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Icelandic horses with the Silver coat colour show altered behaviour in a fear reaction test

By Emma Brunberg, Sanna Gille, Sofia Mikko, Gabriella Lindgren, Linda J. Keeling

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The colour of a horse's coat has long been discussed to reflect its temperament. One opinion is that Silver coloured horses are nervous, difficult to handle and react more strongly to different fear stimuli. The objective with the present study was to investigate if mutations associated with the Silver coat colour affect fear reactions in Icelandic horses. The hypothesis was that horses with the Silver mutation Arg618Cys in PMEL show stronger fear reactions than horses without the mutation (e.g. Black/Brown or Chestnut horses). Twenty-seven Icelandic horses (nine Silver, nine Chestnuts and nine Black/Brown) matched for sire, were exposed to the fear stimulus (a suddenly moving plastic bag) while feeding from a container. The test was repeated five times and behavioural responses and latency to return to the feed container were recorded. All horses were genotyped for the Silver mutation. The proportion of Silver horses that were hesitant to approach the test set-up before each trial was significantly higher (P

Publication Title Applied Animal Behaviour Science
Volume 146
Issue 1
Pages 72-78
ISBN/ISSN 0168-1591
DOI 10.1016/j.applanim.2013.04.005
Cite this work

Researchers should cite this work as follows:

  1. Animal welfare
  2. Fear
  3. Fur
  4. Genetics
  5. Horses
  6. temperament