Home About Browse Search

Sensory Abilities of Horses and Their Importance for Equitation Science

Rørvang, Maria Vilain and Nielsen, Birte L. and McLean, Andrew Neil (2020). Sensory Abilities of Horses and Their Importance for Equitation Science. Frontiers in Veterinary Science. 7 , 633
[Article Review/Survey]

[img] PDF


Vision, hearing, olfaction, taste, and touch comprise the sensory modalities of most vertebrates. With these senses, the animal receives information about its environment. How this information is organized, interpreted, and experienced is known as perception. The study of the sensory abilities of animals and their implications for behavior is central not only to ethology but also to animal welfare. Sensory ability, perception, and behavior are closely linked. Horses and humans share the five most common sensory modalities, however, their ranges and capacities differ, so that horses are unlikely to perceive their surroundings in a similar manner to humans. Understanding equine perceptual abilities and their differences is important when horses and human interact, as these abilities are pivotal for the response of the horse to any changes in its surroundings. This review aims to provide an overview of the current knowledge on the sensory abilities of horses. The information is discussed within an evolutionary context and also includes a practical perspective, outlining potential ways to mitigate risks of injuries and enhance positive horse-human interactions. The equine sensory apparatus includes panoramic visual capacities with acuities similar to those of red-green color-blind humans as well as aural abilities that, in some respects exceed human hearing and a highly developed sense of smell, all of which influence how horses react in various situations. Equine sensitivity to touch has been studied surprisingly sparingly despite tactile stimulation being the major interface of horse training. We discuss the potential use of sensory enrichment/positive sensory stimulation to improve the welfare of horses in various situations e.g. using odors, touch or sound to enrich the environment or to appease horses. In addition, equine perception is affected by factors such as breed, individuality, age, and in some cases even color, emphasizing that different horses may need different types of management. Understanding the sensory abilities of horses is central to the emerging discipline of equitation science, which comprises the gamut of horse-human interactions. Therefore, sensory abilities continue to warrant scientific focus, with more research to enable us to understand different horses and their various needs.

Authors/Creators:Rørvang, Maria Vilain and Nielsen, Birte L. and McLean, Andrew Neil
Title:Sensory Abilities of Horses and Their Importance for Equitation Science
Series Name/Journal:Frontiers in Veterinary Science
Year of publishing :2020
Article number:633
Number of Pages:17
Publication Type:Article Review/Survey
Article category:Scientific peer reviewed
Version:Published version
Copyright:Creative Commons: Attribution 4.0
Full Text Status:Public
Subjects:(A) Swedish standard research categories 2011 > 4 Agricultural Sciences > 403 Veterinary Science > Medical Bioscience
Keywords:equitation science, olfaction, auditory, tactile stimuli, visual stimuli, human-animal relationship, welfare
Permanent URL:
Additional ID:
Type of IDID
Web of Science (WoS)000575049600001
ID Code:18005
Faculty:LTV - Fakulteten för landskapsarkitektur, trädgårds- och växtproduktionsvetenskap
Department:(LTJ, LTV) > Department of Biosystems and Technology (from 130101)
Deposited By: SLUpub Connector
Deposited On:28 Oct 2020 16:03
Metadata Last Modified:15 Jan 2021 19:46

Repository Staff Only: item control page


Downloads per year (since September 2012)

View more statistics