Horse Sounds Part II: The Nicker

David Sanderson All About Horses

A few weeks ago, we blogged about the snort – and this week we take a closer look at a horse’s nicker. The nicker is a vibrating sound that a horse creates with his mouth closed, from his vocal cords. The strength and tone of the nicker vary greatly, and will tell you what the horse is saying. You can hear some samples at the bottom of this post.

So what does it mean?

If the horse nickers fairly quietly and moves toward the other horse or person who he is nickering to it’s usually a greeting like, “Hello, good to see you.”

If the nicker is slightly more intense than the one above, with mating in mind, and accomodated by shaking of the head – the horse (usually a stallion might be saying,”Hi, beautiful!” or “Woo Hoo, you’re cute!.”

Another possibility is the nicker means “come closer” – This sound is most usually made by a mare to her foal. It is much softer and quieter than the “hello” nicker. This nicker is usually accomodated by a nudge from the horse’s nose (usually towards her flanks to protect her foal from danger).

Below are a few examples of what a nicker might sound like. CLICK TO LISTEN!

Sample of a Nicker 1