Horses tend to show affection in their own way. This affection is not always immediately obvious to us even though we may wish it was! However there are lots of ways to teach a horse how to give affection including teaching them how to give a kiss.
Teaching your horse to kiss a fun trick to learn. It is a cool trick to have and it always makes other people smile and is also good for photos. It is also a good way of strengthening the bond with your horse and teaching them how to respond to your voice and cues.
It is relatively simple trick to teach that should only take a few weeks depending on the horse. All you need to learn this trick is a good treat and some patience. (Try to use a healthy treat if possible)
Warning – Not every horse is suitable for learning this trick. The horse you are teaching should already have reasonably good ground manners and should be familiar with you. A horses head can often weigh the same as your own body weight and they could potentially badly hurt you if they snap their head suddenly. There is also a risk of biting depending on the horses temperament.
The base skill with this trick is to teach you horse how to touch. In the steps below I explain how you can start with this skill and then progress to the kiss.
Ho to Teach a Horse to Touch
- Hold out the palm of your hand and give your horse a treat
- Take three steps back and hold out another treat in palm of your hand until the horse comes forward and eats it
- Put a treat beside an object that they are familiar with such as a feeder, ball, or a toy and say “touch”. When they touch the object treat them immediately to reinforce the command
- Repeat this process a number of times with different objects until the learn consistently touches the desired object.
How to Teach a Horse to Kiss
- Hold a treat to your cheek and say the “kiss” command. Release the treat when the horse touches your face with their snout
- Verbally praise the horse after you feed them the treat to reinforce the command
- Repeat the process a couple times a week of a week until the horse is consistently touching your face with their snout when given the kiss command
- Finally, give the kiss command without offering a treat. This will test your horse to see if they have associated the command with the trick. If this works reinforce the behaviour with a treat that you had hidden when you gave the initial command
- Finally, practice and then practice some more. Teaching a horse anything is all about repetition.
- Push your horses snout away if they try to get the treat without touching your face. Be firm and make sure to use a different tone than the one that you reserve for verbal praise.
- After making some progress try the trick again 15-20 minutes later to see if the horse still remembers the initial process. This is an excellent way to reinforce training commands
- Switch up the treats if you are not making progress. Some treats will be seen as higher currency by the horse and you will hold his attention easier.