This is a nice handbook for increasing understanding between horses and people, written by a veterinarian with the ability to think outside the square to use non-traditional methods and treatments to help horses.
At the crux of the book is how horses communicate – it is all right there, it is the human who usually does not interpret the signs correctly.
Communication is a huge topic, and this encompasses how horses interact with us, other horses, and objects, is also explored.
The book starts out with “the original” wild horse, the takhi or przewalksi’s horse, their history and the characteristics of the horse – equus.
A topic which may cause discussion among some horsemen is the chapter “Horses have brains and feelings”. No surprise to the majority of those who have a rapport with horses. And, as the author points out, horses share sensory and vegetative potential with humans – including generative faculties and memory, imagination and instinct.
Neighs and Whispers – A study of contact and communication with horses
by Anahí Zlotnik
Nottingham University Press, ISBN 978-1-908062-58-1
Softcover, 164pp, RRP £25; ebook £20.83
Available from Amazon (US) or Amazon (UK)
The different types of learning that the horse may demonstrate are discussed, such as habituation, imprinting, conditioning or association, observation or social learning, latent, and discernment (insight) or problem solving.
An interesting observation on social learning includes: “In general, mares how trust men have self-confident foals. Foals learn from their mothers how to behave with humans.”
There are lots of case studies and real-life examples throughout.
Further chapters include Intelligence and Leadership, Teaching and games, and Communication – signals, identity, and much more.
Finally there is a chapter with case studies title “What can we learn from the most intelligent horses?”
Neighs and Whispers is well illustrated with colour and black and white photographs, as well as historic artwork featuring the horse.
Final word from the author: “My wish is that readers keep an open mind and learn to question. There is still so much to learn about animals and with them.”
Anahí Zlotnik is a veterinarian who was part of the Spanish Veterinary Team of the World Equestrian Games of Jerez de la Frontera in Spain and an expounder in the Neurology, Behavior, and Natural Veterinary Horsemanship Congress in the Faculty of Córdoba.