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Interesting article o use of voice

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  • Articles on horses and tone of voice

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    02-22-2013, 02:53 AM
  #11
Yearling
Quote:
Originally Posted by existentialpony    
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!
Very good point, so was the study on horses in the wild or domesticted horses.....
     
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    02-22-2013, 04:01 AM
  #12
Super Moderator
Quote:
Originally Posted by Island Horselover    
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???
Absolutely true but, I can be out of sight and there can be a scuffle, I know who is causing it and can call out and it will stop so no body language involved.
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    02-22-2013, 10:13 AM
  #13
Trained
But that is probably a learned response, don't you think ? Angry voice = stop.

I personally don't use many vocal cues with my horses as I find they respond much better to my body language and I don't have to reinforce what im doing so much. Not that I don't use my voice at all, but not as much as a lot of people.
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    02-22-2013, 10:43 AM
  #14
Weanling
"What comes out of the back end of a male bovine!"

Ditto
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    02-22-2013, 10:50 AM
  #15
Foal
I agree with asking OP to provide the link. The validity of the study is only as good as its design. Meaning that the researchers may not be measuring what they think they are measuring.

Also, it could very well be that horses have learned to associate certain tones with certain body behavior. From that, trained horses know what the tone means.

It may very well mean that untrained horses (naive horses, in psych parlance) DO NOT innately respond to tone of voice. That doesn't mean they can't learn to associate tone of voice with meaning. Two different things.

We really need to see the study: what did the researchers do and how did they define their terms. Trained horses, untrained horses. Trained horses responding to new people; trained horses responding their trainers. This all matters for the validity of the study.
     
    02-22-2013, 11:09 AM
  #16
Super Moderator
I think the conclusions of the study is 'spot on'. I think EVERY voice response is a conditioned and learned response - without exception.

I have dealt with many unhandled and little handled horses. They ALL understand body language. I think all of them have to learn which tones and words accompany which actions. The first two voice stimuli I teach every horse is that a 'smooch' means to move. My body language tells them where and how to move. Then, any reprimand is accompanied by an "Ah!" The harsher the sound, the more serious I want the voice reprimand to be taken. They also learn this very quickly. I could train everything just as easily if I used no other voice sounds or cues or responses.

I think this is proven out completely by the fact that many top reiners are totally deaf. Gunner and most of his offspring as well as many other Paint reiners are deaf as a stone. They train just as easily as any other reining horse. Some trainers actually prefer them because they are so totally focused on the trainer and never distracted by crowds no noises.

I asked Tim McQuay several years ago if he had to train the Deaf Paints any differently than his other horses. I asked what he used instead of the 'kiss' to make one turn around faster and the 'whoa' for his sliding stops? He said that he did nothing different. His horses stopped off of body language and they obviously did their spins the same way. He said that the deaf reiners were actually 'lighter' and more 'tuned in' to him than the others.

One the same note, a non-hearing, non-speaking rider can get anything done with a horse a hearing / speaking rider can.

I know that most people do not agree with me, but I am very convinced that voice commands, petting and praise are just distractions and contribute little or nothing to the actual training process. I think they are more for the rider than the horse.

Of course, a horse can be conditioned and taught to understand voice interactions, but it is just one more thing a horse must be taught. It really adds little.
     
    02-22-2013, 12:14 PM
  #17
Showing
Cherie, thank you. It did spark controversy which is good. I agree with you 100%. To prove a point, if your horse was terrified of something do you think your voice would alter it's behaviour. Some will say yes, speaking in a soothing voice. But, is it the voice that eventually works or that enough time has passed that the horse can't maintain high stress any longer and lets down a bit?
     
    02-22-2013, 02:08 PM
  #18
Super Moderator
Quote:
Originally Posted by Cherie    
I think the conclusions of the study is 'spot on'. I think EVERY voice response is a conditioned and learned response - without exception.

I have dealt with many unhandled and little handled horses. They ALL understand body language. I think all of them have to learn which tones and words accompany which actions. The first two voice stimuli I teach every horse is that a 'smooch' means to move. My body language tells them where and how to move. Then, any reprimand is accompanied by an "Ah!" The harsher the sound, the more serious I want the voice reprimand to be taken. They also learn this very quickly. I could train everything just as easily if I used no other voice sounds or cues or responses.

I think this is proven out completely by the fact that many top reiners are totally deaf. Gunner and most of his offspring as well as many other Paint reiners are deaf as a stone. They train just as easily as any other reining horse. Some trainers actually prefer them because they are so totally focused on the trainer and never distracted by crowds no noises.

I asked Tim McQuay several years ago if he had to train the Deaf Paints any differently than his other horses. I asked what he used instead of the 'kiss' to make one turn around faster and the 'whoa' for his sliding stops? He said that he did nothing different. His horses stopped off of body language and they obviously did their spins the same way. He said that the deaf reiners were actually 'lighter' and more 'tuned in' to him than the others.

One the same note, a non-hearing, non-speaking rider can get anything done with a horse a hearing / speaking rider can.

I know that most people do not agree with me, but I am very convinced that voice commands, petting and praise are just distractions and contribute little or nothing to the actual training process. I think they are more for the rider than the horse.

Of course, a horse can be conditioned and taught to understand voice interactions, but it is just one more thing a horse must be taught. It really adds little.
I can see that it is a learned reaction but cannot agree that voice commands are a distraction.

Many, many times a voice command has stopped several incidents with me.

An example I can give is one evening I was bringing in five young, well handled but unbroken horses together.
They were all stood under a tree line and I caught them, led them to the gate when I heard a noise I was familiar with. It was a hot air balloon and sounded very close and low.
Sure enough I just had the gate open and the ballon came directly overhead.
I looked up and the balloonist looked down. He was low enough for me to see that he had brown eyes and I wasn't wearing my specs!

All were worried by this so low over them but, one of the horses wanted to pull away and he was at the back of the others. I immediately scolded "You DARE!" and he stopped, the others immediately relaxed and I led them in with no problem.

Some of this might well have been body language but, as I was being pulled into the others I do not think I could have given the right posture!

I like all my horses to learn verbal commands, it helps when teaching small children on ponies t6hat know what "Walk, trot canter and whoa," means.
I did have one old horse that you could turn loose in the arena and issue commands to 'Trot at A' and he would, He knew all the letters and all the paces and didn't need to have a rider on top to tell him what to do.

Horses learn their names, again with riding school ponies I can call out a pony's name if it is being awkward and it will respond appropriately yet none of the others in the ride will show any reaction.

Another example is when a horse is cast, the voice giving it the command of 'Stand' (which means keep still) it will stop struggling and allow a person to rope its legs to pull it over.

The natural aids are hands, legs, body weight and voice nowadays body language would be part of it too.

I agree that voice is probably a learned reaction but, in my never humble opinion a vital part of a horse's training.
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    02-22-2013, 10:43 PM
  #19
Yearling
We had a two year old filly here to be trained a couple years back. We had four pens with a round bale feeder in the middle of them. The filly tried climbing into it one night to get to the males I think. She got her back end hung up over the bars and was clamering around trying to get out. I hollared her name and she stopped immediately, I walked in, hopped into the feeder, put her halter on and walked her through it.
There are many times with my own horses that I've called there name and they stop...maybe because I have raised my voice to get their attention.......I had tied my mare when I first got her, she panicked and was pulling back, I called her name and she stopped and stood nicely.......it's so hard to tell because they can't tell us LOL
     
    02-23-2013, 12:05 AM
  #20
Trained
I have to wonder if the horses and the people in the study had any kind of relationship. As an example-If I yell QUIT IT at my horse, he knows to stop doing what he's doing. However if anyone else tells at him, he doesn't care.
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