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A novel approach to systematically compare behavioural patterns between and within groups of horses

By Andrea D. Ellis, Melissa Stephenson, Michaela Preece, Pat Harris

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Abstract

This study piloted a multiple aspect approach to assess differences or changes in equine behaviour, using physiological (heart rates – HR, salivary cortisol – SC) and behavioural measures in various routine (feed-time, riding, turning out) and test situations (novel situation tests NS: 2× reactivity and 2× handling, Cross-over design). In order to evaluate if this approach could identify different behavioural patterns, two distinct groups of riding school horses (selected by experienced equine professionals) were observed repeatedly over 6 weeks: 6 excitable/nervous horses (EX: Age: mean=14±3.4, 8–18yrs, BW 677±48kg, Body Condition [BC]=4.6±0.4) and 6 calm, quiet horses (CA: Age: mean=16±2.5, 12–18yrs, BW 645±35, BC 5.1±0.4). EX horses had consistently lower SC levels than CA horses (p

Publication Title Applied Animal Behaviour Science
Volume 161
Pages 60-74
ISBN/ISSN 0168-1591
DOI 10.1016/j.applanim.2014.09.017
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Tags
  1. Behavior and behavior mechanisms
  2. Heart rate
  3. Horses
  4. saliva
  5. temperament