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Accueil veterinaires comportementalistes Publications internationales veterinaires comportementalistes The role of the image of a conspecific in the regulation of stereotypic head movements in the horse

The role of the image of a conspecific in the regulation of stereotypic head movements in the horse

D.S. Mills (a), and M. Riezebos (b)

Revue : Applied Animal Behaviour Science

(a) Animal Behaviour, Cognition and Welfare Group, University of Lincoln, Department of Biological Sciences, Riseholme Park, Lincoln LN2 2LG, UK

(b) Royal Veterinary College, Hawkshead Lane, North Mymms, Hatfield, Herts AL9 7TA, UK

Accepted 30 August 2004. Available online 28 October 2004.

Weaving is a common locomotor stereotypy in horses, which has been shown to be reduced by the presence of a mirror in the stable; however, it remains unclear whether this effect is due to the reflected image of a horse or some other property associated with the introduction of a mirror. To investigate this further, the response of six known weaving horses to each of three different types of poster was recorded. The poster images consisted of a life-size image of a horse's face (true image), a version of the same image cut into 54 squares, which were then randomly rearranged (pixilated image) and a blank (white image) display of the same size as the other posters. Four observation periods were included in each of the two days of observation per treatment condition: 08:00?08:30 h, 10:00?10:30 h, 12:00?12:30 h and 16:00?17:00 h. The first observation period was followed by the provision of concentrate feed and forage, the second observation period by exercise, the third by further forage and the fourth by concentrate feed and forage. The horses? activities and positions in the box were scanned at 1 min intervals and the number of observations registering each activity and position was calculated as a percentage of the total number of observations for each observation period.
Weaving was significantly less when the horses were provided with the image of a horse's face (mean percentage of observations ± S.E.M.; 5.56 ± 1.57), compared to both the pixilated (14.85 ± 3.06) and white (20.52 ± 4.12) images. Nodding was significantly less when provided with the true image of a horse (0.45 ± 0.15) compared to the pixilated image (2.15 ± 0.67). The pattern of weaving throughout the day differed from that of nodding, and together these results suggest that the two behaviours are not analogous. The presence of the image of the horse's face was associated with a significant increase in alertness (F112,2 = 11.31, p < 0.001) and recorded time spent looking at the poster(F112,2 = 3.46, p < 0.05). The timing of stereotypic head movements in the horse in this study suggests that they are not associated with boredom, or lack of stimulation but rather acute frustration.

Keywords: Behaviour; Horse; Nodding; Perception; Stereotypy; Vision; Weaving

publications scientifiques


Applied Animal Behaviour Science, Volume 91, Issue 1-2, Pages 155-165 - 2005


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