How owners determine if the social and behavioral needs of their horses are being met: Findings from an Australian online survey

Horse owners and carers are responsible for judging the health and welfare status of animals in their care, deciding if and when professional advice should be sought and following any recommendations for treatment. However, little is known about how horse owners perceive and determine the well-being of horses in their care, or the themes that […]

Effect of density and relative aggressiveness on agonistic and affiliative interactions in a newly formed group of horses

Group housing provides horses with social contact, a lack of which is associated with health and behavior problems. Despite the benefits of group housing for horses, horse owners are concerned about aggression and resulting injuries. This study focused on agonistic and affiliative interactions in a focal group of (originally) 12 horses with short-term and longer […]

Is There Evidence of Learned Helplessness in Horses?

Learned helplessness is a psychological condition whereby individuals learn that they have no control over unpleasant or harmful conditions, that their actions are futile, and that they are helpless. In a series of experiments in which dogs were exposed to inescapable shocks, this lack of control subsequently interfered with the ability to learn an avoidance […]

Don’t Fence Me In: Managing Psychological Well Being for Elite Performance Horses

This article posits that stereotypical behavior patterns and the overall psychological well being of today’s performance horse could be substantially enhanced with care that acknowledges the relationship between domesticated horses and their forerunners. Feral horses typically roam in stable, social groups over large grazing territories, spending 16-20 hr per day foraging on mid- to poor-quality […]

The positive aspects of correct negative reinforcement

In the scheme of contemporary animal training, horse training is virtually unique because it relies on negative reinforcement (NR) rather than positive reinforcement (PR). Furthermore, horse trainers are largely unaware that they are using NR in training. Instead, they believe in the benevolent nature of the horse and see their task in training as one […]

The Hearing Ability of Horses

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Horses: Behavior and welfare assessment

The behavior of horses, as with other species, can be an important indicator of their welfare. Obvious changes occur with disease process, but others can reflect subtle changes in environment too. Stereotypies are relatively common in horses and are generally considered to be an indicator of poor welfare. Recent research indicates that the situation may […]

Positive interactions lead to lasting positive memories in horses, Equus caballus

Social relationships are important in social species. These relationships, based on repeated interactions, define each partner’s expectations during the following encounters. The creation of a relationship implies high social cognitive abilities which require that each partner is able to associate the positive or negative content of an interaction with a specific partner and to recall […]

Assessment of pregnancy in the late-gestation mare using digital infrared thermography

The objective of this study was to investigate use of digital infrared thermal imaging (DITI) to determine whether surface temperature gradient differences exist between pregnant and nonpregnant mares as a noncontact method to determine pregnancy status. On the day measurements were collected, each pregnant mare (n=10; beginning at 292.4±1.4 d of gestation) was paired with […]

Discrimination between conspecific odour samples in the horse (Equus caballus)

Behavioural observations suggest that smell is important in social discriminations between horses but balanced studies of this capacity are lacking. We used a habituation–discrimination procedure to investigate the ability of horses to distinguish between pairs of odour samples from different individuals. In Study 1, separate tests were conducted for urine, faeces or fleece fabric previously […]