Animal Welfare: Could Adult Play be a False Friend?

There is no consensus regarding the functions of play. As play behavior is a characteristic of young stages of development, it has been suggested that the higher prevalence of adult play observed in domestic animals could be the result of their “neotenic retardation.” Functional hypotheses have dealt with the long term benefits, such as “rehearsal,” […]

Farm Animal Cognition—Linking Behavior, Welfare and Ethics

Farm animal welfare is a major concern for society and food production. To more accurately evaluate animal farming in general and to avoid exposing farm animals to poor welfare situations, it is necessary to understand not only their behavioural but also their cognitive needs and capacities. Thus, general knowledge of how farm animals perceive and […]

Dietary-induced modulation of the hindgut microbiota is related to behavioral responses during stressful events in horses

The bidirectional communication between the central and the enteric nervous system named the gut-brain axis has been widely recognized. The gut microbiota has been implicated in a variety of stress-related conditions including anxiety, depression and irritable bowel syndrome based on rodent studies or correlative analysis in human patients. The aim of the present study was […]

Cardiac activity and salivary cortisol concentration of leisure horses in response to the presence of an audience in the arena

The aim of this study was to determine the influence of different forms of an audience’s behavior on the heart work parameters and salivary cortisol level of leisure horses during work. Twelve horses were studied at rest, during standardized work, and at recovery. There was no audience in the arena in the control variant, whereas […]

Evaluating the Addition of Positive Reinforcement for Learning a Frightening Task: A Pilot Study With Horses

Horse training often relies upon negative reinforcement (NR). This study tested the hypothesis that adding positive reinforcement (PR) to NR would enhance learning in horses (n = 34) being taught to walk over a tarp (novel/typically frightening task). Subjects were Arabians, and the same person handled all of them. This person handled half “traditionally” (NR […]

Preliminary Investigations Into the Ethological Relevance of Round-Pen (Round-Yard) Training of Horses

Recently, training horses within round-pens has increased in popularity. Practitioners often maintain that the responses they elicit from horses are similar to signals used with senior conspecifics. To audit the responses of horses to conspecifics, 6 mare-young-horse dyads, this study introduced them to each other in a round-pen and videoed them for 8 min. These […]

Measuring the heat loss in horses in different seasons by infrared thermography

It is necessary to consider breed and cold tolerance in the housing and caring of horses. This study demonstrates differences in heat loss between horse types at low temperatures and examines rate of loss in different types during different seasons. Eighteen horses participated. Groups by type were light (L), warmblood (W), coldblood (C), and pony […]

Immunocontraception and increased longevity in equids

Abstract 10.1002/zoo.20109.abs Intensive population management by means of fertility control has been shown to change the age profile of a wild horse herd. The primary change has been an increase in the number and percent of older animals, as expected, but also the appearance of new and older age classes. An examination of direct effects […]

Horses use procedural learning rather than conceptual learning to solve matching to sample

Research into higher cognitive abilities of the horse may be limited by developing the adequate experimental design. In this study four pony mares between 8 and 19 years old were included. Three of them reached the criterion to be tested in a new design of matching to sample using a black circle and a cross […]

Suckling behaviour in domestic foals and the development of abnormal oral behaviour

We investigated how the behaviour of domestic foals, Equus caballus, living at pasture with their dams was associated with foal gender, mare rank and the development of abnormal oral behaviour, both during the preweaning period, and over a period of up to 4 years postweaning. A population of 186 foals belonging to private owners and […]