Do horses have accents?

I think I’m right in saying that chimps have accents? Different packs using slightly different sets of sounds? Can be distinguished by sound recordings?

So, do horses have accents?

To the layman, one horse’s neigh, whinny and snort sounds just like any other horse’s neigh, whinny and snort.

But there are subtle differences. Take that from the horse’s mouth.

Equestrians have long been irritated by the incorrect use of horse noises in film and television productions. Now one of the UK’s leading horse sanctuaries is working with an iconic film sound studio to find the most genuine equine sounds for use on screen.

Redwings, the horse charity, is collaborating on a project in which horse owners across Britain are invited to submit high-quality recordings of their horse neighing, whinnying, snorting or nickering.

Are we about to end up with all the horses in movies having English accents – like the baddies?

29 thoughts on “Do horses have accents?”

  1. Ditto dolphins, I think.

    Equestrians have long been irritated by the incorrect use of horse noises in film and television productions.

    Don’t get me started on when they dubbed a 2 stroke sound onto John Connor’s 4 stroke bike in T2.

  2. I think someone should tell them the slang meaning of the phrase ‘red wings’. There must be a local chapter of the Hells Angels who could assist.

  3. Equestrians have long been irritated by the incorrect use of horse noises in film and television productions


  4. “nickering”? I live and learn.

    Since I haven’t done it for a year or two let me recommend Norwegian mountain ponies for trekking. Marvellously sure-footed: they will carry you down a slope so steep that, unaided, you’d choose to come down on your bum. And when you reach some level ground the wee wonders will gallop for you. Maybe I should find out whether there’s a charity to support them in their old age.

  5. It’s probably the problem discussed in this Grauniad article from January.

    Basically the horse noise you usually hear in films/TV is that of a randy stallion scenting an on heat mare, whatever sort of horse is on screen.

  6. “Now one of the UK’s leading horse sanctuaries is working with an iconic film sound studio to find the most genuine equine sounds for use on screen.”

    Movies aren’t about being genuine. They’re about drama and emotions. The better-sounding horse is what they pick rather than the accurate horse.

  7. In the climactic attack on the bad guy’s base in Kick Ass, Hit Girl takes out most of the bad guys in an epic shoot out while running down a corridor.

    I once read someone complaining on-line that the scene was unrealistic because Hit Girl fires too many shots before having to reload.

    Not unrealistic because Hit Girl is 10 years old.

  8. When did equestrians become a protected group? Their sensibilities mean nothing to me.

    Find a busty equestrienne who is irritated, and I might give a shist.

    And, no, an ethnic, gay equestrian won’t get my attention, either.

    File this under “First World Problem.”

  9. @dearieme
    Norwegian mountain ponies are (I would imagine) closely related to Icelandic ‘horses’, which share many of these characteristics.

  10. @Roué le Jour June 30, 2019 at 9:14 am

    “dubbed a 2 stroke sound onto 4 stroke bike” and 4 stroke onto an MX bike, Harley onto a Jap inline 4; V8 onto an Audi Quattro etc

    It’s incredibly annoying and ruins plot.

    Also: BBC drama eg New Tricks “Brain Man” Brian “When we achieve Nuclear Fusion power…”; Spooks “The sub (in Med) is heading East towards Washington or London”

    As for guns – the repeated arm/eject but don’t fire and infinite bullets in handgun – arrgghh

    Yes, it’s drama/movie, but factual accuracy/reality should be maintained.

  11. In Dirty Harry, the number of shots fired is central to the plot. But in the book (by the Fink brothers), it’s about whether Callahan keeps an empty chamber under the trigger (as per SFPD regs), not “did I fire six shots, or only five?”

  12. Chris Miller
    June 30, 2019 at 8:06 am

    Birds have regional accents, too.

    You can always tell a Liverpool bird (but you can’t tell her much).

  13. Batman TV show decades ago . . . Joker has Batman and Robin pinned down behind the Batscreen. He’s shooting at them with a machine gun. Batman stands up.

    Robin: He’ll shoot you!

    Batman: He’s out of ammo.

    Robin: How do you know that?

    Batman: I counted his shots.

  14. I would have expected horses to have accents. IIRC there was a study a few years ago which determined that cows do – so why not horses. I would expect any species with settled location to develop such variances – while species that routinely migrate around and “mix” might retain some sort of common dialect.
    As to the side discussion about on-screen inaccuracies – it annoys me too. I recall annoying my parents during an episode of Morse (when they were first shown) by commenting that from Oriel Square “you can’t drive up that road, it’s a one way street; and you can’t turn right there and end up at the police station” (he’d have had to turn left). Oh, and that car advert from years ago where they showed the moon crossing over the sun in an eclipse – but the shadow approached from the wrong direction on the ground !
    But many years ago, with a different job hat on, we dealt with Apple computers – they had a whole book on media stuff. If they were doing loan (quite common for “product exposure”) equipment for theatrical stuff (film, TV, etc), they had rules such as “all cables must be installed” – so a computer actually had to have a main cable attached, the keyboard and mouse plugged in, etc. None of this “computer there but you can see it’s got no untidy cables attached” stuff !

  15. @Simon

    +1 I too am guilty of annoying my parents/wife/friends during an episode of whatever by pointing out errors.

    I’m not looking for them, they simply jump out. Recent Silent Witness ep had a baddie attacking someone in a forest at night wearing a welding mask. FFS even in daylight you see nothing

  16. Re location inaccuracies. Reminds me of the TV movie “Bloody Kids”. Guy is stabbed in the car park of the football ground in Southend, is bundled into the back of a cop car and the next scene is the car hurtling along the seafront. Anyone familiar with the area knows the hospital is a couple of minutes north of the ground whereas the seafront is several minutes south. The magic of the movies!

  17. Great, now I’m going to have this song in my head all day

    Go right to the source and ask the horse
    He’ll tell you the answer that you’ll endorse
    He’s always on a steady course
    Talk to Mr Ed

  18. I never noticed this until my wife pointed it out, but every time a horse is shown on TV there is a horse noise of some sort in the soundtrack. Apparently the producers think you won’t recognize the horse unless you’re prompted by the sound.

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