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Managing horses in groups to improve horse welfare and human safety

reactions to mixing and separation

Hartmann, Elke (2010). Managing horses in groups to improve horse welfare and human safety. Diss. (sammanfattning/summary) Uppsala : Sveriges lantbruksuniv., Acta Universitatis Agriculturae Sueciae, 1652-6880 ; 2010:87
ISBN 978-91-576-7532-3
[Doctoral thesis]

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The aim of this thesis was to investigate whether specific anecdotal concerns related to keeping horses in groups are supported by science and, if so, provide scientifically based recommendations that could be implemented in practice. The aim of studies I and II was to identify methods for mixing unfamiliar horses that could minimise aggressive interactions and associated risk of injury. Results of study I revealed that pre-exposure of young horses in neighbouring boxes tended to lower contact-aggression (e.g. kicks, strikes) and biting behaviour in particular was reduced when the same pair of horses subsequently met in a paddock. This was not found when older horses were mixed (study II). Aggressive behaviour received by a new horse was not significantly different in meetings when it met one other horse compared to meeting two unfamiliar horses at the same time. Removing a horse from a group of four in study III was generally unproblematic. Most horses approached the handler when she was catching the horse and while standing with it in the middle of the paddock. Thus, potential risk may be higher in situations when the handler remains relatively stationary, as other horses of the group have time to approach. Rank did not influence the number of horses following to the paddock gate and interactions between horses were rare. Since horses naïve to social separation may be more difficult to handle away from the group, the objective in study IV was to investigate whether the initial presence of a companion horse would modify responses to separation. Results revealed no significant differences in heart rates and the number of training sessions required when the horses were subsequently trained in the absence of the partner compared to horses trained alone from the start. In summary, results give little support for the original areas of concerns about mixing and separating horses. Risk of injury to both horses and humans should not be overestimated when handling horses in groups, but being aware of potential risk situations and being able to react accordingly is likely to increase horse welfare and human safety.

Authors/Creators:Hartmann, Elke
Title:Managing horses in groups to improve horse welfare and human safety
Subtitle:reactions to mixing and separation
Series Name/Journal:Acta Universitatis Agriculturae Sueciae
Year of publishing :2010
Number of Pages:75
ALLI. Hartmann, E., Winther Christensen, J., Keeling, L.J. (2009). Social interactions of unfamiliar horses during paired encounters: Effect of pre-exposure on aggression level and so risk of injury. Applied Animal Behaviour Science 121, 214-221. II. Hartmann, E., Rundgren, M., Keeling, L.J. (in press). Comparison of 3 methods for mixing unfamiliar horses (Equus caballus). Journal of Equine Veterinary Behavior: Clinical Applications and Research. III. Hartmann, E., Søndergaard, E., Keeling, L.J. Identifying potential risk situations for humans when removing horses from groups. Manuscript. IV. Hartmann, E., Christensen, J.W., Keeling, L.J. (in press). Training young horses to social separation: Effect of a companion horse on training efficiency. Equine Veterinary Journal.
Place of Publication:Uppsala
Publisher:Dept of Animal Environment and Health, Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences
Associated Programs and Other Stakeholders:SLU - Research Areas for the Future > Future Animal Health and Welfare (until Jan 2017)
ISBN for printed version:978-91-576-7532-3
Publication Type:Doctoral thesis
Full Text Status:Public
Agrovoc terms:horses, behaviour, bites, injurious factors, animal learning, animal welfare, sweden
Keywords:equine, behaviour, welfare, housing, mixing, aggression, injury, separation, habituation, learning
Permanent URL:
ID Code:2396
Faculty:VH - Faculty of Veterinary Medicine and Animal Science
Department:(VH) > Dept. of Animal Environment and Health
Deposited By: Elke Hartmann
Deposited On:08 Nov 2010 00:00
Metadata Last Modified:02 Dec 2014 10:18

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