CZAAWE Resource Article

First Suckling: A Crucial Event for Mother–Young Attachment? An Experimental Study in Horses (Equus caballus)
Publication Type 
Journal Article
Year of publication 
Journal of Comparative Psychology
1939-2087 0735-7036
This study investigates the consequences of interference during first suckling for subsequent mare-young attachment in horses (Equus caballus). Foals brought to their dams' teats appeared, at later ages (1-3 months), to remain closer to their dams and to play less than control foals that had been allowed to suckle spontaneously. Higher levels of play and distance initiatives from the mother are considered criteria for secure attachment in horses, humans, and other species. As this unique handling was the only event that distinguished experimental from control groups, the authors concluded that first suckling is a crucial event in the development of secure dam-young attachment. These results could have important implications for all mammal species, including humans.