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Do Horses Recognize Your Voice?

Do Horses Recognize Your Voice?

We all know that a dog or a cat can recognize its owner by the sound of his or her voice. However, what would be interesting to find out is whether a horse can do the same thing – and, as a matter of fact, there are studies out there that show that your loveable four-legged furry friend can indeed know you from the sound of your voice! Studies have been performed on the matter in England and researchers discovered that horses can indeed discriminate one speaker from another and match a face to the voice!

Now, the way the research was performed is by using a loudspeaker with a recording of the voices of both one person the horse knows and one stranger. Speakers were placed on either side of the room. Then, they would wait to see where the horse looked, and how long its face would be turned towards one direction. This was how they would determine if the horse recognised the person who called its name.

The result is that the horses would generally turn their heads much more quickly when the person who spoke was a familiar one, and they would also look in that direction for much longer at a time. The opposite was true when the stranger tried to say its name. And, the test was also done by asking two familiar people to call its name. One was always invariably the owner of the horse and it usually reacted more to the sound of its owner.

The research is still going on, but finding this out is very interesting. Owning a horse can be rewarding and satisfying – not just cats and dogs! Therefore, it is worth speaking often to your horse because it can definitely become familiar with your voice!

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  1. Chestnut Mare
    Chestnut Mare
    Voted. Cool angle for a blog! I am convinced that all animals recognise individual voices, all the higher animals that is, like horses, cats, dogs, cows, etc. The mammalian brain is remarkable, and not just in humans (as a lot of humans arrogantly suppose!)
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    1. naturegirl
      Yup! Thanks for the vote!
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  2. Dawnwriter
    Lovely article!
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    1. naturegirl
      Thanks for stopping by!
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  3. jst4horses
    Sometimes the science community, and I worked and volunteered at Cal Tech for years........and love science, goes too far. A horse uses small noises and movements to communicate in the wild. It better know the difference between a rabbit in the grass, and a mountain lion in the grass.........Horses do know voices. My younger son and I have experienced many a show rider coming up to us and saying, do you know my horse, every time my horse heard your voice, it went wild.........we would walk over, or offer our hand to the nose of the horse standing in front of us, and recognized an old friend from some training, clinic, or the race track and farms where we trained out babies to be ready for the track, and their first ride. A friend who is a retired trainer went to a farm to visit a horse that had been sold there years before. They said, she is out on the mountain, across that field in the trees. She and her husband walked to the fence, and she called the mare, her old name, and there was a galloping and neighing and there came that horse.........rushing up to visit her old friend. I realized riding my stallion on a mountain that he knew the sounds of his friends back at the barn, and they knew him, neighing to tell them "help, she has me up here in the dark with mountain lions" because he did not respond to other people's horses neighing back at him, or neighing at him as we passed by other stables..............My horse Little Raskel could even tell the sound of my car engine, and that of my husband's truck way down the stall rows and across the barn parking when I stopped to open the gate.....he would neigh, and immediately put his front feet up on the bars of the paddock and stare over until I got the vehicle parked and to his stall and paddock. They of course have extreme hearing, since they have to hear mountain lions in the grass to stay alive in the wild, and they have superior memories. We had a mare in that when a new mare came in acted very strangely. The other mare too started making strange little sounds. When we looked at their papers, since both had the same first name...........one was the mother of the other, and they had not seen each other for years since the daughter was sold off for a show horse. How they came to be in the same rescue, and sent to us, we can only thank God, for a thankful reunion of two horses who one recognized even the sound of her daughter's footsteps on the trailer ramp, and her daughter who recognized whatever her mother said to her. These animals are worth respect and care.........we tear their families and herds apart. it is so heartbreaking.
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  4. AlibiAndI
    I know my girl, Alibi, knows my voice, face, ext...even what my car sounds like! It always warms my heart, when she knows I've arrived; either coming down to the gate to greet me or nickering at me in the barn, when she hears my voice?????
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  5. PonyGirl
    PonyGirl
    I find it odd that anyone would think that a horse WOULDN'T recognize a person's voice. Their hearing is better than ours, so they should be able to detect nuances in sound better than humans. My first horse could distinguish the sound of my truck from the sound of the truck belonging to the vet I worked for, even though they were the exact same year, make, and model. Being able to discern the difference in the sounds of friend and foe is a survival skill, so with that in mind along with the horse's superior hearing, recognizing a voice should be as natural as breathing for them.
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