How to talk to your horse to better capture his attention
“Horses are more attentive and seem to understand our intentions better”, when the tone used is “higher” and the intonations are “exaggerated”. The study was carried out by the National Research Institute for Agriculture, Food and the Environment (INRAE) Val de Loire and the French Institute for Horse and Riding (IFCE). “This method should therefore be integrated by riders and breeders in their relationship with horses to facilitate daily interactions and improve the well-being of these animals,” notes the INRAE press release.
By using this language, humans better capture the attention of horses, which then “perform better at learning,” as has already been proven for dogs and primates. The full study was published in the scientific journal Animal Cognition.
To assess the impact of this language, ethologists conducted two series of tests with twenty horses, which had never before been exposed to “baby talk”. “Horses respond more favorably. They are calmer, look more at the experimenter and respond to the grooming gestures of the mirror experimenter. [ils frottent le bout de leur nez contre lui en cherchant à le toiletter en retour, ndlr], gestures that they do not make if one addresses them in a neutral adult language, “notes INRAE.
In the second test, scientists found that feeding instructions were best followed by horses if communicated in a childish tone.
The INRAE Val de Loire and IFCE teams had shown in a previous study that equines are able to recognize expressions on a human face. Horses are thus more nervous when faced with an expression of anger and more relaxed when faced with an expression of joy.