How To Train Your Horse To Smile
 By Baby Lou Tattoo   •   12th Jun 2011   •   31,294 views   •   34 comments
How To Train Your Horse To Smile

This is a really cool party trick. It doesn't involve any complicated equipment, the horses love it and it's very effective! The trick is the smile.


To create a big "smile" with your horse. He'll lift up his lip and hold it, usually raising his head up in a big "grin". This is a natural behaviour, a horse will do this movement when he smells something funny as a reflex. Some horses will have really flexible lips, others will only lift them a tiny little bit.


Sessions shouldn't last more than 10 minutes, or after his first "smile" or he's starting to get it, leave him alone and move onto something else. Always quit on a positive note. He should get this down-pat within a week.


The final, polished cue is to simply point at his lip and say "smile!"


A very simple trick to teach. You can use a clicker or verbal cue as he starts to lift his lip, but it's not required. I'm going to show you two separate methods, and I've never seen one or the other not work for a horse. I personally used method "B" to train Ted to smile.

Equipment Required

Halter, leadrope, horse, a pocketful of treats (carrots, chopped up apples, gumnuts).

1) Have your horse in a regular halter with a leadrope attached. You can stand him in a stall to reduce distractions.

Method A: Stand beside your horses head, or in front of him, and offer him a smell of a strange scent, like a chopped up onion or garlic (please don't use ammonia, it is poisonous.) Use your imagination, but keep it natural and no fine powders. Another option is to tickle the top of his upper lip with your finger until he lifts his lip - this works really well for some horses.

Method B: Lift a carrot out of your horses reach, like over a fence or hold him in place and make him reach for it. His lip will reach for the carrot upwards. Tease him with the carrot, encouraging him to arch his neck upwards and lift his upper lip.

2) As soon as the horse lifts his lip in response to the smell, or trying to reach the carrot, reward the horse. Reward the horse for even the slightest try, and be enthusiastic when he successfully offers a smile.

3) He should make the association very quickly. When he starts to get the idea, introduce the verbal cue "smile!" and a point towards the lip. It really shouldn't take him long to make the connection and start smiling when your finger goes near his lip. Be sure you reward for every try and successful smile. Eventually your horse will realise it's a trick and add his own expression to it. Horses love to smile when they get the swing of it, and will offer it to people in hope of a carrot.

Don't forget, don't overtrain. I know it's tempting, and like you hear in the cutting circuit, "just one more cow!" - quit while you're ahead on a light happy note. That's what tricks are all about.
Horse News More In This Category:  Horse Training      Horse News More From This Author:  Baby Lou Tattoo
Silent Nights  
thats cool!
  Jun 12, 2011  •  18,894 views
Hehe. that's so cool! :D
  Jun 12, 2011  •  18,879 views
Spyricale sweet! ^^ I trained our Miniature to smile. Our guests just loved it!

Thanks for posting this article. I'm sure you'll help many people out who wish to train their horses to smile.
  Jun 12, 2011  •  18,886 views
I'm going to have to train all our horses to do this and get them all to do it at the same time xD
  Jun 12, 2011  •  24,717 views
Rowdy Girl  
That is cool!!!!!
  Jun 12, 2011  •  18,914 views
Carpe Diem  
Awesome! I'm so gonna try this! Lets hope my girly doesn't bite me, though xD haha
  Jun 12, 2011  •  23,054 views
We had a horse in the barn I work at who'd smile if you got anywhere near his nose with anything even slightly scented and he made a whole production it. He's a long necked upheaded Morgan and he'd stick his head straight up "smiling" for a good ten seconds!

Hahahah and if you washed your hands with strong scented soap, you might as well let him get his "smiling" out of the way before trying to bridle. He was too funny to get annoyed with even when you were in a hurry. haha
  Jun 12, 2011  •  23,253 views
Aww BLT!! I love your pictures of Ted!! He looks like such a fabulous horse!! I hope to see more articles from you in the future!
  Jun 12, 2011  •  23,050 views
I've been teaching my horse to smile and I didn't quite know how to do it... I just read this and I've been doing exactly this! haha Love it!
  Jun 12, 2011  •  23,202 views
Valkyrie   MOD 
How interesting! I'll have to give this a go with my Starbaby :)
  Jun 13, 2011  •  23,055 views
Deleted Accounts  
that's so cool:') must train haze to do that.
  Jun 13, 2011  •  24,949 views
Thaats awsome
  Jun 13, 2011  •  24,939 views
T E M P E S T  
That's so cool!
  Jun 13, 2011  •  25,334 views
Stay Untamed  
cool! good article!
  Jun 13, 2011  •  24,982 views
Great article love. One of those simple stress free tricks anyone can do ... Kurt learned pawing and nodding his head this way too. Carrot tease out of reach = frustrated neigh = nodding/pawing. GOOD HOERS.
  Jun 14, 2011  •  25,612 views
Cruisin Past Curfew  
Haha, that is so cute :D
  Jun 14, 2011  •  26,559 views
Prarie Rose  
Awesome. I want to try it now. :)
  Jun 14, 2011  •  26,575 views
My Paper Heart  
Wow thats cute!
  Jun 15, 2011  •  26,562 views
Thats Cool!!!
  Jun 15, 2011  •  26,580 views
Seven Sins  
great article
  Jun 15, 2011  •  26,585 views
My horse does this all the time.They do it when they smell a bad smell or if it is a stallion they'll do it if a mares in heat. It's called the fleshmen response
  Jun 16, 2011  •  26,603 views
Aslans Roar  
hahahahaha, thats funny!! :)
  Jun 17, 2011  •  26,568 views
Aslans Roar  
and cool. :)
  Jun 17, 2011  •  26,565 views
Golden Juniper  
thats such a cute trick!
  Jun 18, 2011  •  26,721 views
Sunny Daze  
I have a Pony of America's back at our ranch. His name is Bart, he is black gelding with white speckles on his rump and I taught him how to smile. I used both method's but the second worked best. Now he smile's whenever I give him the command or even taunt him with a carrot. My two words are It Works
  Jun 18, 2011  •  20,755 views
FoxDream Acres  
What a cutie Ted is!
  Jun 18, 2011  •  20,834 views
My pony already new how 2 do this but we sold him last year :'(

But now i have 2 horses i have 2 ride...i will teach them both!!
  Jun 19, 2011  •  20,760 views
Lol, i'm definetly going to try this with Cherry! x
  Jun 20, 2011  •  20,750 views
Mutley Jackson  
wow thats soo cooll
  Jun 20, 2011  •  20,748 views
Estella Noire  
Lol! If I had a horse I would totally train him/her to do that :D
  Jun 23, 2011  •  20,754 views
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