Wednesday, 24 April 2013

Do horses watch and learn?

While nearly three-quarters of owners, when asked, believe that horses can learn negative behaviors from each other (such as cribbing), Evelyn Hanggi, MS PhD, president of the Equine Research Foundation, said as yet there is no research supporting this theory. "In reality, the appearance of stereotypies (vices such as cribbing) in horses living near each other is more likely caused by genetic relatedness or to the stress of existing in the same, inappropriate environment," she said.

While researchers continue to study this, it’s safe to say at this point, you need not fret about your horse’s cribbing neighbor at the boarding stable, or hope that your reining horse will learn to stop by watching your trainer’s horse slide.

Interestingly, stereotypies are unknown in non domestic horses: another reason to naturalize our horse’s lives as much as it’s possible to fit in with our chosen discipline and situation, don’t you think?

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