That Lip!

By Terry Golson

It’s said that eyes are the windows to the soul. Eyes don’t lie. Look into them, observe closely – the pupils, the changing shape at the corners, the eyebrows – and you know what the person is truly thinking.

Eyes aren’t the only window. At least not with horses.

The lower lip is also a window to a horse’s soul.


Is your horse content? Does he feel safe?

In this photo, Tonka’s lower lip is drooping. I could look at his relaxed posture and his soft eye, but that lip! When I approach, it stays loose. That’s all I need to see to know what Tonka is thinking. I imagine he’s saying, Come and stand companionably in the sun with me. And that’s what I do.

If you want a trusting and calm horse when you are riding, then you have to pay attention to – and respect – these moments on the ground. That relaxed lip is as important for me to respond to as pinned ears. So often we ignore the good moments and rush about on our schedule and agenda. Relaxing in the sun with my horse when he tells me that this is a good time to do so, gives Tonka confidence that I’ll listen to him when he tells me when something scares him, or he’s over-faced with ring work, or he’s physically hurting. The bonus is that I get to spend peaceful time in the sun. It’s good for both of us. A couple of minutes of that, and we’re both ready to do something more energetic.

2 thoughts on “That Lip!

  • Lizzie in Cornwall

    Good to see Tonka so relaxed in his new home 🙂 and yes, that gorgeous lip looks so soft and relaxed :))
    Just a quick question, Terry: do you ever get to show Tonka where your home is? And would you have rather had him live ‘with’ you? I often wondered that before, but didn’t like to ask!

    • Terry Golson Post author

      I’d love to have him closer than a half-hour away! But I don’t want him to live at home. Horses do best when they’re with other horses, and I don’t want more than him. Also, they need care multiple times a day. I like having him at a boarding barn so that I can have some freedom from that in my life. Also, I like riding in groomed rings, and having an indoor. For that, you need a boarding barn (or a LOT of money!)

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