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Horse odor exploration behavior is influenced by pregnancy and age

Rørvang, Maria Vilain and Nicova, Klára and Yngvesson, Jenny (2022). Horse odor exploration behavior is influenced by pregnancy and age. Frontiers in Behavioral Neuroscience. 16 , 941517
[Research article]

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In spite of a highly developed olfactory apparatus of horses, implying a high adaptive value, research on equine olfaction is sparse. Our limited knowledge on equine olfaction poses a risk that horse behavior does not match human expectations, as horses might react fearful when exposed to certain odors, which humans do not consider as frightening. The benefit of acquiring more knowledge of equine olfaction is therefore twofold; (1) it can aid the understanding of horse behavior and hence reduce the risk of dangerous situations, and (2) there may be unexplored potential of using odors in several practical situations where humans interact with horses. This study investigated behavior and olfactory sensitivity of 35 Icelandic horses who were presented with four odors: peppermint, orange, lavender and cedar wood in a Habituation/Dishabituation paradigm. The response variables were sniffing duration per presentation and behavioral reaction (licking, biting, snorting, and backing), and data were analyzed for potential effects of age, sex and pregnancy. Results showed that habituation occurred between successive odor presentations (1st vs. 2nd and 2nd vs. 3rd presentations: P P P P = 0.0068). Pregnant mares sniffed odors less than non-pregnant mares (P = 0.030), young horses (age 0-5 years) sniffed cedar wood for longer than old horses (P = 0.030), whereas sex had no effect (P > 0.050). The results show that horses’ odor exploration behavior and interest in odors varies with age and pregnancy and that horses naïve to the taste of a substrate, may be able to link smell with taste, which has not been described before. These results can aid our understanding of horses’ behavioral reactions to odors, and in the future, it may be possible to relate these to the physiology and health of horses.

Authors/Creators:Rørvang, Maria Vilain and Nicova, Klára and Yngvesson, Jenny
Title:Horse odor exploration behavior is influenced by pregnancy and age
Series Name/Journal:Frontiers in Behavioral Neuroscience
Year of publishing :2022
Article number:941517
Number of Pages:15
Publication Type:Research article
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 > 402 Animal and Dairy Science > Animal and Dairy Science.
Keywords:olfaction, trigeminal nerve, horse-human relationship, smell, sensory ability, scent, enrichment, nose-work
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Type of IDID
Alternative URL:https://www.frontiersin.org/articles/10.3389/fnbeh.2022.941517/full
ID Code:28542
Faculty:LTV - Fakulteten för landskapsarkitektur, trädgårds- och växtproduktionsvetenskap
Department:(LTJ, LTV) > Department of Biosystems and Technology (from 130101)
Deposited By: SLUpub Connector
Deposited On:25 Aug 2022 05:26
Metadata Last Modified:25 Aug 2022 05:31

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