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Effects of size and personality on social learning and human-directed behaviour in horses (Equus caballus)
Linköping University, Department of Physics, Chemistry and Biology, Biology. Linköping University, Faculty of Science & Engineering. (Avian Behav Genom and Physiol Grp)
Linköping University, Department of Physics, Chemistry and Biology, Biology. Linköping University, Faculty of Science & Engineering. (AVIAN Behav Genom and Physiol Grp)
Linköping University, Department of Physics, Chemistry and Biology, Biology. Linköping University, Faculty of Science & Engineering.ORCID iD: 0000-0002-3297-1130
2019 (English)In: Animal Cognition, ISSN 1435-9448, E-ISSN 1435-9456, Vol. 22, no 6, p. 1001-1011Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

Due to our long history of living in close association with horses, these animals are suggested to have enhanced skills in understanding and communicating with humans. Today, horses have become important to humans for sport and leisure and their understanding of human behaviour and their human-directed behaviour are therefore of great importance. In this study, we investigated 22 horses in a human contact-seeking experiment where they were presented with an unsolvable problem and a detour experiment with a human demonstrator. The unsolvable problem consisted of pieces of carrot in a closed bucket and the detour resembled the shape of V. Additionally, personality traits of the participating horses were assessed. Interestingly, the full-sized horses (N=11) showed more human-related behaviours when presented with an unsolvable problem compared to before the carrots were made unreachable (p=0.033), while the ponies (N=11) did not. However, neither the full-sized horses nor the ponies were significantly more successful in the detour after human demonstrations than in control trials. When comparing the two experiments, we found the task-oriented behaviour in the detour test to positively correlate with human proximity and eye contact-seeking behaviour towards humans during the unsolvable problem in the contact-seeking test. Interestingly, again this was only true for the full-sized horses (pamp;lt;0.05) and not for the ponies. From the horse personality questionnaire results, the traits excitability and anxiousness revealed strong negative correlations with human-directed behaviour in the contact-seeking experiment (pamp;lt;0.05). Hence, size (full-sized horse/pony) and personality influenced the human-related behaviours of the horses and we suggest a future focus on these aspects to deepen our understanding of human-horse communication.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
SPRINGER HEIDELBERG , 2019. Vol. 22, no 6, p. 1001-1011
Keywords [en]
Horse; Pony; Social learning; Contact-seeking behaviour; Human-directed behaviour; Interspecies communication
National Category
Psychology (excluding Applied Psychology)
Identifiers
URN: urn:nbn:se:liu:diva-162334DOI: 10.1007/s10071-019-01291-0ISI: 000494828400008PubMedID: 31312981OAI: oai:DiVA.org:liu-162334DiVA, id: diva2:1374070
Available from: 2019-11-28 Created: 2019-11-28 Last updated: 2019-11-28

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Henriksson, JosefineSauveroche, MathildeRoth, Lina
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