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Toward a Choice-Based Judgment Bias Task for Horses

By Sara Hintze, Emma Roth, Iris Bachmann, Hanno Würbel

Category Journal Articles
Abstract

Judgment bias tasks for nonhuman animals are promising tools to assess emotional valence as a measure of animal welfare. In view of establishing a valid judgment bias task for horses, the present study aimed to evaluate 2 versions (go/no-go and active choice) of an auditory judgment bias task for horses in terms of acquisition learning and discrimination of ambiguous cues. Five mares and 5 stallions were randomly assigned to the 2 designs and trained for 10 trials per day to acquire different operant responses to a low-frequency tone and a high-frequency tone, respectively. Following acquisition learning, horses were tested on 4 days with 3 ambiguous-tone trials interspersed between the 10 high-tone and low-tone trials. All 5 go/no-go horses but only one active-choice horse successfully learned their task, indicating that it is more difficult to train horses on an active choice task than on a go/no-go task. During testing, however, go/no-go horses did not differentiate between the 3 different ambiguous cues, thereby making the validity of the test results questionable in terms of emotional valence.

Publication Title Journal of Applied Animal Welfare Science
Volume 20
Issue 2
Pages 123-136
ISBN/ISSN 1088-8705
DOI 10.1080/10888705.2016.1276834
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Tags
  1. Animal welfare
  2. Emotions
  3. Horses
  4. moods