Horses are social animals. They make lasting friendships within their herd and help each other out.

Before the drama in the Herd of Oldsters, I took these photos of horses from the larger herd. The weather was great and everyone was feeling mellow and friendly.

Horses engage in something called mutual grooming behavior where they stand nose to tail and essentially scratch each other’s back.  It’s a gesture of friendship and helps develop bonds. Mutual grooming reduces tension and just plain feels good.

If you’ve ever had an itchy back and couldn’t reach the spot, you know how welcome it is when someone gives you a good scratch.


Think about how difficult it must be for horses to reach itchy areas on their withers and back. Rolling will sometimes do the trick, but not always. That’s when a pasture mate can help out. A little nibble here, a little nip there, and then glorious relief.

 I could almost hear the sighs of ecstasy echoing across the pasture. I felt relaxed just watching!

In general, horses enjoy grooming, whether by another horse, or a human.

Researchers believe that grooming can reduce a horse’s elevated heart rate and as such is an excellent method of cooling a horse down after a ride or workout. It also strengthens the bond between horse and human.

Touch is a powerful means of communication and healing for all beings.

Studies show that stroking an animal’s fur can reduce blood pressure in humans.

In another study, when librarians would simply brush the hand of a book borrower in the checkout process, the borrower later rated the library experience as very positive. They also tended to return their books on time as compared with borrowers whose hands were not touched.

Living beings need to be touched in order to thrive.

So whose back have you scratched today?