Why Does The Horse Hold Its Head Out Like That

This is a New Forest horse, or to be more exact, it is a photographic representation of a New Forest horse.

The horse is walking along, as you can perhaps tell.

I wonder whether someone who knows horses and horse behaviour can say what the angle of the horse’s head indicates?

It is not held high and it is not bent to graze, so what dictates that the horse holds its head out in front like that?

Maybe I simply never noticed that that’s what horses do when they walk? But I don’t think so.

Maybe it is the breed?

Second Version Of Horse

13 Comments

    1. Maybe. The New Forest is not fenced off from the small roads that cut through it, so the horses wear reflective bands to warn traffic. I took several photos but none of a horse walking along so I can’t get a comparison from another horse.

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  1. Also, that band of white may cause somewhat of an optical illusion. The horse may sply be moving forward, eager to get where it’s going, maybe looking at something tasty. Hard to tell from a still photo. I’ve snapped shots of my horses that make them look deformed!

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    1. Yes, that maybe it. It may have a headache from thinking about the same things I’ve been thinking about lately. No groom though, the horses are owned by the Commoners who live in the New Forest. They let the horses out the whole year and only bring them in for the annual count and to ingather the foals for market.

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  2. To me, it looks as though he/she’s strolling along, not alarmed, simply going and neither particularly interested nor happy either…
    But the reflective band looks very strange – disrupts the eye’s normal flow – and chops the line from head to shoulder giving a ‘disconnected’ appearance as though the head is floating in midair… Very disconcerting:/
    I do like the depth of colour in the second shot much better though: )

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    1. I agree about those neck bands. And thank you for the comment about the colour on the two versions. I am weighing up the colour response of different cameras and different processing applications. I took these shots with a Nikon D500 and I am pitching it against a Fuji X-T2, the camera that I used to take the photos of the Street Fair.

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      1. When I used film (oh SO long ago; ) I always preferred Fuji Film over Kodachrome. The reds in particular always seemed so much more intense to me… (So, just out of curiosity, is my personal prejudice still in effect, David?: )

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        1. The current opinion is that Fuji do an excellent job of rendering images in digital cameras. There are aficionados of other brands, but Fuji is a touchstone for colour rendering. (I happen to like Olympus rendering as well.)

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    2. Second reply: Coincidentally, my wife was sketching using examples from a book of animals. On the ‘horses’ page that she happened to have open, there are two horses – one has its head held high and it looks like what I might call an Arab stallion. The other has its head held low and forward, and it is drawn with a shaggy mane and a bulkier build and looks like an Icelandic pony or something of that nature. So I wonder whether there are simply two strains of horse. Red deer, for example, hold their heads up while reindeer are constructed differently and hold their heads out horizontally.

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      1. I would say that it indicates more a state of awareness – head down/ ears in a neutral position = calm and relaxed, while head up, ears pointed forward in the direction of the gaze is more attentive/ interested/ guarded… Herd animals are prey and more ready to flee an attacker at a moment’s notice (or in the stallion’s case, also watching for any sign of competition; )

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