Baby Talk May Be Annoying, But Study Shows It’s Beneficial For Horses

A new study has shown that using an upbeat tone of voice, similar to that often employed by adults when speaking to children, helps communication with horses.

Drs. Léa Lansade, Miléna Trösch, Céline Parias, Alice Blanchard, Elodie Gorosurreta and Ludovic Calandreau have found that the high-pitched tones foster relationships and stimulate certain learning processes. Dubbed “pet-directed speech” (PDS), this way of talking is characterized by repetition of words, a high-pitched voice and a wide pitch range.

To test the benefits of PDS, the research team created a social media survey for riders and horse owners, and found that 93 percent of the 845 people surveyed used this type of language. However, only 44 percent of those who used it thought the horses were sensitive to this manner of speaking.

To assess the impact of voice, the researchers conducted two tests on 20 horses that had never heard PDS. An experimenter spoke to the horses individually, using PDS or a neutral tone (like that used when adults speak to other adults) when grooming. The horses responded more favorably to the PDS: they were calmer, looked at the experimenter more and tried to groom them. None of these actions were shown in horses that were addressed in a neutral manner.

The second test involved an experimenter trying to tell a horse where food was located. She stood with a covered bucket in each hand, one of them containing food. The experimenter repeatedly moved her arm  to point at the bucket the horse had to “choose” to get the food reward while speaking in PDS or neutrally

The horse chose a bucket at random when spoken to neutrally. When listening to PDS, the animals chose the bucket indicated to them.

The team determined that PDS captures the attention of animals and helps them better understand the experimenters’ intentions. It also facilitates communication with horses during everyday interactions. The scientists report that using PDS could improve equine welfare as horses are sensitive to human emotions.

Read the paper here.

Read more at HorseTalk.

The post Baby Talk May Be Annoying, But Study Shows It’s Beneficial For Horses appeared first on Horse Racing News | Paulick Report.

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