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Bren McDonnall
10-26-2015, 10:28 AM
As we all know who've ever known a horse, they have many different moods, and many ways to convey those moods (up to and including snorting into your coffee every. single. morning.)

Anyway, how does a person lay down these moods/messages for the reader?

Whinny, nicker, snort, and etc are fairly commonplace, but horses are much more subtle creatures than those few words can convey.

My current problem is war horses. I've had some experience with mustangs and riding horses, but I had to have my stallion cut before he ran me into poverty bailing him out of horse jail, so I've never heard the "battle cry".

Can we maybe create a list of the different noises/physical signals that various horses (or mules) use and the best way to convey those sounds/actions to readers who might never have had to share space with a 900 pound peanut gallery?

Ornery pack horses, jaded rental mounts, newly broken mustangs, and the aforementioned war horse. Seems like it would be a handy reference guide to have when writing fantasy or westerns.

Roxxsmom
10-26-2015, 10:57 AM
Not sure exactly what you're asking for, but horses are very social, and in addition to sounds, they communicate a lot with body language and postures (http://free-stock-illustration.com/pinning+ears+horses).

Here's a list (http://equestrianoutreach.com/Equestrian-Outreach-Equine-Body-Language-and-Sounds-Page.html) of some horse sounds and behaviors.

And Equus magazine has some recordings (http://equusmagazine.com/article/vocalizations_061606).

Ears pinned or laced back, tight mouth, and bulgy eyes, lowered head, tucked tail etc. All these means a horse is unhappy.

Relaxed, droopy ears means a relaxed horse. Ears pricked means a horse is focusing on something in front of him/her and may be curious or interested, or maybe apprehensive.

Ears show a lot (https://www.pinterest.com/pin/39125090488044931/).

Horses nip and bite, and they'll swivel their rumps around and tuck their tails when they're going to kick.

A white ring around the eye (https://www.pinterest.com/pin/396879785884636127/) means a horse is scared typically (except for appaloosas--they always have a white ring).

Tails also communicate a lot of things (https://www.pinterest.com/pin/113504853086225568/).

Horses will flag their tails when they're excited and prone to spooking, or is even being playful with another horse.

A swishing tail can mean bad temper, especially if paired with pinned-back ears. But if the horse is standing hipshot with lazy ears, it's more likely just swishing flies.

And there's the flehmen (raising the upper lip), which is something male horses will do when they smell a mare in estrus, but some horses do it for other scents.

As for sounds, there are short little nickers as opposed to longer, more drawn-out whinnies. The former might be a greeting, while the latter is a call to herd mates that are further away. Horses will also grunt and sigh and blow. Sometimes they groan (usually when sore, tired or in actual pain). And stallions sometimes have this grunting nicker they can make when they're interested in a mare. And there's a sort of bugling neigh that can equal a challenge to another male or express confidence.

Horses also yawn, and the reasons for doing so are as mysterious as our own (dogs will do it as a stress reaction as well as tiredness or boredom, and I suspect that's true for humans and equines too)

http://equusmagazine.com/article/how-to-read-your-horses-body-language-8577

You can probably google horse vocalizations and equine body language and get more resources too.

There's a great book on dog body language by Abrantes. I can't believe a similar body language "bible" doesn't exist for horses too.

Bren McDonnall
10-26-2015, 11:15 AM
Thanks. Yep, that's the sort of stuff I'm looking for over the long term. Starting a little guide to horse interaction book with that info if you don't mind. For personal use only, of course.

Are there any specific fighting vocalizations that you're aware of, that, say, a knight's charger might utter as he's about to stomp hell out of some unfortunate foot soldier? Or worse yet, kick his head off?

Roxxsmom
10-26-2015, 11:21 AM
Thanks. Yep, that's the sort of stuff I'm looking for over the long term. Starting a little guide to horse interaction book with that info if you don't mind. For personal use only, of course.

Are there any specific fighting vocalizations that you're aware of, that, say, a knight's charger might utter as he's about to stomp hell out of some unfortunate foot soldier? Or worse yet, kick his head off?

I don't have any experience with actual warhorses, but from reading I think a stallion trained to attack humans or other mounts in war is probably going to be channeling some of the instincts they use when they fight other stallions? If so they may scream, squeal, or bugle the way horses do when they fight with other horses.

Some cultures used mares or geldings in battle too, but horses of all genders will fight for status and reinforce their pecking order within their social groups, though the squabbles would usually be less dramatic than the ones between stallions. Mares also will defend their foals, of course, and all horses will squeal when they kick or bite one another.

Someone who knows more about the way they actually trained war horses of various kinds might be able to weigh in better than I can here.

As for books about equine behavior, hmmm. This (http://www.amazon.com/Equine-Behaviour-Principles-Daniel-Mills/dp/0632048786/ref=pd_sim_14_6?ie=UTF8&dpID=41IhoZQePIL&dpSrc=sims&preST=_AC_UL160_SR111%2C160_&refRID=10EE9ZT2T8ZY0VW7EBX7) is a good one, though it's rather expensive. There are a number of cheaper books on horse behavior too, but I'm not sure which ones would give you the kind of overview you probably want.

I know there are some members who are very steeped in all things horse and work with them professionally and recreationally, so you'll likely get some more input from some of them by tomorrow.

Bren McDonnall
10-26-2015, 11:31 AM
Again, thanks. That's just the sort of thing I'm looking for. I've also bookmarked the article you sent me to and will look into the dog language books. That's another area where this current book could stand some research.

Ariella
10-27-2015, 03:54 AM
Watching nature documentaries on YouTube about wild horses can give you a sense of what stallion vocalizations sound like and how horses fight when they're left to their own devices.

AW Admin
10-27-2015, 04:00 AM
Horses ridden by knights in combat were trained to respond to the knight's cues; they're responding to his movements and vocal commands, not just attacking.

It's more a trained response than instinctive one, though the movements are based on things horses do on their own. But horses ridden by knights in battle were taught specific evasive and aggressive responses to be given on command.

Also, there's a great deal of body language used by horses.

Mares make more noise, in general, than geldings or stallions do. And a lot of the vocalizations are things you don't hear unless you're close.

Bren McDonnall
10-27-2015, 12:09 PM
Maybe slightly off topic, but how likely or unlikely would it be for such a horse to attempt to protect a downed rider?