OKAY short of telepathy this is the best way to talk to babies. We taught my younger brother sign language when he was a baby. We still use some of the signs, usually water and potty, especially in public.

I’ve only known how to speak one language. Everyone knows language is made up of words and words have meaning whether you ‘sound out’ words or your hands create words.

My brother shared how he was once asked to prepare a speech on words. He said he considered this assignment difficult because he couldn’t think of what to say. I thought about this and decided what speech I would have prepared. I would have said words are everything. I can not imagine a world without them. Words convey love, encouragement, sympathy, hope, well wishing, congratulations, comfort, and trust – not only to humans, but animals as well. Words convey information as well as urgency sometimes. We are taught to ‘choose our words wisely.’ Not only the ‘words’ we say are meaningful, but how we say them is meaningful. On many occasions, I have called friends just to hear the sounds of words because it made me feel connected and comforted.

Much of my life revolves around animals, so I consider how words apply to these speechless creatures. When training horses, we use ‘aides’ to train and direct them. Aides include hands on the reins to communicate to the horse, legs on their sides- also to communicate, shifting weight sends messages, and sometimes an artificial aide-such as a crop or spurs is used.

An additional aide I rely on is my voice. Tone and words convey messages to horses as well as most animals. Horses are smart and able to learn words such as trot, canter, walk, and ‘ho’ for stop. This is apparent when instructors ask riders to command the horse, and, at the words of the instructor, the horse obeys before the rider executes the request. Some instructors change the words for basic commands to avoid this, but smart horses learn the new words as well.

One day, my pacer – Mattie – and I were jogging when she kicked up at a fly. When her leg came down, she straddled the shaft. ‘Oh no,” I thought. I asked her to stop on the track. I talked to her as she allowed me to remove her harness, free her from the cart, move her leg over the lowered shaft, put her harness back on, reattach the cart to the harness, and jump back onto the jog cart to continue jogging. She calmly obeyed even though other horses jogged by her. This is amazing trust because racing horses are often excited to race when around other horses. Mattie stood with me quietly and calmly as I talked to her and asked her to stand still. She knew my voice and we safely corrected a potentially disastrous situation.

Words. I make sure I use them to communicate the pets in my life, but also to tell people I love and appreciate how much I do. I want them to hear the words I hold in my heart for them as well as show them every time I am able.

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  1. I have often wondered what it would be like to NOT be able to hear words, or music. I know my life is richer because I can.

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