Sackman, J. E., & Houpt, K. A. (2018). Equine Personality: Association with Breed, Use and Husbandry Factors. Journal of Equine Veterinary Science, .
Temperament can be defined as innate properties of the nervous system whereas personality includes the complex behavioral traits acquired through life. Association between personality and behavior is important for breeding, selection, and training of horses. For the first time, we evaluated if equine personality components previously identified in Japan and Europe were consistent when applied to American horses. We examined the association of personality with breed, age, sex, management, training, stereotypies and misbehaviors.
Materials and Methods
The owner directed personality survey consisted of 25 questions. An online version of the survey was created. The principal component analysis (PCA) method was used to associate behavioral traits with personality components. Factor analysis with orthogonal transformation was performed on scores for personality related questions.
847 survey responses were used. Quarter horses, “other” breed and Thoroughbred were the most common breeds. Three principal personality components were extracted as each behavioral trait belonged to one of these three components. Arabians, Thoroughbreds, Saddlebreds and Walking horses were the most nervous and Quarter horses, Paints, Appaloosas and Drafts were the least nervous. No trained discipline was significantly associated with any personality component. There were no significant associations between stereotypies and misbehaviors and nervous or curious personality.
For the first time in predominantly American horses, we have evaluated personality components and their association with breed, age, sex, training discipline and stereotypies. We refute links between personality and trained discipline and confirm the lack of association between nervous personality and stereotypies and misbehaviors.