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Effects of enrichment items on activity and social interactions in domestic horses (Equus caballus)

By Grete Helen Meisfjord Jørgensen, Silje Hanche-Olsen Liestøl, Knut Egil Bøe

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The aim of this study was to investigate the use of items intended to provide enrichment during turnout, both for individual and group kept horses in an attempt to reduce the amount of passive behaviours. The study was divided into two parts, where study 1 involved eight horses rotated through eight individual paddocks, each containing one of seven enrichment items and one paddock being kept without item, functioning as a control. The horses’ item-directed behaviours; passive behaviours or other non-item related activities were scored using instantaneous sampling, every minute for 1h at the beginning and the end of the turnout period. Study 2 involved six horse groups (3–6 horses) and the same scoring methods and ethogram as in study 1. The four items that the horses interacted the most with during study 1 (straw STRA, ball filled with concentrates CBALL, branches BRAN and scratching pole POLE) are investigated in study 2. In addition, the amount of social interactions was recorded. Both horses kept individually (P

Publication Title Applied Animal Behaviour Science
Volume 129
Issue 2
Pages 100-110
ISBN/ISSN 0168-1591
DOI 10.1016/j.applanim.2010.11.004
Cite this work

Researchers should cite this work as follows:

  1. Activity
  2. Behavior and behavior mechanisms
  3. Enrichment
  4. Horses
  5. social interactions