|   | 
Details
   web
Records
Author (up) Ahrendt, L.P.; Christensen, J.W.; Ladewig, J.
Title The ability of horses to learn an instrumental task through social observation Type Abstract
Year 2012 Publication Applied Animal Behaviour Science Abbreviated Journal Appl. Anim. Behav. Sci.
Volume 139 Issue 1 Pages 105-113
Keywords Horse; Social learning; Social interaction; Instrumental task; Investigative behaviour; Aggression
Abstract The ability of horses to learn through social observation may ease the implementation of new management systems, because the use of automatic feeders etc. by naive horses could be facilitated by observation of experienced horses. However, previous studies found no documentation for observational learning abilities in horses. This study aimed to investigate the ability of horses to learn an instrumental task from a familiar conspecific when social interaction was allowed during the demonstration. Two similar experiments were performed. In the first experiment, Observer horses (n=11) participated in ten successive demonstrations, where a trained Demonstrator opened an operant device by pushing a sliding lid aside with the muzzle in order to obtain a food reward. Immediately after the demonstrations the Observer horses were given the opportunity to operate the device alone. Control horses (n=11) were aware that the device contained food but were presented to the operant device without demonstration of the task. The learning criterion was at least two openings. Accomplishment of and latency to accomplish the learning criterion, and investigative behaviour towards the operant device were recorded. Five Observers and one Control, out of the eleven horses in each treatment group, accomplished the learning criterion. Even though this presents a high odds ratio (OR) in favour of the Observer treatment (OR=7.6), there was no significant difference between the treatment groups (P=0.15). Analysis of investigative behaviour showed, however, that the demonstrations increased the motivation of the Observer horses to investigate the device. Subsequently, a similar experiment was performed in a practical setting with 44 test horses (mixed age, gender and breed). We used the same operant device and the same number and type of demonstrations, although the horses were held on a loose rope to minimise aggression. In this second experiment, six of 23 Observer horses and five of 21 Control horses learned the instrumental task, representing no influence of the demonstration. Thus, this study did not demonstrate an ability of horses to learn an instrumental task through observation.
Address
Corporate Author Thesis
Publisher Place of Publication Editor
Language Summary Language Original Title
Series Editor Series Title Abbreviated Series Title
Series Volume Series Issue Edition
ISSN 0168-1591 ISBN Medium
Area Expedition Conference
Notes Approved no
Call Number Equine Behaviour @ team @ S0168-1591(12)00087-1 Serial 5773
Permanent link to this record
 

 
Author (up) Ahrendt, L.P.; Labouriau, R.; Malmkvist, J.; Nicol, C.J.; Christensen, J.W.
Title Development of a standard test to assess negative reinforcement learning in horses Type Journal Article
Year 2015 Publication Applied Animal Behaviour Science Abbreviated Journal Appl. Anim. Behav. Sci.
Volume 169 Issue Pages 38-42
Keywords Algometry; Horse behaviour; Learning performance; Operant conditioning; Pressure-release; Horse training
Abstract Most horses are trained by negative reinforcement. Currently, however, no standardised test for evaluating horses' negative reinforcement learning ability is available. The aim of this study was to develop an objective test to investigate negative reinforcement learning in horses. Twenty-four Icelandic horses (3 years old) were included in this study. The horses were tested in a pressure-release task on three separate days with 10, 7 and 5 trials on each side, respectively. Each trial consisted of pressure being applied on the hindquarter with an algometer. The force of the pressure was increased until the horse moved laterally away from the point of pressure. There was a significant decrease in required force over trials on the first test day (P<0.001), but not the second and third day. The intercepts on days 2 and 3 differed significantly from day 1 (P<0.001), but not each other. Significantly stronger force was required on the right side compared to the left (P<0.001), but there was no difference between first and second side tested (P=0.56). Individual performance was evaluated by median-force and the change in force over trials on the first test day. These two measures may explain different characteristics of negative reinforcement learning. In conclusion, this study presents a novel, standardised test for evaluating negative reinforcement learning ability in horses.
Address
Corporate Author Thesis
Publisher Place of Publication Editor
Language Summary Language Original Title
Series Editor Series Title Abbreviated Series Title
Series Volume Series Issue Edition
ISSN 0168-1591 ISBN Medium
Area Expedition Conference
Notes Approved no
Call Number Equine Behaviour @ team @ Serial 6650
Permanent link to this record
 

 
Author (up) Christensen, J.W.
Title Object habituation in horses: Voluntary vs. negatively reinforced approach to frightening stimuli Type Conference Article
Year 2012 Publication Proceedings of the 2. International Equine Science Meeting Abbreviated Journal Proc. 2. Int. Equine. Sci. Mtg
Volume in press Issue Pages
Keywords Habituation; learning; fearfulness; stress; reinforcement
Abstract The ability and ease of horses to habituate to frightening stimuli greatly increases safety in the horse-human relationship. Several different techniques have been suggested for habituation training of horses and under certain conditions, preventing animals from avoidance reactions during exposure to frightening stimuli is believed to facilitate habituation. Response prevention does, however, lead to a loss of control, which is a known stress inducer in both animals and humans. This experiment investigated whether horses show increased stress responses when negatively reinforced to approach a mildly frightening stimulus, compared to horses allowed to voluntarily explore the same stimulus. We further investigated whether the prevention of avoidance responses in horses that are negatively reinforced to approach the stimulus, facilitates habituation to the stimulus. Twenty-two 2-3 years old Danish warmblood geldings were included in the study. Half of the horses (NR group) were negatively reinforced (through halter and rope pressure) by a familiar human handler to approach a collection of frightening objects (six open and colourful umbrellas) placed in a semi-circle in a familiar test arena. The other half of the horses were released in the arena and were free to avoid or explore the objects (VOL group). On the next day, all horses were exposed to the objects again without a human to investigate the rate of habituation. Behavioural and heart rate responses were recorded on both days. Data were analysed in a two way repeated measures ANOVA and post hoc analysed via the Holm-Sidak method. In the VOL group, all horses initially chose to avoid the unknown objects, whereas the handler managed to get all horses in the NR group to approach and stand next to the objects within the first 2-min session. As expected, horses in the NR group had a significantly longer duration of alertness (sec, mean ± se: NR: 23 ± 4.1 vs. VOL: 16 ± 4.7, P=0.026) and a higher max HR in the first session (bpm, mean ± se: NR: 106 ± 5.2 vs. VOL: 88 ± 4.4, P=0.004). On the next day, however, the NR horses spent significantly less time investigating the objects (sec, mean ± se: NR: 13 ± 4.1 vs. VOL: 24 ± 6.0, P=0.005) and had a shorter latency to approach a feed container, placed next to the objects (sec, mean ± se: NR: 25 ± 3.9 vs. VOL: 47 ± 16.2, P=0.031), indicating increased habituation. In conclusion, negatively reinforced approach to mildly frightening objects appears to increase stress responses during the initial exposure, but also to facilitate habituation in young horses.
Address
Corporate Author Christensen, J.W. Thesis
Publisher Xenophon Publishing Place of Publication Wald Editor Krueger, K.
Language Summary Language Original Title
Series Editor Series Title Abbreviated Series Title
Series Volume Series Issue Edition
ISSN 978-3-9808134-26 ISBN Medium
Area Expedition Conference
Notes Approved no
Call Number Equine Behaviour @ team @ Serial 5499
Permanent link to this record
 

 
Author (up) Christensen, J.W.; Ahrendt, L.P.; Lintrup, R.; Gaillard, C.; Palme, R.; Malmkvist, J.
Title Does learning performance in horses relate to fearfulness, baseline stress hormone, and social rank? Type Abstract
Year 2012 Publication Applied Animal Behaviour Science Abbreviated Journal App Anim Behav Sci
Volume 140 Issue 1 Pages 44-52
Keywords Horse; Learning; Fearfulness; Stress; Reinforcement; Social rank
Abstract The ability of horses to learn and remember new tasks is fundamentally important for their use by humans. Fearfulness may, however, interfere with learning, because stimuli in the environment can overshadow signals from the rider or handler. In addition, prolonged high levels of stress hormones can affect neurons within the hippocampus; a brain region central to learning and memory. In a series of experiments, we aimed to investigate the link between performance in two learning tests, the baseline level of stress hormones, measured as faecal cortisol metabolites (FCM), fearfulness, and social rank. Twenty-five geldings (2 or 3 years old) pastured in one group were included in the study. The learning tests were performed by professional trainers and included a number of predefined stages during which the horses were gradually trained to perform exercises, using either negative (NR) or positive reinforcement (PR). Each of the learning tests lasted 3 days; 7min/horse/day. The NR test was repeated in a novel environment. Performance, measured as final stage in the training programme, and heart rate (HR) were recorded. Faeces were collected on four separate days where the horses had been undisturbed at pasture for 48h. Social rank was determined through observations of social interactions during feeding. The fear test was a novel object test during which behaviour and HR were recorded. Performance in the NR and PR learning tests did not correlate. In the NR test, there was a significant, negative correlation between performance and HR in the novel environment (rS=-0.66, P<0.001, i.e. nervous horses had reduced performance), whereas there was no such correlation in the home environment (both NR and PR). Behavioural reactions in the fear test correlated significantly with performance in the NR test in the novel environment (e.g. object alertness and final stage: rS=-0.43, P=0.04), suggesting that performance under unfamiliar, stressful conditions may be predicted by behavioural responses in a fear test. There was a negative correlation between social rank and baseline stress hormones (rS=-0.43, P=0.04), i.e. high rank corresponded to low FCM concentrations, whereas neither rank nor FCM correlated with fearfulness or learning performance. We conclude that performance under stressful conditions is affected by activation of the sympathetic nervous system during training and related to behavioural responses in a standardised fear test. Learning performance in the home environment, however, appears unrelated to fearfulness, social rank and baseline FCM levels.
Address
Corporate Author Thesis
Publisher Place of Publication Editor
Language Summary Language Original Title
Series Editor Series Title Abbreviated Series Title
Series Volume Series Issue Edition
ISSN 0168-1591 ISBN Medium
Area Expedition Conference
Notes Approved no
Call Number Equine Behaviour @ team @ S0168-1591(12)00168-2 Serial 5769
Permanent link to this record
 

 
Author (up) Christensen, J.W.; Beekmans, M.; van Dalum, M.; VanDierendonck, M.
Title Effects of hyperflexion on acute stress responses in ridden dressage horses Type Journal Article
Year 2014 Publication Physiology & Behavior Abbreviated Journal Physiol. Behav.
Volume 128 Issue Pages 39-45
Keywords Behaviour; Dressage; Horse; Hyperflexion; Rein tension; Stress
Abstract The effects of hyperflexion on the welfare of dressage horses have been debated. This study aimed to investigate acute stress responses of dressage horses ridden in three different Head-and-Neck-positions (HNPs). Fifteen dressage horses were ridden by their usual rider in a standardised 10-min dressage programme in either the competition frame (CF), hyperflexion (“Low-Deep-and-Round”; LDR) or a looser frame (LF) in a balanced order on three separate test days. Heart rate (HR), heart rate variability parameters (HRV), behaviour and rein tension were recorded during the test. Salivary cortisol concentrations were measured 60min before and 0, 5, 15 and 30min after the test. Rein tension was significantly lower in LF and did not differ between CF and LDR; however approx. 15% of recordings in CF and LDR were above the sensor detection limit of 5kg. The horses had significantly higher cortisol concentrations directly after LDR compared to LF. In addition, the horses showed more distinctive head movements, including head waving, during LDR. There were no significant treatment effects on HR and HRV. In conclusion, the results indicate that LDR may be more stressful to these horses during riding.
Address
Corporate Author Thesis
Publisher Place of Publication Editor
Language Summary Language Original Title
Series Editor Series Title Abbreviated Series Title
Series Volume Series Issue Edition
ISSN 0031-9384 ISBN Medium
Area Expedition Conference
Notes Approved no
Call Number Equine Behaviour @ team @ Serial 6507
Permanent link to this record
 

 
Author (up) Christensen, J.W.; Keeling, L.J.; Nielsen, B.L.
Title Responses of horses to novel visual, olfactory and auditory stimuli Type Journal Article
Year 2005 Publication Applied Animal Behaviour Science Abbreviated Journal Appl. Anim. Behav. Sci.
Volume 93 Issue 1-2 Pages 53-65
Keywords Horses; Novelty responses; Fear; Behaviour; Heart rate
Abstract Responses of horses towards fear-eliciting stimuli can have important consequences for both human and horse safety. This experiment was designed to investigate behavioural and heart rate (HR) responses of horses to novel visual, auditory and olfactory stimuli. Twenty-four 2-year-old, previously unhandled, stallions were habituated to receive a food reward from a container in a test arena. Each horse was exposed to three 2 min tests in a balanced design where in addition to the feed container, either a traffic cone (visual test), white noise (auditory test) or eucalyptus oil applied to the inside of the container (olfactory test) were used as the novel stimuli. Compared to the control, less time was spent eating during all tests. There was no difference in locomotion activity in the different test situations, but presentation of the novel visual and auditory stimuli elicited significantly increased HR responses in the horses, compared to their response to the arena without novel stimuli (control), whereas there was no increase in HR response to the olfactory stimulus. However, during the olfactory test, the horses had an increased number of eating bouts and became more vigilant towards their surroundings, whereas during the visual and auditory tests, more time was spent alert towards the stimulus. The horses also took significantly more steps backwards in response to the auditory test. The heart rate responses correlated between tests and reflect a non-differentiated activation of the sympathetic nervous system, while the behavioural responses were linked to the type of stimulus.
Address
Corporate Author Thesis
Publisher Place of Publication Editor
Language Summary Language Original Title
Series Editor Series Title Abbreviated Series Title
Series Volume Series Issue Edition
ISSN ISBN Medium
Area Expedition Conference
Notes Approved no
Call Number Equine Behaviour @ team @ Serial 2256
Permanent link to this record
 

 
Author (up) Christensen, J.W.; Ladewig, J.; Sondergaard, E.; Malmkvist, J.
Title Effects of individual versus group stabling on social behaviour in domestic stallions Type Journal Article
Year 2002 Publication Applied Animal Behaviour Science Abbreviated Journal Appl. Anim. Behav. Sci.
Volume 75 Issue 3 Pages 233-248
Keywords Horse; Individual stabling; Group stabling; Social behaviour
Abstract Domestic horses (Equus caballus) are typically kept in individual housing systems, in which they are deprived of physical contact. In order to study the effects of social restrictions on behaviour in young horses, nineteen 2-year-old stallions were housed either singly (n=7), or in groups of three (n=12) for 9 months. Subsequently, the stallions were released into two separate 2 ha enclosures according to treatment, and recordings were made on social interactions and nearest neighbours during a 6-week-period, 28 h per week. Previously group stabled stallions frequently had a former group mate as their nearest neighbour (P=0.001), whereas previously singly stabled stallions did not associate more with their former box neighbours, to whom physical contact was limited by bars during the previous treatment. The nearest neighbour was more frequently recorded to be within one horselength of singly stabled than of group stabled stallions (P=0.005). More aggressive behaviour was recorded in the group of previously singly stabled stallions, i.e. bite threats (P=0.032), whereas group stabled stallions tended to make more use of subtle agonistic interactions (displacements, submissive behaviour). Singly stabled stallions also responded to the 9 months of social deprivation by significantly increasing the level of social grooming (P<0.001) and play behaviour (P<0.001), when subsequently interacting freely with other horses. The increased occurrence may relate to a build-up of motivation (a rebound effect), as well as to external factors, such as playful pasture companions and the increased space allowance of the pasture. It is concluded that 2-year-old domestic stallions are sensitive to social deprivation and that stabling has long-term effects, lasting 6 weeks at least, on the social behaviour in stallions.
Address
Corporate Author Thesis
Publisher Place of Publication Editor
Language Summary Language Original Title
Series Editor Series Title Abbreviated Series Title
Series Volume Series Issue Edition
ISSN ISBN Medium
Area Expedition Conference
Notes Approved no
Call Number Equine Behaviour @ team @ Serial 2257
Permanent link to this record
 

 
Author (up) Christensen, J.W.; Malmkvist, J.; Nielsen, B.L.; Keeling, L.J.
Title Effects of a calm companion on fear reactions in naive test horses Type Journal Article
Year 2008 Publication Equine Veterinary Journal Abbreviated Journal Equine Vet J
Volume 40 Issue 1 Pages 46-50
Keywords
Abstract REASON FOR PERFORMING STUDY: In fear-eliciting situations, horses tend to show flight reactions that can be dangerous for both horse and man. Finding appropriate methods for reducing fearfulness in horses has important practical implications. OBJECTIVES: To investigate whether the presence of a calm companion horse influences fear reactions in naive subject horses. HYPOTHESES: The presence of a habituated (calm) companion horse in a fear-eliciting situation can reduce fear reactions in naive subject horses, compared to subject horses with a nonhabituated companion (control). METHODS: Minimally handled (n = 36), 2-year-old stallions were used, 18 as subjects and 18 as companions. Companion horses (n = 9) were habituated to an otherwise frightening, standardised test stimulus (calm companions), whereas the rest (n = 9) of the companion horses remained nonhabituated (control companions). During the test, unique pairs of companion and subject horses were exposed to the test stimulus while heart rate and behavioural responses were registered. Subsequently, subject horses were exposed to the stimulus on their own (post test). RESULTS: Subject horses, paired with a calm companion horse, showed less fear-related behaviour and lower heart rate responses compared to subject horses with control companions. Results from the post test suggest that the difference between treatment groups remained in the subsequent absence of companion horses. CONCLUSIONS AND POTENTIAL RELEVANCE: It appears possible to reduce fear reactions in young, naive horses by allowing them to interact with a calm companion horse in fear-eliciting situations.
Address Department of Animal Health, Welfare and Nutrition, Faculty of Agricultural Sciences, University of Aarhus, PO Box 50, DK-8830 Tjele, Denmark
Corporate Author Thesis
Publisher Place of Publication Editor
Language English Summary Language Original Title
Series Editor Series Title Abbreviated Series Title
Series Volume Series Issue Edition
ISSN 0425-1644 ISBN Medium
Area Expedition Conference
Notes PMID:18083659 Approved no
Call Number Equine Behaviour @ team @ Serial 4355
Permanent link to this record
 

 
Author (up) Christensen, J.W.; Rundgren, M.
Title Predator odour per se does not frighten domestic horses Type Journal Article
Year 2008 Publication Applied Animal Behaviour Science Abbreviated Journal Appl. Anim. Behav. Sci.
Volume 112 Issue 1-2 Pages 136-145
Keywords Horse; Predator odour; Behaviour; Heart rate; Fear
Abstract Horses frequently react nervously when passing animal production farms and other places with distinctive smells, leading riders to believe that horses are innately frightened by certain odours. In three experiments, we investigated how horses respond to (1) urine from wolves and lions, (2) blood from slaughtered conspecifics and fur-derived wolf odour, and (3) a sudden auditory stimulus in either presence or absence of fur-derived wolf odour. The experiments were carried out under standardised conditions using a total of 45 naive, 2-year-old horses. In the first two experiments we found that horses showed significant changes in behaviour (Experiments 1 and 2: increased sniffing; Experiment 2 only: increased vigilance, decreased eating, and more behavioural shifts), but no increase in heart rate compared to controls when exposed to predator odours and conspecific blood in a known test environment. However, the third experiment showed that exposure to a combination of wolf odour and a sudden stimulus (sound of a moving plastic bag) caused significantly increased heart rate responses and a tendency to a longer latency to resume feeding, compared to control horses exposed to the sudden stimulus without the wolf odour. The results indicate that predator odour per se does not frighten horses but it may cause an increased level of vigilance. The presence of predator odour may, however, cause an increased heart rate response if horses are presented to an additional fear-eliciting stimulus. This strategy may be adaptive in the wild where equids share habitats with their predators, and have to trade-off time and energy spent on anti-predation responses against time allocated to essential non-defensive activities.
Address
Corporate Author Thesis
Publisher Place of Publication Editor
Language Summary Language Original Title
Series Editor Series Title Abbreviated Series Title
Series Volume Series Issue Edition
ISSN ISBN Medium
Area Expedition Conference
Notes Approved no
Call Number Admin @ knut @ Serial 4339
Permanent link to this record
 

 
Author (up) Christensen, J.W.; Rundgren, M.; Olsson, K.
Title Training methods for horses: habituation to a frightening stimulus Type Journal Article
Year 2006 Publication Equine veterinary journal Abbreviated Journal Equine Vet J
Volume 38 Issue 5 Pages 439-443
Keywords Animals; Behavior, Animal/*physiology; *Conditioning (Psychology); *Fear; Heart Rate/*physiology; Horses/physiology/*psychology; Learning; Male; Random Allocation; *Reinforcement (Psychology); Safety; Time Factors
Abstract REASONS FOR PERFORMING STUDY: Responses of horses in frightening situations are important for both equine and human safety. Considerable scientific interest has been shown in development of reactivity tests, but little effort has been dedicated to the development of appropriate training methods for reducing fearfulness. OBJECTIVES: To investigate which of 3 different training methods (habituation, desensitisation and counter-conditioning) was most effective in teaching horses to react calmly in a potentially frightening situation. HYPOTHESES: 1) Horses are able to generalise about the test stimulus such that, once familiar with the test stimulus in one situation, it appears less frightening and elicits a reduced response even when the stimulus intensity is increased or the stimulus is presented differently; and 2) alternative methods such as desensitisation and counter-conditioning would be more efficient than a classic habituation approach. METHODS: Twenty-seven naive 2-year-old Danish Warmblood stallions were trained according to 3 different methods, based on classical learning theory: 1) horses (n = 9) were exposed to the full stimulus (a moving, white nylon bag, 1.2 x 0.75 m) in 5 daily training sessions until they met a predefined habituation criterion (habituation); 2) horses (n = 9) were introduced gradually to the stimulus and habituated to each step before the full stimulus was applied (desensitisation); 3) horses (n = 9) were trained to associate the stimulus with a positive reward before being exposed to the full stimulus (counter-conditioning). Each horse received 5 training sessions of 3 min per day. Heart rate and behavioural responses were recorded. RESULTS: Horses trained with the desensitisation method showed fewer flight responses in total and needed fewer training sessions to learn to react calmly to test stimuli. Variations in heart rate persisted even when behavioural responses had ceased. In addition, all horses on the desensitisation method eventually habituated to the test stimulus whereas some horses on the other methods did not. CONCLUSIONS AND POTENTIAL RELEVANCE: Desensitisation appeared to be the most effective training method for horses in frightening situations. Further research is needed in order to investigate the role of positive reinforcement, such as offering food, in the training of horses.
Address Danish Institute of Agricultural Sciences, Department of Animal Health, Welfare and Nutrition, Tjele, Denmark
Corporate Author Thesis
Publisher Place of Publication Editor
Language English Summary Language Original Title
Series Editor Series Title Abbreviated Series Title
Series Volume Series Issue Edition
ISSN 0425-1644 ISBN Medium
Area Expedition Conference
Notes PMID:16986605 Approved no
Call Number Serial 1783
Permanent link to this record