes of ulcers. These factors combine to create a formula for ulcers that is self-sustaining. Notice that forage is a stomach acid buffer. An ulcer is a sluggish or non-healing stomach acid burn that feels like hydrochloric acid has been thrown on your face, which is very uncomfortable and unpleasant. The acids can harm the tissue to the point that they develop an ulcer that is deep enough to cause bleeding or even burn entirely through the tissue if the acid is applied repeatedly. The Ulcer of the Gastrinum 1. Back pain. 2. Orthopedic discomfort. When Christina L. Butler and Katherine Albro Houpt studied 41 Standardbred horses at Cornell University, they observed that the horses pawed more in the four hours following exercise compared to the four hours prior to exercise. In addition, a large number of them attempted to stand with their hind legs in the hole they had formed. As Houpt explains, “getting the rear legs in a lower posture helps remove weight off the front legs, which might be a symptom of pain in the front legs, particularly after an exercise.” It appears to be an instinctively taught, repeated activity that may represent an attempt to relieve discomfort in the limbs or abdomen, according to Dr. Sheldon. Strangely enough, the researchers noted, the least amount of pawing took place on Sunday afternoons, when the horses were not ridden. This study revealed that the majority of pawing happened four hours after the exercise session, which suggests that exercising on an empty stomach may have been an essential component. Unbuffered gastric acid can splash around and saturate the stomach lining when you exercise on an empty stomach. This can be very uncomfortable. The third type of stomach pain is colici, which can be caused by anything from gas to impaction and can cause mild to severe discomfort – as well as pawing at the abdomen.
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​Mental Stress – Possible Root Causes

1. Boredom- Boredom is described as the state of being exhausted due to the fact that one is unoccupied or has lost interest in one’s present occupation. Horses should be given the chance to participate in a range of activities in order to keep themselves active and to activate their natural impulses. Their actions in the natural world include the following:

  • Periods of walking and grazing
  • Interaction with herd members
  • And periods of rest

It’s rather straightforward, however it does keep them engaged for the first 20 to 21 hours of their waking period. During a 24-hour period, horses sleep just 3 to 4 hours at a time, and they seldom sleep for more than 20 minutes at a time. In contrast, confinement and isolation may produce anxiety-related tension, vices, and boredom in horses – especially when they restrict the horse’s natural inclinations and allow him to get bored. Check out our suggestions for offering natural enrichment to your horse during his quiet time.

  1. It is common for them to feel increasingly apprehensive as the day of an anticipated activity draws near.
  2. When it comes to meal time, some horses paw or get agitated.
  3. They are eager to self-medicate in order to relieve their symptoms.
  4. Chewing stimulates the production of saliva (bicarbonate), which neutralizes stomach acid and can give temporary relief from heartburn.
  5. Three, a horse’s ability to physically dissipate pent-up energy decreases as the horse’s confinement increases.
  6. Take steps to ensure that your horse gets regular exercise and turnout in order to reduce pent-up energy and prevent harm to themselves and the facility in which they are kept.

Pawing: Potential Stereotypy

Pawing has the potential to become habitual, leading to the development of a stereotypical behavior. According to Wikipedia, a stereotypy is a term that refers to a collection of phenotypic behaviors that are repeated, physically similar, and that provide no evident purpose or function. Because these behaviors only manifest themselves in animals subjected to barren environments, scheduled or restricted feedings, social deprivation and other forms of frustration and do not manifest themselves in ‘normal’ animals in their natural environments, these behaviors have been labeled as “abnormal.” With the development of stereotypies, they become more easily triggered, to the point where they are no longer limited to being exhibited in the context of the original circumstances, but may even be displayed in the absence of any apparent stress or conflict.

As a result of the development of the stereotypy into a habit, as well as the difficulty in halting this habit, it is reasonable to predict that the frequency of stereotypies will rise with age. Despite efforts to create a more enriched environment, stereotypies are frequently found to remain.

Simple Solutions

This page contains hyperlinks that will take you to full and detailed answers that are organized according to the topic matter covered. The underlying reason of pawing may frequently be found, for example, as follows:

  • When a horse is tethered, boredom sets in
  • However, this may be readily solved by providing a hay bag. If you were confined or faced with the prospect of stomach discomfort as a consequence of gastric acid soaking the stomach lining if you rode or traveled on an empty stomach, you would rapidly become bored. When you offer goodies, try to vary the frequency with which they are given. For example, if you give them one when you first arrive at the stable, wait until you have placed the halter on and taken them out to give them another. Next time, wait until after your ride to make a decision. You will not be putting your horse in a stressful situation.

Misconstrued Perceptions

During a conversation with one of our wonderful clients, she shared with me that her horse paws at the pasture gate (which has plenty of grass) every day at 4:00 pm, signaling that it is time to be put away in the barn for the night. I inquired as to whether the horse was fed grain when he went into his stall, and she confirmed that he was. She assumed he pawed because he was looking forward to being in his stall for the night. I am 99 percent positive that he was only looking for his food, and that if given the option, he would have preferred to be in the pasture instead.

  • Horses are prey animals that rely on their senses of sight, hearing, scent, and flight in order to identify and run from imagined threats.
  • Our role as guardians is to create the least stressful and most fulfilling environment possible, despite the fact that our animals have been domesticated.
  • Irrespective of how frequently or intensely the problem occurs, understanding the fundamental cause and adopting treatments as soon as possible is in your horse’s best advantage.
  • Horses who are happier and healthier have a few basic criteria.

​Hear About $ales, Nutrition TipsGiveaways

Sign up for our monthly email to be the first to know about freebies, specials, and the latest equine health and nutrition info to help your horses live longer, healthier lives. a little about the author: Owner of Hay Pillow Inc. and inventor of the Hay Pillow® slow feeder, Monique Warren is the woman behind the invention. Warren has worked as an equine guardian for more than forty years and as a proponent of slow-feeding for more than ten years. The Naturally Healthy Horse, Natural Horse Magazine, Nicker News, Horse Back Magazine, The Horse’s Hoof, and Miniature Horse World Magazine are just a few of the magazines to which she publishes equine nutrition and digestive and hoof health articles.

She currently resides in the state of California.

  • Larson, Erica, 22 August 2011 (online). What to Consider When Treating Chronic Colic in Horses. Nash (2015) published a paper on the 22nd of June, 2015. Ulcers of the stomach in connection to Muscular discomfort. McDonnell, Sue PhD, Certified AAB, retrieved on February 1, 2008 from the website. There is a pawing problem. Christa MA (Christa MA, 2015, February 21) was the source of this information. Pawing Could Be a Sign of Discomfort, According to a New Study The information was obtained from Equimed Staff on August 5, 2014. DISEASES AND CONDITIONS ARE DEFINED AS Pawing. Williams, Jennifer PhD., retrieved from the website. The most recent revision was made on July 13, 2018. How to Interpret the Body Language of Your Horse CherryHill. 2009. Retrieved from CherryHill. Horse pawing at the ground. The information was obtained from Wikipedia on June 19, 2019. Stereotyping is a form of discrimination (non-human). This information was obtained from

5 Tips To Stop Pawing

Pawing may be a bothersome habit — one that can make you irritable and even irritable. It can occasionally be induced by boredom or fun, but it can also be provoked by impatience, worry, annoyance, or stress just as frequently. Prior to addressing the problem, you should attempt to establish the source of the problem.

Knowing the reason for a horse’s pawing will help you choose the best method to take when dealing with it. As an illustration, punishing a frightened horse for pawing will almost always result in him being much more anxious, long before the pawing has truly stopped.

1 Ignore the pawing

Sometimes it’s best to just ignore the problem and let the horse figure it out on his own. If you pick this strategy, it is simple to put into action. Secure your horse in a secure location and let him to stand. If he enjoys pawing the ground, it is not unusual for him to begin pawing the ground quite quickly. Don’t pay attention to it. Go ahead and untie him when his feet are silent. If your horse is pawing for attention, this strategy is extremely beneficial. A horse, like a toddler, will frequently try to get someone’s attention.

  1. It is OK for this horse to be scolded, get minor punishment, be jerked on the lead line, or be tapped with the whip.
  2. The majority of horses pick up on this pattern by mistake in their stalls around feeding time.
  3. They are anxious for their own meal, and an impatient horse is one who is always moving.
  4. As time progresses, this is extended to other sites, such as a hitching rail.
  5. You can feed him if he is calm for a while.

2 Rocking the horse

In the cross ties or at the hitching rail, if your horse starts pawing at you while you are brushing him, do what I call “rocking the horse.” Horses do not enjoy being thrown off their equilibrium. Horses are notoriously unsteady on their hindquarters, and it is quite easy to throw them off their balance when they paw. I employ one of two approaches. Initially, softly press against the horse along his rib cage or shoulder until he is forced to take a stride is the first step. It is preferable to utilize two or three mild shoves rather than one large one when moving heavy objects.

After that, I commend him on his efforts.

In order to rock the horse back and forth, I place my hand on his wither and rock him back and forth.

Once again, when the horse puts the bothersome leg down, I shower him with compliments on his performance.

3 Food reward

There are two stages to the food reward process. To begin, you must teach the horse about food incentives and establish a relationship between them and a vocal instruction or compliment. I frequently use straightforward phrases such as “good boy” or “excellent girl.” This will only work if you are patient and wait until the right moment. Starting with a specific posture, I educate the horse how to accept a food reward (see “Treats vs. rewards,” Equine Wellness, V5I2), and then I teach him how to accept it from a different position.

  1. If the horse attempts to reach for the prize, I keep it until I am able to convince him to take the reward from the position I desire.
  2. When the horse accepts the treat, I frequently remark “good boy” or “good girl” to encourage him or her.
  3. As a result, the horse comes to recognize that when he hears the words “good boy,” he has done something right in his eyes.
  4. Place the horse in a tying position (cross ties or hitching rail) and continue with your day’s activities as normal.
  5. Naturally, the horse will first believe he has received the incentive because he was pawing at the ground seconds before.
  6. The best technique to provide a random reward for the horse is to quickly remark “good boy,” but wait longer before giving him the food.
  7. If your horse starts pawing before you can give him the reward, simply wait until he stops and then try again.
  8. Instantaneously, you say “good boy” or “good girl,” and you hand up the award straight away.
  9. He paws at the ground once more and then pauses.
  10. You may try waiting 15 to 20 seconds between the verbal “good boy” or “good girl” and the awarding of the prize the next time.

Eventually, the horse is able to stand for longer and longer periods of time without needing to be fed. Remember, if your horse begins to paw at you as you are about to give him the reward, remove the gift from his mouth and return to what you were doing.

4 Approach and retreat

This is a straightforward strategy that typically necessitates the use of a good book. If your horse has shown to be a “pawer,” lead him to the hitching post and tie him up. Go ahead and take a seat approximately 30 feet away from the horse, somewhat to the side and rear of it. Please leave him alone. He will almost certainly begin to paw at some point. Take out your book and start reading. Relax, and keep an eye on your horse to make sure he doesn’t get himself into any difficulties. As soon as your horse’s pawing ceases (which it will, if only for a few while), rise to your feet and begin advancing towards him.

  1. Turn around and take a seat somewhere else till the pawing ceases.
  2. Just hold just a minute.
  3. Keep an eye on the clouds.
  4. Immediately turn around and wait for him to cease pawing at your legs.
  5. When he comes to a complete halt, turn around and begin approaching him again.
  6. If he begins to paw at you again, walk away.
  7. A few sessions of approach and retreat are generally sufficient for the horse to understand that calm feet will bring you closer to him, while pawing feet will send you away.
  8. Patience pays off; pawing feet are denied nourishment (or so the horse will think).

5 Tapping with a whip

Despite the fact that this strategy may be effective, I do not use it and recommend that you do not as well. This practice frequently makes horses worse or creates additional anxiety issues, especially when the horse is pawing as a result of stress or excitement. Although I don’t claim that it always works, it is possible that some individuals have had success with it. However, it is impossible to explain all of the factors, as well as the appropriate level of power, in a single article. Unless you know someone who can instruct you exactly what to do, I’d advise you to stay away from this situation.

Scot Hansen is a natural horseman and a veteran mounted police officer who has trained both riders and horses to work the streets of New York City and elsewhere.

He has a thorough understanding of how horses think and learn, and he provides professional instruction and workshops in Thinking Horsemanship and other topics for both adult riders and child riders, as well as for their horses.

HorseThink.com. Call 425-830-6260 or send an e-mail to [email protected] to inquire about organizing a clinic in your region.


When your horse paws or digs with their front feet, it’s possible that they’re attempting to communicate with you. Attempting to grab your attention, communicating sentiments of frustration or impatience, or even attempting to alleviate pain are all possible outcomes. The majority of the time, this typical and natural activity is harmless, yet it might cause injuries or property damage. What Causes Horses to Paw or Dig Horses use their front feet to clear away snow in order to obtain food throughout the winter.

  • The pawing of your horse may indicate that they are anticipating their feed, and this behavior may be encouraged if it is promptly followed by food.
  • They may dig holes in order to keep themselves engaged or to relieve tension.
  • Horses appear to paw as a means of relieving orthopedic discomfort, which is a lesser-known fact.
  • In the event that your horse suddenly begins pawing, it might be an indication of severe belly discomfort caused by a colic-agastric ulcer.
  • Instructions on How to Stop Your Horse From Pawing Pawing may be an annoyance at the best of times, and at the worst of times, it can result in stall damage, holes in your property, shoe wear or loss, and harm to the joints, bones, or tendons of your horse.
  • It may be beneficial to feed more regularly in order to reduce pawing in anticipation of feeding.
  • In addition, training may assist regulate pawing, which is especially important if your horse does it while waiting to be fed or while attempting to catch your attention when he or she is tethered.
  • Wait till they have calmed down before feeding them or untying them.
  • The act of scolding or even attempting to divert your horse may serve to reinforce the undesirable behavior if your horse is only attempting to obtain your attention.
See also:  When Is It Too Cold To Ride A Horse? (Solution)

This Is How To Stop Your Horse From Pawing At The Ground

An aggressive horse may be quite damaging. As they dig into the dirt with their hooves, they may cause significant damage to stalls, barn aisles, and arenas.

If this behavior is not rectified from the start, it has the potential to become ingrained in the individual. Find out what is causing your horse to behave in this manner and how to correct it to get to the root of the problem.

Three Reasons for Why Your Horse Paws

1.Emotional pawing: Horses who are bored or frustrated are known to paw emotionally. Simply being confined and unable to stand for an extended period of time might cause this. During training sessions, a disoriented horse may claw at the ground. 2.Knowledge:This is a difficult paw to train. Your horse has learnt that when he behaves in this manner, he will receive what he desires. It’s possible that he paws at the table during feeding time, and you reward him with grain. 3.Investigative: Your horse’s attention has been drawn to something fresh and fascinating.

He’s making an effort to figure things out.

How to Stop Your Horse From Pawing

Whether your horse paws is determined by the sort of pawing he does. First and foremost, you must determine why he is behaving in this manner. If his pawing is emotional in nature, attempt to give him a treat for remaining patient. It’s necessary to retrain any dogs who have learnt to paw in order to obtain what they desire. Make your horse stand still and patiently before you feed him any food. Never make the mistake of rewarding bad conduct by caving in. Finally, individuals who are doing the investigation should be let to experience the new location or item within reasonable limits.

Consider watching and learning from this video, which provides an in-depth training discussion on the reasons why horses paw and how to prevent it: Using Horse Punishment and Reward Techniques Poor horsemanship is characterized by the following five behaviors.

Why Do Horses Paw Water?

I’m annoyed by my horse’s habit of standing at the water troughs and spilling water. Variations of this line will be found all over the internet, including discussion forums and social media platforms. The term can refer to a bucket in the stable, a puddle of water, or even crossing a river or other water source. It certainly isn’t a habit, and it should never be construed as a source of irritation. When such an incidence occurs, owners may find that their horses’ stables are soaked to the skin, but I would guess that the horse standing in a box is feeling considerably more agitated than the owner.

When a horse prepares to roll, he makes a similar action to when he lightly paws the earth of his paddock before rolling.

Horses will often circle the desired rollspot while also sniffing the ground before committing to actually lying down on there.

It is common for the horse to completely drop to their knees before changing their mind and starting the same process over again, including pawing, sniffing, turning, pawing, and re-entering the arena.

Although we know that horses evolved to consume primarily grass, the grass plains on which these early horses grazed 10 million years ago are vastly different from the artificial pastures on which they presently graze.

Horses developed to have the characteristics we see today as a result of the spread of grass plains caused by a changing environment.

Nonetheless, they share a characteristic in that they both had extensive tracts of dense vegetation, such as tall grass or trees and bushes, covering the terrain on which they lived.

In addition, horses must lie down in order to give birth, roll in order to eliminate irritants such as parasites and weeds, and cool themselves in water to maintain their health.

Mother Nature, on the other hand, insists on a delicate balance; after all, the predators must feed as well.

Although the animal is physiologically capable of recognizing a predator from a long distance, he will be unable to detect anything that may be hiding just in front of him.

If you had dropped to the ground at random, whether it was long grass, sand, or even a deep forest, it may have been quite dangerous.

Most wildlife, with the exception of crocodiles and alligators, which are aroused to the sound and movement of splashing, will move away from the source of the disturbance for much the same reason.

When I’ve witnessed it firsthand, owners might be perplexed as to why their horse refuses to walk across a puddle, especially on the horse yard.

Especially if it’s in the shade or dusty, the horse will immediately respond with care, especially if the bottom isn’t clearly apparent.

You will notice the horse gently twist his head as he switches from binocular vision to monocular vision in an attempt to determine whether or not it is safe to proceed farther.

Horses are naturally curious in what could be lurking in or under a puddle.

When using the muzzle, splashing may be created as well, and it is most typically observed at the water trough.

The horse is effectively making a path for himself to drink from a water source.

As with the pawing, it’s instinct that’s forcing him to chill down even though he’s presumably aware he won’t be able to physically roll about in such a confined space.

If possible, provide shelter in the field and remove the rugs, or even create a tiny water hole so that the horse may roll in water, much as with troughs and serialtrough splashers.

If you were absolutely compelled to do something but were prevented from doing so, you would feel exactly as irritated as the horse splashing in his water bucket would have felt.

All of this might be prevented if the animal’s fundamental requirements were met.

Instead of being irritated, try to comprehend what the horse is trying to tell you and come up with a workable solution. Photographs courtesy of Gary Odell, who graciously provided permission.

Pawing Horse

by Debora JohnsonHave you ever noticed that your horse is pawing the ground and wonder why this behavior is being exhibited?This behavior is often misunderstood.It can have many different meanings.Pawing is not always a vice.It can be a method of communication.Just like people-horses have body language.Being able to interpret that language will help you understand your horse.
  1. When a horse wants to assert authority, he or she will frequently paw at the ground. This is distinct from the act of striking out. It is the horse’s front hoof that will make contact with the ground. When standing, the leg will be straight, and when sitting, the neck will be arched. It is possible that they will vocalize or snort while engaging in this behavior. Nervous – A nervous horse will frequently paw the ground with fast motions, repeating the action over and over. Unlike the dominant posture, he does not hold his neck at an angle to the ground, but rather at a medium angle to the ground. Both frustration and impatience are factors that might drive a horse to paw. The horse’s stance will typically resemble that of a horse that is anxious in some way or another. Horses that are tethered to a trailer paw are something I see all the time. Attention – A horse may paw to attract the attention of another horse. Anticipation of Food – When my horse, A Patchy Star, is anticipating his hay or grain, he may sometimes paw at the ground. It has a delicate paw, one that is slow and soft. He keeps his head at a more oblique angle relative to the ground. He will occasionally raise his bent leg in the air and just keep it there for a moment. It’s similar to a dog who begs at the table by sitting up or putting one paw on your thigh, but it’s more subtle. Patchy also communicates with quiet, gentle nickers that are quite modest
  2. The Horse Pawing the Water – When you are trail riding and your horse is in a stream, it is common for him to begin pawing the water, which indicates that he is about to roll in the water. Because you and your equipment may be soaked if you don’t transfer your horse out of the stream and onto the bank, I recommend that you do so. It is possible that a horse’s pawing is caused by pain or a medical condition as well. The pawing of a horse with stomach ulcers is an excellent illustration of this phenomenon. When horses get bored, they may paw at the ground. It is possible that this conduct will develop into compulsive behavior under certain conditions. If you can, do anything to alleviate the horse’s boredom, such as placing toys in the stable or keeping a companion of some type within sight range
  3. Pressures from society – Some horses adapt well to societal change, while others do not. Changes in the environment – Some horses adapt well to changes in the environment, while others do not. Changes in Nutrition – Some horses will begin to paw when their diet has been altered in any way. It was never intended that horses would consume extremely appealing, concentrated feeds, for example. Feeding infrequent, high-energy meals can result in a wide range of anomalous behavior and health issues in animals. Pawing may be one of these behaviors. It is required of horses to graze for long periods of time at a time during the day and night. Horses will sometimes replicate the behavior of other horses
  4. This is known as mimicking behavior.
Pawing can have negative effects.If a horse paws near a fence or other object they can get caught in that object or cause trauma to their limbs or hoofs.They can also cause damage to the objects that they paw.Pawing can cause holes in the stall ground surface as well as the paddock area.Constant pawing can cause the hooves to wear improperly in an unshod horse or loosen the shoes or do damage the shoes in a shod horse. The repetitive nature of pawing takes energy.It also causes an imbalance in the muscle tone.Most horses will paw with the same leg.For More Information:Pawing Prevention for HorsesGastric Ulcers in Horses

Equine Behavior – Questions

Equine Behavior Questions and AnswersThe Question:Why does my horse paw when he eats hissweet feed?Why does my 7 year old gelding paw the ground as he eats his sweet feed?He doesn’tdo that when he grazes or eats hay.Howdy,Pawing is often considered a stereotypie � a repetitive behavior that serves no obvious, outward purpose.However stereotypies do serve a purpose � they are a coping mechanism that help horses deal with stress.Some horses start pawing when they eat because they�re nervous about not getting fed.

Sometimes that�s because they were starved earlier in life and other times it is because they feel threatened that other horses may steal their food.Once they start pawing, it is almost impossible to cure them of it � even long after the source of stress is gone.You can makehim feel more secure by making sure he gets his meal at close to the same time each day and by making sure no other horses are around to threaten him � either in the same pen as he is or lunging at him through fences or over stall doors.Luckily if he only paws at dinner time, he won�t do too much damage.He may wear a hole in his stall so keep an eye on it and fill any holes regularly.If you feed him outside his stall, you can vary the place you feed him so he won�t dig a hole as quickly.Some people use �pawing chains� to stop their horses from pawing.These are leather anklets with a length of chain that dangles down.When the horse paws, the chain raps him on the hoof.Since it hurts, the horse normally stops pawing while wearing the chains.However the chains don�t address the real problem � the horse�s stress � so he may start displaying other stereotypies to cope.Because of this, I don�t recommend pawing chains unless the horse�s behavior is causing him harm.Do you have a question?Email your questions, and it may be answered on this site.

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