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"Language"

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  • "Language"

    From what I know horses respond to different tones and body moves when it comes to communicating and doing different tasks .

    But i've read somewhere that horses can also understand different words regardless of the tone used that are put in connection with different tasks . And I want to hear your opinion about it from your experiences or from others you know... Do they ?

    If so .. a deeper question would be .. does anybody know what vowels and consonants do horses understand and which of them they confuse ?

  • #2
    This is an interesting question - and one that I'm curious about as well. My horses, for example, respond to the verbal "walk", "trot", and "canter" on the longe line as well as the basic "whoa" (with vocal inflections) and "move up". But when I'm longing especially I wonder if I could teach them to respond to the same commands in another language, like Spanish for example. I don't have a real reason for doing so, I just think it would be a very interesting experiment.

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    • #3
      One one hand, I wouldn't think so, on the other hand, maybe in some cases. I once had a horse from down by the border, somewhere around El Paso, and he wouldn't respond to 'whoa' but would slam on the brakes for 'alto'.

      Then, again, especially when exasperated with some horse and I would tell them off, questioning their ancestry, in a normal voice, he/she seemed to 'get' I'm annoyed and would somehow know to straighten up and would try harder.
      GR24's Musing #19 - Save the tatas!!

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      • #4
        Far more interesting to me is do horses speak the same language the world over?

        Serious question prompted by our moving to Canada here, where they nearly speak English, so we only have a few language issues, we brought 2 dogs with us from the UK, dis they suffer from culture shock in the boarding kennels here when they first arrived, did the other dogs speak Canadian?
        "He's not even a good pathological liar." Mara

        "You're just a very desperate troll, and not even a good one. You're like middle-school troll at best. Like a goblin, not even a troll." et_fig

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        • #5
          Well, Haffy, I think that would depend...is it regular Canadian or with a French accent? I think that would depend on the breed of dog.

          Just like I'm guessing a Selle Francais would have an easier time with French than an American bred QH. Just IMO.
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          • #6
            Originally posted by LauraKY View Post
            Well, Haffy, I think that would depend...is it regular Canadian or with a French accent?
            Out here on our part of the prairies more likely to be heavy wth Ukranian or German
            "He's not even a good pathological liar." Mara

            "You're just a very desperate troll, and not even a good one. You're like middle-school troll at best. Like a goblin, not even a troll." et_fig

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            • #7
              I think my horses understand quite a few words. but there's really no way to determine how much is the word, how much is tone or inflection, and how much is other cues I may be giving (even if I think I'm not giving any). We say "the British are coming" as a cue to hit a dead gallop immediately. The horses get that, but I don't know what they'd do if someone else just flatly said the same thing. I know that I often say "all-righty" as I swing my leg over when I mount. Of course, Jet assumes that means that we can move on, so I have to watch myself. It's a hard habit to break, for some reason.

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              • #8
                I think they definately understand words, regardless of inflection, tone etc. I see it every day as we have anywhere from 30-40 head here and a number I have raised since birth.

                Somewhere I read that the 'average' horse knows about 300 words. I say kiddingly that I think my dressage horse Maverick knows 3X that many and if he needed to he could learn Italian.

                Like learning any language, for dog, humans or horses, the verbal 'command' or word has to have action or meaning. We as humans have to know this too. I use many different tones, inflections etc, with my horses and they understand what I am asking.

                I have a lot of people at my farm on a monthly basis so my horses get to hear/see/interact with many different types of people-from children to adults. These people can speak to the horse, let's say give the 'back' command if they are leading them, and the horse will respond appropriately without me being there or them forcing the horse backwards. There is no way they use my inflection/tone.

                My stallion Miracle knows the phrase, "no calling". The pasture he's in overlooks my riding ring. He's allowed to come down and watch but not call to the horse in the ring. Many years ago and very quickly he learned (and no I was not standing right by him, did not beat him or anything like that) if anyone said "no calling", he does not-even if they do it before he even mutters a sound. I taught him this phrase through conditioning and praise and know I would have to say he knows it. We don't use this phrase on any other horse in the farm.

                I truly think we really don't know how to measure intelligence, verbal comprehension and so forth in mammals.

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                • #9
                  We had a goat at the track who only responded to Italian.
                  Groom to trainer: "Where's the glamour? You promised me glamour!"

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                  • #10
                    Originally posted by Revengeance View Post
                    But i've read somewhere that horses can also understand different words regardless of the tone used that are put in connection with different tasks . And I want to hear your opinion about it from your experiences or from others you know... Do they ?
                    i would say yes, absolutely. though tone certainly plays an essential role in communication. i've thought about this quite a bit since my 8-year-old had only been communicated to/with in swedish until i bought him. most everyone at my barn switched to english around us the moment i brought him "home" but i continued to use the basic commands in swedish, slowly switching to english. often i wonder if the mixing of languages is/was confusing for him.

                    or, perhaps he's trilingual and was rolling his eyes as i butchered the most basic of swedish words.
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                    • #11
                      Bisous understood both english and french. He was a superlative dog.

                      My current three do not understand french, only english. mr. Eqt has to speak english to them.

                      Although angry cursing is a universal language.
                      "Kindness is free" ~ Eurofoal
                      ---
                      The CoTH CYA - please consult w/your veterinarian under any and all circumstances.

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                      • #12
                        I am hard of hearing, so can't understand many words good enough to know what they are.
                        I infer from the situation and topic what someone is saying well enough, although making plenty of mistakes in what I assume, that many laugh off as if I was trying to be funny, the results are so absurd at times.

                        I imagine it is similar to how we communicate between horses and humans, we only "hear" part of what is being said, some are better at the guesses than others and all of us, humans and horses keep making and working thru the mistakes.

                        Communication used to be a bit more erratic between humans before we had the kind of languages we developed later, for those that hear well and speak the same language, with similar frames of reference.

                        I think I have a facility understanding cattle, dogs and horses, because of having to learn to "hear" more than simple words, to understand what is going on, just get more practice being hard of hearing, the kind that helps communicate with animals and those speaking a language I may not know.

                        Try going to a foreign country, where you don't speak their language or they yours and in a bit all will hit on a system of facial and body expressions to watch for, with a few key words, to understand each other.

                        In Europe, we used to call that kind of communication "speaking horse" and it worked well no matter what country you went to you didn't speak the language.
                        You could still "talk" to their horses just fine.

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                        • #13
                          Originally posted by Bluey View Post
                          I am hard of hearing, so can't understand many words good enough to know what they are.
                          I infer from the situation and topic what someone is saying well enough, although making plenty of mistakes in what I assume, that many laugh off as if I was trying to be funny, the results are so absurd at times.. . .
                          Like the time one of my exes was reading the paper and he proceeded to answer a question I had asked him about an hour previous. So, it was pretty much out of the blue. No context for me,

                          "Croc-diles are sitting on poets."

                          "Wha?"

                          He repeated it six times and each time I heard it *slightly* different, but pretty much the same.

                          Finally, he wrote it down on a piece of paper and held it up for me to see:

                          "Krakow is a city in Poland."

                          It was pretty funny

                          Eileen
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                          • #14
                            I also wonder if horse vocalizations are slightly different depending on where a horse is born. We have a couple of imported Irish horses who immediately bonded with each other when they first met. I had to wonder if they shared some sort of language or customs.

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                            • #15
                              Pepo certainly understood both Stand and La! as meaning stand still, though he tested both to see if the speaker was serious. He understood both 'Foot' and 'Pye' to mean pick up the hoof being tugged on.

                              Hoover came to me understanding Kreyol only but he's catching on if I use English. English and French/Kreyol sound very different - I say they have different 'music'. Hoover seemed well able to tell that something had changed, so the first few days I had him I tried to remember to speak Kreyol around him to give him something more familiar as he acclamated.
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                              • #16
                                I only ever vocally yelled at my horse one time. I yelled at my neighing rocking pawing fussing horse "Knock it off!" He was immediately still & silent. So he understands English.

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                                • #17
                                  Just don't be vague, and the vowels and consonants won't matter much.

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                                  • #18
                                    I come from a multilingual family (English, French, Russian) and various members of my family would talk to our animals in a combination of all three. Most of my friends spoke at least one other language than English at home (German, Ukrainian, Yugolslavian) and the same was pretty true for their households too. I am going to try an experiment and see if I can teach my geldings commands in French! :P Usually I will switch to it if I have some cussin' to do, but am going to play around with commands / cues!
                                    Dee
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                                    • Original Poster

                                      #19
                                      Thought I should search today "smartest horse in the world" and lol , found this http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature...&v=cQj49FGp6ao .. quite amazing imo. :O

                                      Though he kinda seems to mistake some of them sometimes .. or is it harder for them to use their heads in a steady way ?
                                      Last edited by Revengeance; Jan. 30, 2012, 08:08 AM.

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                                      • #20
                                        Originally posted by fargonefarm View Post
                                        This is an interesting question - and one that I'm curious about as well. My horses, for example, respond to the verbal "walk", "trot", and "canter" on the longe line as well as the basic "whoa" (with vocal inflections) and "move up". But when I'm longing especially I wonder if I could teach them to respond to the same commands in another language, like Spanish for example. I don't have a real reason for doing so, I just think it would be a very interesting experiment.
                                        I also have one that knows voice cues for walk, trot, canter, whoa and back. I imagine all of us have seen or read about show horses that learn to interpret the announcer's instructions and change gaits on hearing them, even before rider signals for it.
                                        Jeanie
                                        RIP Sasha, best dog ever, pictured shortly before she died, Death either by euthanasia or natural causes is only the end of the animal inhabiting its body; I believe the spirit lives on.

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