You and Your Horse – A Sensory Relationship – Hearing
By Carole Herder
Just because your horse is, for the most part, silent doesn’t mean you shouldn’t talk to her. I have taken two different approaches with my horses. There was a time when I was silent because they were silent. I would go the barn or the paddock and be with them, spend time with them. I thought that because they were such “feeling” intuitive animals and the voice wasn’t their natural way to communicate, that it would make sense to not speak. I wouldn’t use my voice, and instead I would use my body to communicate. While certainly I communicated with my horses by gestures, signals, touch and even looks, it didn’t feel right to not speak. I began talking with my horses as I would with anyone, man or beast. Now my horses and I know each other really well. I go into the barn and start chatting away and they respond by interacting and whinnying. They like being talked to, hearing my voice.
Initially, when my husband Greg would go into the barn he was loud and booming with his deeper voice and jolly Australian nature. At first I thought that’s not the way to be around horses. I was judgmental and presumed that my calmer, quieter nature would be more comfortable for my horses. Yes, they responded to me and then Greg would bound into the barn and call out to the horses in a hearty, robust voice, “Hey you guys, come on, let’s go.” I saw that they responded well to him too. It was clear that they could see an authenticity in the way that he was coming to them, just as much as me. He was being himself and they could hear it in his voice. They know if you’re trying to be something you’re not. Remember that as prey animals they are naturally adept to hear the slightest disturbance, the subtle signs. Just as they can hear a far off rustle in the trees or over the ridge and know if it is a sign of danger, they can sense your intention in the tone of your voice, your footsteps, and the pace of your breath. As they get to know you, you also will learn your horses’ sounds. Getting to know your horse’s sounds, her whinnies, nickers and snorts, is like getting to know your baby’s cries and coos. You’ll become familiar and understand if she is communicating happiness, pain, agitation or fear, bringing you closer to a deeper understanding of your dear friend – your horse.