In my blogs of November 2014 and February 2016 I discussed in detail how silent horses are and how much horses rely on non verbal communication to interact with one another. Also, how because of their silent nature, nonverbal cuing or body language is the most important way we can learn to communicate with our horses. I recommend to people who come to me for lessons that they should try not to talk
"People who call their horses 'jackasses' usually have horses that act like jackasses." - John Lyons
That having been said, I myself chatter conversationally with my horses pretty much non-stop when I play with them. I'm really good at not following my own advice. While I don't believe my horses understand a word of what I am saying(especially since lately I've switched to broken Spanish) it is just human nature to want to verbalize constantly. I've heard many people say that horses enjoy listening to people talk, and I'm not sure if that is true or if they just become accustomed to the fact that we like hearing our own noises and are comforted that everything must be normal if we are jabbering.
With all the talking going on there is a danger that most people don't think about; and that is disrespect. We all know how important it is to have your horse respect you but it is just as important to show respect to your horse. It is a common understanding that to earn respect from people you must show respect. The same is true for horses. Anyone who has listened to gossip around a barn for very long will have heard many negative things said by riders and owners about horses. This can be a problem because it fosters negative feelings about the horse. While the horse may not understand the words they most certainly understand the feelings behind them. Our words easily direct our emotions and our emotions direct our actions. If we come into our horse's stall, or pen with a bad attitude our horse will only see us as a grumpy predator and will react with either irritation or fear causing the cycle of negativity to get worse.
When a horse makes a mistake it is human nature to blame the horse, assign some bad intention to the horse "He was trying to get me off." "She sure wanted an argument today." I am very guilty of saying such things myself, and still have to fight that bad habit. I have much better rides if, when my horse makes a mistake, I apologize instead of blaming. I am the leader I have to take responsibility for my horse's mistakes. If my horse doesn't do something quite right I will often say to him "I'm sorry, I must not have set you up for that correctly. Let's try that again." or "My bad. My timing was off, try it one more time for me and I'll try to be on the ball this time." These positive changes in choice of word make a huge difference in the way my horse and I work as a team. Not because he understands what I say, but because it keeps me in a much more relaxed and cooperative state of mind.
Be respectful when talking to your horse and about your horse. Your horse is your partner and any partnership will go poorly if one of the parties continually speaks badly about the other or is rude in the way they talk to the other partner. It only takes one half of the partnership to make things better or worse with their attitude.