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Author (up) Henry, S.; Hemery, D.; Richard, M.-A.; Hausberger, M. url  doi
  Title Human-mare relationships and behaviour of foals toward humans Type Journal Article
  Year 2005 Publication Applied Animal Behaviour Science Abbreviated Journal Appl. Anim. Behav. Sci.  
  Volume 93 Issue 3-4 Pages 341-362  
  Keywords Horse; Human-animal relationship; Maternal influence; Early experience; Social facilitation  
  Abstract We studied experimentally whether horse dams influenced foals' relationships with humans. We investigated the influence of the establishment of positive human-mare relationships on foals' behaviour toward humans. Forty-one foals and their dams were involved in this experiment. Half of the mares were softly brushed and fed by hand during a short period (total of 1.25 h) during the first 5 days of their foals' lives (experimental group, n = 21). The other mares were not handled experimentally and their foals received no contact with the experimenter (control group, n = 20). The reactions of both experimental and control foals were recorded under various conditions, first, for 5 min in the presence of a motionless experimenter, when foals were 15 and 30-35 days old, then in an approach test when they were 15 days old and in a saddle-pad tolerance test when they were 30-35 days old. Finally, approach-stroking tests were performed successively by the familiar experimenter when foals were 11-13 months old and by an unfamiliar person when they were 13-15 months old. Several observations strongly suggest that mares can influence their foals' behaviour toward humans: (1) during the handling procedure, experimental foals of protective mares were further from the handler than foals of calm mares (p < 0.001); (2) experimental foals remained, at all ages, closer to the experimenter (p < 0.05) and initiated more physical contacts (sniffing, licking, etc.) with the experimenter (p < 0.05) than control foals; (3) avoidance and flight responses of experimental foals were considerably reduced during approaches by the experimenter (p < 0.01) and they accepted saddle-pads on their backs more easily (p < 0.01) and more quickly (p < 0.01) than control foals. Lastly, the consequences of handling mares had effects that lasted at least until foals were one year old (p < 0.05) and became generalized from experimenter to unfamiliar humans, who could approach and stroke experimental foals rapidly during a test (p < 0.05). This is the first report of an attempt to use observation of mother by foals to facilitate human-foal relationships. The procedure is simple, takes little time and can easily be applied to any dam-foal pair, as it is not intrusive and presents no risks of disrupting mare-foal bonds.  
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  Call Number refbase @ user @ Serial 331  
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