Sunday, 28 April 2013

Equine Behaviour term of the week: Stereotypies

My students thought I made a typo on my power point – odd word, stereotypy. These are things we know as cribbing, weaving stall walking, etc. Defined as an action that’s practised out of its original context/ environment until it becomes repetitive, mechanical and compulsive.

• Triggered by stress or pain, initially.

• Brings relief, pleasure, releases dopamine (pleasure brain chemical)

• Once habit formed (compulsive), will occur when horse is not under stress

• Purposeless: It doesn’t get the horse anywhere except a temporary “feel good.”

Looks crazy perhaps, to see a horse wavering back and forth, or grabbing any edge and sucking in air. But what do we humans do to normalize life, but it doesn’t really get us anywhere? Buy more stuff, have another drink, rebound into another relationship…is it wise to take stock from time to time to check if anything in life is becoming repetitive, mechanical, purposeless?

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