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Exploring Synchronicity in the Heart Rates of Familiar and Unfamiliar Pairs of Horses and Humans Undertaking an In-Hand Task

By Jo Hockenhull, Tamsin J. Young, Sarah E. Redgate, Lynda Birke

Category Journal Articles
Abstract

Physiological responses that occur in horses and humans during their interactions, on the ground and during ridden work, have been investigated in a number of studies with some conflicting results. These suggest that in some situations emotional state may be transferred from humans to horses and that there is the potential for the heart rates of horse–human pairs to become synchronized during ridden work. Here we explore the effect of familiarity on the physiological responses of horse–human pairs completing a task in-hand, using heart rate as an indicator for emotional state. We investigated differences in heart rate response between familiar and unfamiliar pairings and the possibility of heart rate synchronization within each pair. Complete sets of horse and human heart rate data were available for 17 horses. We found a significant order affect, with higher horse heart rates seen the first time around the course regardless of whether a familiar or unfamiliar handler was leading (Wilcoxon test: Z=–2.67, p

Publication Title Anthrozoös
Volume 28
Issue 3
Pages 501-511
ISBN/ISSN 0892-7936
DOI 10.1080/08927936.2015.1052284
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Tags
  1. Anxiety
  2. Family
  3. Heart rate
  4. Human-animal relationships