What Does it Mean When a Horse Lips You? Find Out

Lipping is a show of dominance, similar to licking in dogs. When the horse lips you, he’s establishing his alpha role. So, it is extremely vital to correct the behavior, and re-position yourself as alpha.

Tip – What does it mean when a horse lips you?

A lot of people find it best to avoid the problem and not allow any hand feeding or touching at all, and that’s fine too. In other words, you can set the limit you want and if you’re consistent, your horse will understand, and you won’t be faced with any challenge.

READ MORE: Can You Ride English and Western at the same time?

How to Stop this Horse-Lipping Behavior?

Aside being a show of dominance, Lipping is a play thing; and is NOT acceptable unless you want to begin playing with him or her (which I believe you don’t want since “horseplay” is typically rough).

I avoid any contact with a “lippy” horse’s nose. It’s a “play” button for them and can even make matters worse. So, no rubbing/grabbing their muzzle, no ‘bopping” them on the nose when they carryout naughty actions etc.).

Method 1:

Previously, I used to just smack the nose or simply stick my elbow out until I found a better method.

Method 2:

I will push their head away at the cheek (If you have ever watch horses interact with each other, the alpha will use these areas as a ‘STOP THAT SHIT” zone), or in a horse who just won’t quit, I’ll actually rap them with my knuckles in that same spot. (If I draw a triangle from each corner of the eye, where those two “lines” intersect is the “BACK OFF” target zone) … I keep going until the horse moves back AND away from me (or starts to anyhow… I will follow up if they stop going back, but usually they keep going). As long as I don’t miss my “target” or screw up on the timing it won’t create a head shy horse.

ALSO SEE: What Do You Need for a Leadline Class?

Can It become Head shy from Doing This?

Are you worried about making the horse head shy from popping their face or nose? If I use the method above, does it make some horses head shy?

Only if you use it inconsistently or excessively. Ensure you take time to rub him all over his face, ears, mouth daily and that will null any shyness he may develop. But, don’t rub him right after you give him a pop.

Only react and then return to whatever it was you were doing.

Note: I will also add to it that there are some horses that this will not work with.

Method 3: I make them work when they nip, as this often accompanies them invading your space. The moment they start to nip or step into my space, I will make them run backward. I will advance at a brisk walk and begin popping the halter (a rope halter works better) until they are backing up quick enough to stay ahead of you and out of your space.

After a couple of moments after, just lead them back to wherever you were and continue on about your business.


That also works for horses that walk into you when you are leading them and stop moving.

From your experience, what does it mean when a horse lips you? Share with us using the comment section below!