Horses tend to show affection in their own way. This affection is not always immediately obvious to us, although we wish it were! However, there are many ways to teach a horse to give affection, including teaching him to kiss.
Teaching your horse to kiss a fun trick to learn. It’s a cool trick to have and always makes other people smile and is good for photos too. It’s also a great way to bond with your horse and teach him how to respond to your voice and signals.
It’s a 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 deal and some patience. (Try to use a healthy treat if possible)
Warning – Not all horses are apt to learn this trick. The horse you are teaching should already have reasonably good ground manners and should be familiar with you. A horse’s head can often weigh the same as its own body weight and could seriously injure it if its head snaps suddenly. There is also a risk of biting depending on the temperament of the horses.
The basic skill of this trick is teaching your horse to play. In the steps below, I explain how you can start with this ability and then progress to the kiss.
How to teach a horse to play
- Extend the palm of your hand and give your horse a treat.
- Take three steps back and hold another treat in the palm of your hand until the horse comes over and eats it.
- Place a treat next to an object you are familiar with, such as a bowl, ball, or toy, and say « touch. » When they touch the object, treat them immediately to reinforce the command.
- Repeat this process several times with different objects until the learner consistently touches the desired object.
How to teach a horse to kiss
- Hold a treat to his cheek and say the « kiss » command. Release the treat when the horse nuzzles your face.
- Verbally praise the horse after giving the treat to reinforce the command.
- Repeat the process a couple of times a week until the horse is constantly nuzzling your face when you give the command to kiss.
- Finally, he gives the command to kiss without offering a treat. This will test your horse to see if he has associated the command with the trick. If this works, reinforce the behavior with a treat that he had hidden when he gave the initial command.
- Finally, practice and then practice some more. Teaching a horse anything is all about repetition.
- Turn your horse’s nose away if he tries to get the treat without touching your face. Be firm and be sure to use a different tone than the one 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 a great way to reinforce training commands.
- Change the treats if you are not making progress. Some treats will be seen as higher value currency by the horse and you will more easily get his attention.