Kissing horses – cute or dangerous?

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Batman when I started teaching “kiss”, I kept my hands on my back in the beginning, to give him less distractions.

One of the most popular tricks nowadays is the so called “kiss”. The horse is rising its head to touch your face with the muzzle. How adorable is it when your horse can kiss you on cue? It looks great on photos, and it is pretty easy to teach.

Batman knows this trick, and I often post photos of it myself. I mean, a soft, warm muzzle .. It is adorable!

But it can also be dangerous. The horse’s head weighs approximately 10% of the horse’s body weight, according to

Batman’s head alone weigh around 70-80 kg. My face is placed on one of the most vulnerable parts of my body, my head. Approx. 70 kg of horse head, moving a bit faster and clumsier than you expected, can actually do severe injury!

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We often use food as a reward when trick training horses, which in my opinion is great. But that is a powerful tool, and must be used with care. Timing is everything, and therefore, I don’t think kissing is the best trick to start with. When you know how to time the praise perfectly, and is feeling more confident with how your horse reacts to positive reinforcement, you can think about it. Horses are individuals, as we are.

When some horses know that they will be rewarded for touching your face, the eager for praise can, in worst case, result in a concussion, broken nose or other injuries. Not all horses are super careful at all times, and accidents do happen!

Some horses will be gentle and polite every single time, others might be a bit more eager because they love doing the trick so much. And you don’t want your horse or pony to bang his head towards your face to get treats!

Batman is the very gentle type, who is always very polite and careful around me, it does not matter how much praise and treats he gets, he is careful! Especially around my head, as I am around his. He does basically not really like having me around his face. But even with him, I waited years before I started teaching this trick, because I wanted to be 100% sure it would work out. I use a vocal cue to ask Batman to kiss, and he is always moving his head slowly towards my head, before giving a light touch. I think it works out very well with him, but I know horses I would not recommend teaching this trick at all.

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My best tips

  • First of all, find out if the trick will suit your horse’s personality
  • If you decide that you will try, make sure your cue you will use cannot be mistaken for other cues
  • Teach the trick step by step, start with teaching your horse to lift and stretch his head slightly towards you, don’t reward for touching your face the first times
  • I don’t recommend you to teach your horse to kiss your face when you are lifting your arm or pointing at your head, because your horse can have trouble separate the cue from normal behavior such as removing hair from your eyes, etc.

Can your horse kiss on cue? What do you think about the trick?

Peace, love and Friesian hugs,
Batman & Matilde

3 thoughts on “Kissing horses – cute or dangerous?

  1. My horse was able to “kiss“ me and always did so very carefully. But i guess in this case it was rather luck, because i didn’t think about consequences at all and thought it by holding a piece of carrot close to my face. That could have gone ill with another horse. But to be honest i have never heard of an Accident because of a horse “kissing“ too eager. All the same i guess one should think about possible dangers and therefore i like the fact you wrote this post and mentioned them :)

  2. It is very true what you are saying. My horse knows kiss but when I read this and thought about it maybe I shouldn’t have taught him that. He loves candy and does everything to get it. So once i have given him a candy, for doing something or not doing something and just like a treat, he starts doing all easy tricks he knows. And sometimes he “hits” his face on my face. It is of course not on purpose and I have known him for a long time now and somehow knos when it is going to happen. but if some that does not know him it can be a bad outcome, even if he often tries ho have his head just a couple of centimeters away from the persons face because it feel better for him.

  3. I’m an older guy who was brought up on a farm in Alberta. I have always had a horse from the age of 5, until after I got out of college. All 3 horses throughout my adolescent and teen years loved me. I had a close bond with all of them. Kissing was not anything I had to teach them. I never even conceived of an “accident”? This would inevitably happen when first approaching any of them for the first time. Our noses would touch and briefly rub…followed by my horses beautiful, soft muzzles would rest next to mine. All 3 horses were absolutely “people” horses. Although not ridden each day, or sometimes months, they were still around on the property, so we always interacted. They most definitely know what a kiss is, and I’ll go as far as saying they understand love too. In the same way as a cat, dog, horse, person. They know.

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