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Talking to your horse?

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  • Talking to your horse?

    About 4 months ago Zanzer decided he was not going to back up on command. It cost me position at a CDE and an ADT and a small Pleasure show this past weekend. He is better and my trainer had helped me figure out what works best with him.

    Today's lesson was absolutely incredible--- it came down to him doing his transitions on my verbal commands with very little from my hands--aka they were quiet. I asked him to back and he did, not once but twice.

    This horse was trained as a youngster to understand the verbal commands--trot, whoa, walk, canter and back. It seems to be helping now. I have a bad tendency to overdrive him. The old "get and let" is often repeated to me as I tend to forget it.

    Just curious--how many of you actually talk to your horse?

  • #2
    All the time!

    I also sing to them when I'm driving...... and much to the embarrassment of my grooms!


    • #3
      I talk to mine all the time and sing to them too when out and about driving around the farm.

      If I remember correctly though you don't want to over do it in the show ring.
      Ponies are horses too!


      • #4
        Can't shut me up most of the time! I don't have a problem with the horse tuning me out because I always preface any command with his name and use a very different tone of voice that gets his attention. He seems to enjoy listening to my commentary when we're just going along.

        Hey look, I joined ANOTHER forum! And you thought horses were addictive.


        • #5
          I use walk and whoa. Otherwise for increase in gait I use a kiss to ask and a cluck to say "I meant move forward NOW"- if I don't go to the whip.

          To stay steady I do say "gooood man Sam" with a soft & deep voice.


          • #6
            Do you get marked down when showing if you use your voice????


            • #7
              I've had to re-learn talking to my horses after years of dressage, where it's a no-no. But I've ALWAYS sung to them. I've probably got the only horses/ponies who can appreciate opera Actually using music - either singing or playing music - is a good way to help them adjust gaits. I've found most horses to be quite musical with a good sense of rhythm.

              I don't think you get marked down for using your voice with a driven horse unless you really get loud or overdo it.
              Pat Belskie - ASHEMONT Farm

              PnP Distributors - KUTZMANN Carriages


              • #8
                Originally posted by Ashemont View Post
                I've probably got the only horses/ponies who can appreciate opera
                You haven't. I sing baritone for our local amature operatic society and mine are very appreciative of my renditions

                Did you know my dun driving pair are even called Gilbert and Sullivan?


                • #9
                  I talk. I try to use the same commands, but I also just talk. I do use her name when it is a command, not just talking.


                  • #10
                    Definitely talk to and sing to the horses, all the time
                    Although some days I find myself very quiet. I guess its just sometimes how you or they feel.

                    As to Johara's comment - No you do not get knocked down in shows for talking to the horses as long as its not too loud or too disturbing to other competitors.


                    • #11
                      Originally posted by joharavhf View Post
                      Do you get marked down when showing if you use your voice????
                      "Discreet use of the vocal aids" is permitted per ADS rules. Including driven dressage. In War Admiral-speak, this basically means you wait until you get to the far end away from the judge's stand to mutter "QUIT, Avery, you sorry old fool, or I'll rip yer face off!"

                      And yeah, of course, I natter to my horses all the time. Partly b/c I enjoy it, partly b/c they do, and partly b/c I've worked with so many blind or partially-sighted ones who REALLY need to know where you are all the time, and it just gets to be a habit after that.

                      I use soft tones for chatter and short sharp barks for commands. HRH Avery knows if I say "Ho!" he dadgum well better hit the brakes or I'll know the reason why. He may not understand the words themselves, but he knows there's a tonal difference between "Ho!" and "Awww, Ave-man, you're ssssuuuuuuch a good TeeeeeeeBeeeee...." He knows he only needs to listen to one of 'em.

                      ...And BTW, in keeping with his champagne tastes, HRH prefers Mozart.
                      "The standard you walk by is the standard you accept."--Lt. Gen. David Morrison, Austalian Army Chief


                      • #12
                        Yep, I talk all the time, too. I'm no singer, so none of that. Because I usually have someone w/ me when I'm driving idle chatter is fairly normal and the horses know the difference. In the show ring for my breed hearing the drivers is common. It's either clucking, whistling or actual words.
                        A Merrick N Dream Farm
                        Proud Member of "Someone Special to me serves in the Military" Clique


                        • #13
                          This is all so funny to me! I come from a dressage and eventing background, so there's no talking (except on xc!)....to now know that I can SING to my horse??? THIS IS GREAT! I love to sing to my horses when I'm brushing them, now they are going to get it all the time, LOL. Poor horses


                          • #14
                            I used to give verbal commands for walk, trot, whoa until I started taking lessons from Hardy Zantke. His opinion was that if you give the verbal command you are at the mercy of your horse as to when they want to perform the task. So now I say the name of the horse and make some kind of cluck. If they don't respond as quickly as I expect the get a tap. I also use a trill for any kind of slowing down and regulate it with my reins. I do give an enthusiastic "hup" for the canter, a more enthusiastic "go" for a gallop and the trill to bring them back down. The trill sort of equates to "whatever you are doing, do it more slowly".

                            Just my .02
                            Kanoe Godby
                            See, I was raised by wolves and am really behind the 8-ball on diplomatic issue resolution.


                            • #15
                              This thread really interested me! I too talk and sing to my horses. I recall having a lesson with a "knowledgeable" horse lady once...and when I started to talk to my horse, she told me NOT to, as they don't know what your saying anyway...need less to say, I did not invite her back!

                              Horses respond to voice and they know how you feel about them via tone and inflection. I talk continually to all my animals. My cats know the word NO! and they also know the word "Down."

                              Yes, singing definitely is soothing. I had a lovely Arab, whom I backed and trained. I always sung "Unchained Melody" to him. I lost him in '05...I cry everytime I hear that song now.
                              Proud of my Hunter Breeding Princesses
                              "Grief is the price we all pay for love," Gretchen Jackson (1/29/07) In Memory of Barbaro


                              • #16
                                I always thought you were supposed to talk! In fact, I thought your voice was a key aid in driving?

                                A while back I heard a very popular NH trainer say that it's silly to talk to horses, as they don't talk to each other with their voices. He has never been around my very vocal herd!


                                • Original Poster

                                  OH my goodness---this is too funny. This is not exactly where I would have thought this thread would go.

                                  I also have always sung to my horses--even in my distance days, much to the chargrin of some of my companions. No sense of humor, I guess.

                                  My ponies tend to like Janis Joplin--Mercedes Benz and Bobby McGee, some songs of a more colorful theme--a variation of Bingo--, and something called Rye Whiskey which talks about a duck--and an old camping song about the Salvation Army which talks aobut pretzels on my eyesbrows!. I am too not above making up my own little ribald versions of songs.

                                  As Ashmont said, I have also used songs to slow Looker down in dressage. My whole dressage test at Katydid was done to Rye Whiskey when I wanted a working trot, Somewhere Over the Rainbow (Judy Garland style) when I wanted a walk.

                                  Looker sets her rhythm when we do distance to whatever I am singing at the moment. You can see her work her ears to the cadence change.

                                  On the more serious note of the theme on this thread--I give Zanzer a chance to respond before I go to the lines. This is a way to get me to think before I over drive him.

                                  And Johara--yes you can talk to your horse in the show ring.


                                  • #18
                                    That's it - I want my cart rigged with surround sound! LOL.

                                    My filly likes to GOOOOOO GOOOOO GGOOOOOOO. We'll probably listen to Carrie Underwood's "Before He Cheats" quite a bit, LOL.....

                                    Or some other country tune. Of course, at shows, I'll sing acapella, LOL.


                                    • #19
                                      Another country girl

                                      My horses trot out quite happily to Garth Brooks, Kenny Rogers, or Simon and Garfunkel. We're a little low-brow compared to some of you!

                                      There was a great article in the last Driving Digest by Andy Marcoux of Coachman's Delight regarding speaking to your driving horse and he made the very valid point that when you get off the horse's back and behind a set of blinkers you remove (he estimates) 2/3 of the methods of communication a horse typically uses. They can't see you, they don't have your weight or your legs, just those reins and the whip and your voice. Why make the horse "drive blind?"

                                      I agree with Hardy about not using the voice as the primary cue for things like turning and downward transitions but I do use it consistently. The rein signal comes first with the vocal command used to clarify what I mean or add emphasis or nuance. The exception is upward transitions where because of the lack of leg aids the voice is my primary forward cue. I will, of course, promptly back it up with the whip if the horse isn't paying attention and I do use a half-halt to warn the horse before I ask for the next gait. He is trained to respond to a cluck for trot or kiss for canter as well, which is very helpful when I'm trying to drive with a case of laryngitis! (Believe me, it's happened. ) You could just as easily use a particular whistle in place of his name as an attention getter; the horse doesn't care what the sound is as long as it's consistent and he understands it. Anybody ever watch the Star Trek Voyager episode where they found a sort of humanoid "ship rat" that quickly learned to communicate entirely through musical tones? It's like that. I think it would be fun to train a horse entirely to whistles and clicks someday just to prove you could do it!

                                      Hey look, I joined ANOTHER forum! And you thought horses were addictive.


                                      • #20
                                        When I first started driving, I talked to my horse constantly. I attributed that to nervousness (mine, not the horse's). As time went on and I developed more confidence, I started shutting up now and then. Now we are three and I still talk to the boys but sometimes we all just enjoy a companionable silence, the exhiliaration of forward motion, the sound of hooves and the crunch of pine needles under the wheels. I do sing to them. Their favorite song is "The Pony Man" by Gordon Lightfoot. Or maybe it's my favorite song. Whatever it is, they hear a lot of it, along with Elton John, Led Zeppelin, ZZ Top, CCR... pretty much whatever was playing on the radio when I pulled into the barn that morning.