Temperament in preweanling horses: Development of reactions to humans and novelty, and startle responses

Publication Type:
Journal Article
Year of Publication:
L. Lansade, M. F. Bouissou, X. Boivin
Developmental Psychobiology
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00121630 10982302

The purpose of this study was to investigate the development and the stability across situations and over time of three temperament traits in young foals: propensity to react to humans, propensity to react to novelty, and propensity to react to suddenness. In a comparative study, we examined the reactions of animals in three independent groups (N = 27) tested at 3, 12, and 24 weeks of age, respectively. We observed that human avoidance and novel object approach behaviors are quasi inexistent in the group tested at 3 weeks, but are more and more present in the groups tested at subsequent ages. In a longitudinal study, we tested 48 foals successively at 3, 6, 12, and 24 weeks of age. Since reactions appear progressively with time, no stability over time or across situations was found. However, once a foal manifests a behavioral reaction at a given age, it will always reproduce this reaction subsequently.


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