Neigh – a loud squeal followed by a nicker, with head high; done when looking for other horses or people, also called a “whinny.”
Nicker – vibrating sound with mouth closed using vocal cords; means “hello” when made softly and moving toward a person or horse; means he wants a mate when made more intensely and accompanied by shaking of head; a mare will nicker very softly to her foal.
Resting foot – When a horse rests one foot slightly on the hoof tip, it generally means he’s relaxed and comfortable with you and his surroundings.
Scream – while fighting with another horse.
Snort – exhaling through the nose with mouth shut and producing a vibrating sound in the nostrils; often with head up; when accompanied by a stare, he is checking for danger.
Squeal – squeals with his mouth shut; usually means “no.”
Hollywood Fantasy - Movies often add horse calls as sound effects in the most unlikely situations. These cinematic horses who neigh and scream on a regular basis are largely fictional. Horses are generally rather silent, though they will whinny if parted from their fellows, or nicker softly in greeting at feeding time.
Breathing – A healthy horse at rest should breathe in a slow, rhythmic manner. Accelerated breathing means he's either in the midst of physical activity or he's becoming anxious.
Ears – Horses will rotate their ears towards whatever their attention is focused on. They can hear high and low pitched noises that humans cannot hear; picking up sounds from further away and long before humans.
Ear position – alert and interested (ears are up and pointed forward); sleepy, tired, unwell or submissive (ears are pointed out to the side, almost v-shaped to head); relaxed, unwell or bored (ears are pointed up and to the side); angry and aggressive (ears are back and pinned flat against the head).
Eyes – Fearful horses will generally have wide eyes surrounded by white; a soft, relaxed eye indicates confidence.
Head position – A nervous or excited horse will hold his head high with tense neck muscles.
Question for readers: What is the favorite thing you like to know about horses in colonial stories?