Interesting article o use of voice - The Horse Forum
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post #1 of 28 Old 02-21-2013, 05:35 PM Thread Starter
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Interesting article o use of voice

According to a group of international behavior researchers, it seems that horses don't naturally understand the difference between our soft tones and our snippy ones.
"Based on our study, most horses did not appear to inherently distinguish between harsh vocal cues and soothing vocal cues," said Camie R. Heleski, PhD, a researcher at Michigan State University (MSU), at the 2012 International Society for Equitation Science conference. "Or if they did, it did not influence their performance of learning and performing a frightening task."
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post #2 of 28 Old 02-21-2013, 06:15 PM
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What comes out of the back end of a male bovine!

I would love to see the report on this and would fully contradict it.

A horse that is frightened of something needs a strong verbal command (if being led) to break through the fear barrier. I could state many incident of this.

Just tonight when I was feeding one of the horses started to bang his door, one quick hard "Eh!" and he stopped because he knew it was him and that I would follow through. Had I used a soft voice he would have continued banging.

WHen I am lungeing the horses they know it means work and behave correctly, then I will often let them have fun popping a few fences and they know that they can have a buck and be a bit 'cheeky' but one word of correction they will stop.

As I said to start a load of bull.
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post #3 of 28 Old 02-21-2013, 06:44 PM
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my horse clearly understands and reacts to voice commands. Id say the behavioral hippies should spend more time with horses and less time smoking whatever wacky weed led them to publish those conclusions.
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post #4 of 28 Old 02-21-2013, 06:47 PM
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I wholeheartedly disagree. If Fayde is doing something and I softly tell her to quit, she keeps on doing it. However, if I drop my voice and "tell" her firmly, she will quit.

So from personal experience, they are truly wrong in their report.

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post #5 of 28 Old 02-21-2013, 06:49 PM
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By the way, could you post a link to that report please?? I'd love to read their justification of their findings.
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post #6 of 28 Old 02-21-2013, 06:52 PM
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I think that the body language is more clear for a horse to understand than the voice... if you try to stop bad behaviour you automatically use another body language too than as if you reward it, right???
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post #7 of 28 Old 02-21-2013, 07:19 PM Thread Starter
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I think our horses respond as a conditioned reflex because we are consistant in what we say and the circumstance. The test was done on horses that had little exposure to the human voice. One horse knows what "quit" means but the other is so polite I've never had to use it on him. He hasn't a clue.
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post #8 of 28 Old 02-21-2013, 07:37 PM
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And any of us that have known the people that do the soothing "don't be won't hurt youuuuuu" type thing ends up with village idiot of a horse, knows this study is foolish from the get go.

I can EMMM and horse will stop what it is doing, can also call horse's name and it will stop.

Another waste of money for this study.

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post #9 of 28 Old 02-22-2013, 12:51 AM
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WOW whoever did the study don't know or spend enough time with horses and the boarded horse all know quit, back, no, their names......yes they also know body language but they know voice commands too.....

My horses are the joy in my life.....
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post #10 of 28 Old 02-22-2013, 01:14 AM
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Well... let's not be so quick to jump to conclusions about the irrelevance of this article! Were these studies performed on naive (never exposed to humans) horses--which I expect they were (or should have been!)? Do horses innately understand tone, or is it a learned behavior (horses raised around people, trained, etc)? Are horses more affected by breathing (sharp intakes of breath, soothing long exhalations during words?) or intonation?

We have very complex neurological wiring that allows us to perceive the meaning of different sounds, tones, and intonations-- because we have developed complex audible language. Horses have different language such that learning harsh or soothing tones may occur over time/with domestication, but might not be present in a wild mustang!

The point of science isn't to provide answers-- it's to provoke more questions. ;) Although as a neuroscientist I've spent many years calling BS on psychologists... haha!

Last edited by existentialpony; 02-22-2013 at 01:20 AM.
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