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If you spend a lot of time around a horse -- thoroughbred, Arabian or any other type -- you've probably noticed him pawing at the ground at some point. When a horse elevates one of his front hooves and pushes it into the ground over and over, he is pawing at it. This body language is not random, it's a way of communicating.
A horse's pawing at the ground can be a sign of frustration, according to Extension.org. He might be feeling restless and is pawing to tell you he wants to get a move on -- pronto. This horse is probably just sick of being stagnant.
'I'm Scared' or 'I'm Nervous'
Horses frequently paw the ground when they're feeling apprehensive and nervous. Perhaps the horse is upset or uneasy about the sudden presence of a horse that he's unfamiliar with, and he's expressing that through body language.
'I Can't Wait'
Pawing the ground can also signify anticipation. Perhaps it's just about that time of day when you come around to give your beloved equine a few fresh, small green apple slices. Your horse could be eager to chow down on that juicy fruit -- and he's expressing it through pawing.
'I Don't Feel Well'
Occasionally, pawing indicates that your horse isn't feeling well. Sometimes it's a symptom of colic. If your horse keeps pawing the ground and also displays other signs of that intestinal ailment, he might need immediate veterinary attention. Other symptoms to look out for include belly kicking, appetite loss, frequent rolling over, depression and difficulties in passing stools. Horses with colic also frequently gaze down at their stomach regions.
Horses sometimes paw onto the ground to crack ice. If your horse paws an icy ground, he might be trying to retrieve water, so be on alert. The poor thing is probably thirsty.
Pawing the ground can indicate something as simple as curiosity. If your horse is in a new environment, he might paw the ground as a way of exploring all of the newness surrounding him.
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