A horse’s ears are very expressive and can tell you a lot about how they feel. Ears perked forward show they are paying attention to something up ahead, flopping sideways shows relaxation, and pinned flat against the skull is a sign of anger. The shape of the ears also depends on the breed. For example, a foal’s ears will be more round and floppy than those of a thoroughbred or draft horse.
The first thing you want to do is draw the basic shapes of the head and neck. This will help you get the proportions right. You can do this freehand or, for more precise lines, use a protractor or ruler to create a guide.
Next, we will start drawing the actual face of the horse. This is the most important part to get right, and it’s where you can really distinguish one horse from another if you’re good at this.
For this section I’m going to start with the large circle that is the head and then add a long oval-like shape for the nose. Then connect the two with two gently sloping lines. It’s a good idea to consult your reference photo at this point to see if you have the basic proportions more or less in place.
When a horse’s head is lowered, they are usually feeling relaxed or at ease and may be in the middle of grazing, eating or taking a nap. If they are lowered and focused on something in the distance, this usually means that they are investigating or trying to figure out if it is a threat that they should flee or fight. If you come up to this horse and they have their heads lowered, call their name or make some noise to let them know you are coming so they don’t get startled.
A raised head usually means that a horse is alert and interested in whatever they are doing, such as grazing, running or jumping. However, if the head is elevated and the ears are drooping, they could be in pain or sick.
If a horse’s head is lowered and they are waving their head from side to side, this is called “snaking” and is often an aggressive gesture. This is a warning that they are ready to fight, so it is best to back away.
There are several lymph nodes in the neck of a horse. There’s a few that will be pretty easy to palpate, and there are a few that will be difficult to do so. One of these is the parotid gland, which can be found in the rostral (upper) pharyngeal area.
The second lymph node is the carotid salivary gland, which you can find on either side of the throat. It will be a little more difficult to feel, because it is hidden under a lot of muscle tissue.