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Just wondering what everyone's opinions are in regards to the importance of using your voice during training? Do you think it's important for your horse to know all the 'walk/trot/canter/etc' commands, or to know and react to a simple 'no!' as a form of discipline?
 

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For ME voice cues are meaningless to my horse. They are for my benefit. When I say "whoa" I'm cueing my body to sit back, etc. It's my movement that causes my horse to stop. If I say "whoa" but don't change my body position, my horse keeps on walking. I know people who say their horse is trained to respond to voice cues but when you watch them, they always include other cues as well.
 

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I have always used verbal cues with my horses - I know a lot of people don't feel the need for them but to me its important that they understand basic commands - and it amazes me how many words they can pick up and respond to too
The tone of your voice is really important especially when you say 'no'.
 

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I've always used vocal cues and I'm real big on them. I can ask my horse to back or whoa from across the arena and she'll do as asked (for the most part). She knows the verbal cue, but she also knows the other cues. I can use them together for a faster response, or I can ask with one or the other. Obviously I can't give her verbal cues in a halter class with the judge breathing down my neck, but when I give lessons, she's mainly verbal undersaddle. A cluck by me will put her into a trot and a kiss will give her a canter regardless if any other cues are given by a beginner rider. But, without those verbal cues, other cues have to be perfect. If a lesson student doesn't give her the correct cues to walk on, she won't move. She'll stand in that spot until I either give a cluck or the rider gives the correct cues.
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Vocal cues are absolutely NOT necessary. I think they help a lot of riders with their timing. There is no question that horses learn them, but they learn other interactions and cues much better. They are naturally more in tune with body language and visuals. Horses in a herd carefully watch other horses body language. A flick of an ear or the shake of a head, switch of a tail, etc are used for 'pressure and cues'.

I have personally, always disliked using a lot of vocal cues other than 'smooching' and only use it in the very beginning of a horse's training. I transfer that aid to something else quite early in the training process. I realized how little voice cues were needed when I started seeing all of the stone deaf World Champion reining horses.

I asked Tim McQuay several years ago if he trained deaf reiners any differently than he trained the hearing ones. He said he did absolutely nothing different. He still used smooching in the beginning, kissed for speeding up the turn-arounds and "Whoa" for his sliding stops. He said it was so he could maintain his timing and not forget what horse he was on. He also said that in a lot of ways, the deaf reiners were easier to train. They were more tuned in to him and less distracted by everything else.

I was kind of tickled as it validated what I had always thought.

Cherie
 

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I don't use verbal cues in the saddle once the horse has learned hand/leg/body cues but on the ground I find the horse is more inclined to hear my voice than to notice what my hands or body is doing - especially if its not looking at me and I want to get its attention
 

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I trained my gelding with verbal cues. Partly because it is easier for me to get timing down, but also because if he were ever to be used as a lesson horse (he has the perfect temperament for it), most of the trainers I know use verbal cues with their horses to teach their students timing and the accompanying non-verbal cues.
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On a different note, but also training related, Henny reacts very well to verbal praise and communication. His eyesight is wonky from his accident so he can't see 100% and he's become a lot more nervous since then. Talking to him when he otherwise can't see me all that well really comforts him and makes him more confident. If he gets uneasy about something, I talk to him and it is amazing to see how obviously he relaxes physically. Hearing me relaxes him and he becomes more confident. Physical touch like a pat on the neck does the same thing.

But I do use verbal cues all the time. My boys know a kiss means move, whether it's trotting off, or yielding hindquarters. Henny DEFINITELY knows the meaning of the word "no" :lol: Basically the verbal cues are a back up for my physical cues. Would I be able to send him off or yield him or whoa him with just verbal cues? Doubt it. They're all reinforcement for my physical cues. They may not be necessary, but I've found that they help both me and Henny.
 

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Vocal cues are absolutely NOT necessary.
I take this back. There are 3 vocal cues I use a lot.

One is the "Ah!" vocal. I can say a sharp "Ah!" and husband, son, 2 granddaughters, a dog and 4 horses will freeze in their tracks and wonder if I was 'speaking' to them.

And, I use "Whoa!" on the ground when I want a horse to 'lock up' and pretend his hooves are nailed to the ground.

The other thing I always do and teach others to do is to always speak to ANY horse when you approach it. It does not matter what you say. Just let it know you are approaching it. I have seen (and had) some really bizarre things happen when even very gentle and well-trained horses are walked up on when they did not know someone was there. A little of the 'hard-wired' prey animal instinct will come out when many trained horses are startled.

And yes! Blind horses learn to rely a lot of voice as their visual observation is damaged or gone.
 

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My first horse was deaf, so I never got into using vocal cues. Now, I've been told that I need to be a bit more vocal, but I tend to remain silent, other than the occasional good boy, or a loud "QUIT." I think that body language and basic pressure/release is all you need for effective communication, but I certainly don't see harm in using vocal cues.
 

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I do not use a lot of verbal cues when riding, but for the trick training, or teaching a new obstacle I use three different words/sounds so my horse knows when he is doing it right, when he needs to reposition or is doing the wrong thing, and for the release. I say yes in a happy high voice when they are right, say ahahah in a deeper voice when its wrong and he needs to reposition or get back in position, and OK in a higher happy voice for the release. I also use physical cues to go with the words and rub him a lot with the training stick when I want him to hold himself in position.

Like Cherie said, when I yell "AH" every horse, kid and dog in the vicinity checks themselves.
 

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I use vocal cues for 2 reasons- First, so that I can use them when I'm riding my horse and he can't see my body language. This helped immensely when I started riding in a jumping saddle (versus our typical dressage) and my leg cues were different because my stirrups were much shorter. In general, I find it's easier to teach some things from the saddle after it's been mastered on the ground, and having a vocal cue helps to bridge the gap between ground work and under saddle work.

Second, it makes my horse more user-friendly for other people. I can pop a beginner on his back and if they're having trouble getting him up into the trot, they can just say "trot" along with their leg cues. He can be on the lazy side in general, and with a beginner he figures he can be even lazier, but the verbal commands reinforce that they really are asking him to do something.

He also knows a number of non-riding related vocal commands- "Drop it," "Stay," "Stretch," "Bow," "Over," etc.
 

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I use vocal cues and enjoy training horses to respond to them while riding but not necessary. I enjoy it because I can be lazy when riding and if I want to go faster or slow down I just use my voice and a bit of changing my weight in the saddle she'll go or stop. I found it easier to get her to go off my leg when training her for dressage because I taught her the command on the lunge and then it's easier for me to get her to not run into canter or jog at all.
 

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Also, one time I thought it'd be a really cleaver idea to go for a gallop bareback towwards home. She wasn't stopping because I had to hold on, but I managed to stop her before the road with a little contact and voice commands. I think if I hadn't taught her voice commands we'd have gone straight over the road.
 

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I love vocal cues! I use noises for upward transitions (cluck to trot, kiss to canter, shhh to back) and words for downward (trot to break to trot, wallllk to break from trot of canter and easyyyy or slowww to slow down). Then of course there is the almighty whoa. I think it makes my aides that much clearer to my horse. Also I make sure to keep the "conversation" between my horse and I. The whole arena does need to hear me smooching. Just light outside leg, a quick low smooch and she is loping off.
 

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I use my voice a lot when I'm on the ground with one of out in the pasture with many.

Not much when I'm horseback. Unless I'm telling the horse a story as we go along. Then I might have to say "Hey! Wake up!"
 

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I use verbal cues. It's pretty bad when the most pessimistic of all horse people (farriers) says that my horses understand English. LOL
 

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I have trained my horse to verbal cues, and could use them if I wanted, but he's so in tune with what my body is telling him that I don't really need to use them.

I do talk to him, though, as it's soothing for him and helps to keep him in his thinking brain.
 

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Now that I've stopped and thought about it, I use a lot of verbal cues. When I'm in the saddle or not. My horse knows the word halt rather then whoa (whoa sounds too much like no) halt is more for ground tying though. She knows over (for pole bending as well as side passing, I've taught her how to side pass, from the ground) She knows "here" for turning at high rates of speed during gaming events. when we're running events and she gets ahead of me (she's still young) a sharp HEY means pay attention to me. she knows kiss means trot and click or cluck means canter.
And I swear she knows what cookie means.
 
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