762 Grahams Woods Rd Newville Pa 17241 USA 717-226-0692

Rhody Ranch

Barn LifeHorses 101

Why doesn’t my horse come when I call them?


Do you speak horse? Can you Whinny? Horses primarily use body language to communicate when in close proximity to one another. At distance they will call out or whinny to other horse.

The latter seems to be for locating herd members, call out a warning or communicate some other bit of information over a distance. There are the rare few, who when their name is called by their human, will come at a trot a run to greet you. I’m fairly certain they are the exception. When you call their name I don’t know that they actually recognize the word and associate it with themselves, but rather recognize the sound you make when you address them. So, the real question becomes, what do they associate that sound with? I personally make it a point that when I say Sonny’s name or Belle’s name its reinforced with a greeting of some sort, some scratching of itchy spots, or some treats. Most of the time this happens when we’re doing ground work of some kind or another.

Their hearing is excellent and their reasoning skills are top notch, so its only logical to assume they’re associating the sound you make when you are addressing them to experience they have with you. Of course, there are other factors involved. What they might happen to be doing at the time when you’re calling to them. They might be having nap, or have just found a patch of really yummy clover. It comes down to their personality and motivation. You should never take it personally if they don’t come when you call. Now, if they run away at your call, or on your approach that is something altogether different and is definitely worth looking into.

These are, of course, my observations based on personal experience. Your mileage may vary. I’ve learned that a lot of all this hinges directly to the relationship you share with your hoses(s).

~Mark Weaver
If you're willing to learn there are many teachers. Not all of them are human!