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Ahrendt, L. P., Labouriau, R., Malmkvist, J., Nicol, C. J., & Christensen, J. W. (2015). Development of a standard test to assess negative reinforcement learning in horses. Appl. Anim. Behav. Sci., 169, 38–42.
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.
Keywords: Algometry; Horse behaviour; Learning performance; Operant conditioning; Pressure-release; Horse training
Baumgartner, M., Boisson, T., Erhard, M. H., & Zeitler-Feicht, M. H. (2020). Common Feeding Practices Pose A Risk to the Welfare of Horses When Kept on Non-Edible Bedding. Animals, 10, 441.
Abstract: During the evolution of the horse, an extended period of feed intake, spread over the entire 24-h period, determined the horsesâ�� behaviour and physiology. Horses will not interrupt their feed intake for more than 4 h, if they have a choice. The aim of the present study was to investigate in what way restrictive feeding practices (non ad libitum) affect the horsesâ�� natural feed intake behaviour. We observed the feed intake behaviour of 104 horses on edible (n = 30) and non-edible bedding (n = 74) on ten different farms. We assessed the duration of the forced nocturnal feed intake interruption of horses housed on shavings when no additional roughage was available. Furthermore, we comparatively examined the feed intake behaviour of horses housed on edible versus non-edible bedding. The daily restrictive feeding of roughage (2 times a day: n = 8; 3 times a day: n = 2), as it is common in individual housing systems, resulted in a nocturnal feed intake interruption of more than 4 hours for the majority (74.32%, 55/74) of the horses on shavings (8:50 Â± 1:25 h, median: 8:45 h, minimum: 6:45 h, maximum: 13:23 h). In comparison to horses on straw, horses on shavings paused their feed intake less frequently and at a later latency. Furthermore, they spent less time on consuming the evening meal than horses on straw. Our results of the comparison of the feed-intake behaviour of horses on edible and non-edible bedding show that the horsesâ�� ethological feeding needs are not satisfied on non-edible bedding. If the horses accelerate their feed intake (also defined as â��rebound effectâ��), this might indicate that the horsesâ�� welfare is compromised. We conclude that in addition to the body condition score, the longest duration of feed intake interruption (usually in the night) is an important welfare indicator of horses that have limited access to roughage.
Keywords: horse behaviour; feed intake pause; bedding; welfare indicator; feeding practices; roughage; horse welfare; individual housing system
Benz, B., Köhnke, J., & Kappelmann, K. (2014). Bewertung einer Faltschieberanlage in einem Reitstall mit Paddockboxen[Assessment of a v-form scraper in a horse barn with paddock boxes]. Landtechnik, Agricultural Engineering,, 68(4), 242–247.
Abstract: In der vorliegenden Untersuchung werden in einem Praxisbetrieb die Verfahrenskosten eines
Faltschiebers erhoben. Aufgrund des reduzierten Arbeitszeitaufwandes ergibt sich durch den
Einsatz des Faltschiebers eine jährliche Kostenersparnis in Höhe von 78 € je Pferd. Durch die
Mechanisierung der Entmistung kann fast 30 % der Arbeitszeit in der Pensionspferdehaltung
eingespart werden. Beim Einsatz einer Entmistungstechnik spielt jedoch nicht nur die Ökonomie,
sondern darüber hinaus auch das Pferdeverhalten eine Rolle. Im selben Praxisbetrieb wird
nach Installation der Faltschieberanlage das Pferdeverhalten beim Erstkontakt mit dem Schieber
beobachtet. Dabei zeigt sich, dass die Pferde den direkten Kontakt mit der Entmistungstechnik
und somit kritische Situationen vermeiden.
[In the survey at hand, the procedural costs for a v-form scraper are gathered. In the process,
it is found that due to the reduced working time requirement the use of a v-form scraper
saves € 78/horse/year. The mechanization of manure removal can reduce working time in
horse keeping by almost 30 percent. However, using manure removal systems, the profitability
is not the only crucial criteria. The behaviour of the horses plays an essential role, too.
Moreover the horses’ behaviour when first encountering the manure scraper is observed. The
study reveals that the horses avoid contact with the scraper and thereby also shirk critical
Keywords: Entmistungstechnik, Arbeitswirtschaft, Pferdeverhalten [Manure removal systems, working time requirement, horse behaviour]
Brubaker, L., & Udell, M. A. R. (2016). Cognition and learning in horses (Equus caballus): What we know and why we should ask more. Behavioural Processes, 126, 121–131.
Abstract: Abstract Horses (Equus caballus) have a rich history in their relationship with humans. Across different cultures and eras they have been utilized for work, show, cultural rituals, consumption, therapy, and companionship and continue to serve in many of these roles today. As one of the most commonly trained domestic animals, understanding how horses learn and how their relationship with humans and other horses impacts their ability to learn has implications for horse welfare, training, husbandry and management. Given that unlike dogs and cats, domesticated horses have evolved from prey animals, the horse-human relationship poses interesting and unique scientific questions of theoretical value. There is still much to be learned about the cognition and behaviour of horses from a scientific perspective. This review explores current research within three related areas of horse cognition: human-horse interactions, social learning and independent learning in horses. Research on these topics is summarized and suggestions for future research are provided.
Keywords: Horse behaviour; Horse welfare; Learning; Social cognition
Heleski, C. R., McGreevy, P. D., Kaiser, L. J., Lavagnino, M., Tans, E., Bello, N., et al. (2009). Effects on behaviour and rein tension on horses ridden with or without martingales and rein inserts. The Veterinary Journal, 181(1), 56–62.
Abstract: Unsteady hand position can cause discomfort to the horse, potentially leading to conflict behaviours (CB) such as head tossing or tail lashing. Some instructors feel that martingales or elastic rein inserts can reduce discomfort caused by inexperienced and unsteady hands. Others consider these devices to be inappropriate [`]crutches'. Four horses and nine riders were tested under three conditions in random order: plain reins, adjustable training martingales (TM), and elasticised rein inserts (RI). Rein-tension data (7Â s) and behavioural data (30Â s) were collected in each direction. Rein-tension data were collected via strain-gauge transducers. Behavioural data were assessed using an ethogram of defined behaviours. No differences in the number of CB were observed. Mean rein tension for TM was higher than that of RI or controls. Relative to the withers, the head was lower for horses ridden with martingales. Carefully fitted martingales may have a place in riding schools that teach novices.
Keywords: Horse behaviour; Horse welfare; Equitation science; Rein tension; Martingales