السبت 22 يونيو 2024

Long-Term Horse-Owner Relationship Helps Horses Cope With Change

موقع أيام نيوز

A new study shows that horses can be more reluctant in new situations if they have multiple riders or have had several owners, or if the horse has been with its current owner for only a short time. 

The international research team, including scientists from Turku and Helsinki Universities in Finland and the INRAE of Nouzilly in France, studied interactions between horses and humans as well as how horses react in new situations. The findings are published in Applied Animal Behaviour Science

Over the millennia horses have been living with humans, they have developed impressive social skills — they are receptive to human emotions and are very good at understanding human demands.

“Domestic horses may spend several hours daily in close contact with humans, which can affect horse welfare, physiology, and behaviour,” says the lead author of the study, Doctoral Researcher Océane Liehrmann from the Department of Biology at the University of Turku, Finland.

“Therefore, it is important to understand which factors can influence the horses’ emotions during interactions with humans and what shapes their relationship — particularly in novel situations that can be very stressful to the animals.”

The researchers recruited 76 privately owned leisure horses from the Turku area to perform two behavioural tests, in which they observed and analysed the horses’ reactions to novel objects. 

In the first test, horses were led to walk on two surfaces that were new to them: a white tarpaulin sheet and a fluffy blanket. They were led to one of the surfaces by their owner and to the other one by an unfamiliar researcher.

Secondly, the researchers studied whether, when presented with a new