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Study proves: horses can interpret human voice

by Jil Wiedemann
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Horses may not be able to converse with us, but it is now known that horses can interpret our voice pitch. This was proven in a study with horses and pigs.

According to a new study in the journal “BMC Biology”, horses and pigs can interpret human voice pitch. The animals show that they are influenced by the emotions we carry in our voice when we talk to them. Horses, Asian wild horses and pigs can recognise these differences.

In the research, human voices with certain emotions were played from hidden loudspeakers. To prevent the experimental animals from reacting to certain words, a professional speaker was organised. This person spoke only Kauderwelsh, i.e. a language that does not exist and has no meaningful sentences.


The result was that the animals reacted more strongly, and usually faster, to a negative-sounding voice. In contrast, when they were addressed with a positively charged voice. In some situations, they even seemed to reflect the emotions they were exposed to.

The animals’ reactions suggest that humans, with their way of speaking, have an influence on the animals’ well-being. The voice thus has a direct influence on the emotional state of the animals. This is particularly interesting with horses during handling and training. If the animals are addressed with a friendly voice, they are calmer and more relaxed.

Source: BMC Biology

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