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LM-401 TEMPERAMENT AND BEHAVIOUR OF HORSE
SUBMITTED TO; SUBMITTED BY; Dr. KASHIF ISHAQ M.FARRUKH HAFEEZ 06-ARID-239 DVM 7th
PMAS ARID AGRICULTURE UNIVERSITY RAWALPINDI
Content Introduction Temperament Temperament Types Horse Behaviour Behaviour Signs Feeding Behaviour Learning Behaviour Social behaviour Communication Sleeping Behaviour Developmental Behaviour Reproductive Behaviour Abnormal Horse Behavior Summery Referance
Ethology is the study of the function and evolution of an animal's behaviour in its natural environment. The horse (Equus ferus caballus) is a hoofed (ungulate) mammal, a subspecies of one of seven extant species of the family Equidae. The horse has evolved over the past 45 to 55 million years from a small multi-toed creature into the large, single-toed animal of today. Humans began to domesticate horses around 4000 BCE, and their domestication is believed to have been widespread by 3000 BCE; by 2000 BCE the use of domesticated horses had spread throughout the Eurasian continent. Although most horses today are domesticated, there are still endangered populations of the Przewalski's Horse, the only remaining true wild horse, as well as more common feral horses which live in the wild but are descended from domesticated ancestors. Horse behavior is best understood from the perspective that horses are prey animals with a well-developed fight-or-flight instinct. Their first response to a threat is to flee, although they are known to stand their ground and defend themselves or their offspring in cases where flight is untenable, such as when a foal would be threatened.
The individual basic stance towards continuing changes and challenges in its enviorment. According to J. Warren Evans there are six basic temperament types. He defines them as quiet, interested, nervous, extremely nervous, stubborn and treacherous. Following factor effect the temperament of horse,Genetic,Enviorment,Training,Rider
Quiet. This horse is commonly referred to as bomb-proof by owners and a packer by riding instructors for his unreactive nature. He will tolerate almost anything, from a fluttering flag to an uncoordinated rider with inexperienced hands. This type can generally be trusted to behave safely and to build the confidence of beginner riders, while a more advanced rider might consider him too dull. Interested horses are great for riders with a little training and experience. In well-trained hands, these horses pay attention to the rider's aids but aren't upset by them. While they are aware of their environment and respond to things going on around them, it's unusual for them to react with fight-or-flight behavior. As long as this horse is handled with consideration and sensitivity, riders will seldom go wrong with this sort. Many of the horses you see collecting ribbons at local horse shows fit into this category, as they are both animated and dependable.
Nervous is the personality type truest to equine nature, and consequently many horses fit into this category. The flight response in nervous horses is well-developed. They spook easily, perhaps even bolting to escape from perceived dangers all around. They tend to carry their heads high, looking for trouble and ready to react. For a quiet and experienced rider, this horse can eventually make a very nicemount. Extremely nervous horses are so reactive that virtually anything can set them off, and even changes in footing or shadows on the ground could cause fearful explosions at any time. Calm, consistent handling while slowly expanding their comfort zones will ultimately benefit them, but the road will be long and often dangerous. These horses are best left to professionals or to individuals with loads of experience and a solid foundation in equine behavior principles. Stubborn horses tend to resent work and try to find a way out of it. When pushed, they often become irritable and balky, sometimes even exploding in temper. Trainers often encounter behavior that sets back training, requiring repetitions of lessons already learned. These horses also require riders with a lot of patience, but while the nervous horse requires a quiet hand, stubborn horses need a tactful yet firm approach. Treacherous horses, with the notable exception of a few naturally aggressive stallions, are nearly always either a product of bad handling or benign neglect. They either haven't learned to respect humans or have learned to actively resent them. Such horses may unexpectedly attack humans by kicking, biting or stomping on them. Horses who simply lack an understanding of their place below humans on the dominance hierarchy may sometimes be reformed by the most experienced of handlers. Sadly, euthanasia is sometimes the only safe solution for savage horses. Fortunately, such horses are rare.
Being able to recognise your horses behaviour is very important not only for their health and general well being but also for your own safety. Horses use a combination of body language signs and also their voice to whinny and use noise through their nostrils to communicate and display their feelings. Understanding this behaviour will help you to recognise if your horse is happy, angry, dozy, asleep, in pain, or frightened.
This is an alert and attentive sign, often showing happiness.
Ears To The Side This can show that the horse is relaxed. If the horse is being ridden and their ears are to the side then it shows that the horse is concentrating and relaxed. If the horse is stood still with its neck
mid to low in height and with eyes half closed, resting a hind foot with the ears to the side then it shows that the horse is just tired, relaxed and resting. One Ear Back This is a sign that the horse is listening. Ears Mobile Horse is alert and can hear something of interest, the ears will move around often accompanied by a high neck carriage, bright eyes. Ears Flat Back This is a sign of anger and is often accompanied with swishing tail and kicking out by either one or both hind legs.
Eyes Open And Bright Is a sign of an alert horse who is taking in their surroundings. Eyes Half Shut Is a sign that the horse is tired or dozing. Extra signs of this would be ears to the side with head mid to low and resting a hind leg and with a droopy bottom lip. Eyes Shut Is a sign hat your horse is asleep. One Eye Shut This usually indicates that the horse has a medical issue with the closed eye, so look to see if the eye is weeping or has any discharge and seek veterinary advice.
If the horse has bitten either you or another horse and it has been accompanied with the horse having its ears flat back, a back leg kicking out at you and/or a swishing tail, then it is a sign of aggression. Horses also bite each other and you if they are grooming each other for pleasure and social interaction, if this is the case then the horse will have their ears either forward or to the side with a relaxed tail and happy expression.
Upper Lip Curl When horses curl up their upper lip it is known as the 'flehmen technique', and horses do this when they are aware of a scent in the air; for example a stallion will do this when he is aware of a mares hormone scent when she is in season.
Droopy The horses chin and lower lip will often go droopy when they are very sleepy, content or relaxed. Other signs include resting a hind leg, ears to the side and head carriage mid to low in height.
Horses will make a snorting noise with their nostrils when they are unsure or frightened of something.
Head And Neck Carriage
Head High is often a healthy sign of an alert and curious horse and is often accompanied with alert ears, bright eyes and an alert focused expression. Head Low can either be a sign of submission, depression or simply tiredness. Neck turning to the side and looking at their flanks can be a sign of discomfort, this can be either due to a fly on the horses side or a more serious upset such as colic in which case other symptoms will also be visible.
Back Raised Raised and tight is a sign of discomfort, for example due to a saddle or sore in that area. Tail Tail raised high in the air is usually accompanied with a high neck carriage, a bright happy and alert expression. Horses are often seen with high tails when playing in the field. Tail clamped flat down is a sign of discomfort for example if a fly is under the dock of the horse. Tail swishing is an aggressive warning sign and can also used as a sign of discomfort. Other accompanying symptoms to look out for are ears flat back and kicking out with one or both back legs. Back Legs One leg kicking out is an aggressive warning sign. Both legs kicking out shows aggression.
Pawing the ground can be a sign of impatience, hunger and can also be a symptom of colic which will have other symptoms visible. o Stamping the ground is a sign of impatience and can also be due to discomfort caused by for example a cut or flies on the leg. Resting one foreleg is a sign of discomfort in that limb.
Horses devote more time to eating than to any other behavioral activity. Behavior has direct effects on consumption patterns and the selection of feeds. Probably no other single factor is as important to the well-being and productivity of the horse as the feed and forage it consumes.
The time a horse spends consuming feed is controlled by a number of factors. Grazing time depends primarily on: · type and availability of forage
· consumption behavior · level of nutrient demand. Patterns of eating are developed in response to daylight/darkness cycles and other environmental cycles. These patterns are apparently influenced by learned behavior as the horse grows and develops. The heaviest grazing occurs in the hours surrounding dawn and the late afternoon near sunset. Night grazing sometimes occurs and is observed more in the summer months. Temperature can also alter grazing times. During the hot summer afternoons, horses will stop their grazing. On extremely hot days, horses will stop their grazing earlier in the morning. Cold weather alone apparently has little effect on daily grazing patterns; however, heavy rain, strong wind, and/or snow cover may significantly alter grazing patterns. The amount of time a horse spends grazing is between five and 10 hours per day. In general, horses will spend less time grazing good-quality pasture, but this is not always true.
Horses have very mobile lips and a large mouth. They typically eat the part of the pasture plant they have selected by biting it off between their upper and lower incisors. These anatomical/behavioral combinations result in the ability of horses to be selective about what they consume. The horse will often select the most tasty part of the hay and leave the stems and undesirable portions. If adequate pasture is available, horses will be very selective. Horses are known as "spot grazers." They will eat portions of the pasture down to the bare ground, while an area right next to the bare spot may be lush and green. When forage availability decreases, so does selectivity.
This is behaviour that the horse has learnt through either watching another horse, training or from its own experiences. Horses are quick learners and if there is a positive reward to a certain act they will often repeat it. For example if a horse bangs its front feet against the stable door and then gets fed then it will associate banging the door with the reward action of getting food. Other examples can include barging through electric fences, opening stable doors, entering the feed room.
To live successfully as part of a herd, individuals in any herding species have developed a behavioural repertoire designed to reduce tension between individuals and increase cohesion between group members. This bias towards affiliative behaviour rather than aggressive behaviour is crucial if individuals are not going to spend valuable time and energy guarding resources and fighting. To this end, horses are very communicative animals with highly developed social skills and are motivated to cooperate rather than dominate. With its natural environment being open spaces, the horse did not need to develop a complex repertoire of vocal signals, but rather one of visual signals. Many of these may be either very subtle or quite overt for distant signalling or greater effect. Horses are motivated to avoid aggression and, therefore,
rather than attack without warning, their signals escalate gradually, from flattening the ears through to lungeing. When living in a herd, peace is often maintained by spatial behaviour; that is, each animal permits particular individuals to remain at a certain distance from them without threats.The distance is greater for nonherd members than for herd members, and reduces as the intimacy of the relationship increases. Thus, invasion of the personal space of a horse, which is about 6-10 feet is tolerated for the closest of relationships, e.g. between mare and foal and during mating. The social structure of a natural horse herd is relatively stable; compare this to that of many livery yards, where new horses come and go, and horses may have little choice as to their neighbour or field companion.While horses thrive in a mixed age herd, in the wild there would be horses from the same cohort available for playing with. However, in the reduced group sizes usually found in domestic situations, geriatric horses may not appreciate being the sole focus of attention for a younger horse. In short, the horse needs to live amongst other horses in an established group and we should strive to achieve this goal.
Horses have a variety of methods of vocal and non-vocal communication. Vocal noises include a squeal or scream which usually denotes a threat by a stallion or mare. Nickers are low-pitched and quiet. A stallion will nicker when courting a mare; a mare and foal nicker to each other; and domestic horses nicker for food. Neighs or whinnies are the most familiar: high pitched, drawn out sounds that can carry over distances. Horses whinny to let others know where they are and to try to locate a herd mate. They also respond to each other s whinnies even when out of sight. Blowing is a strong, rapid expulsion of air resulting in a high pitched whooshing sound, which usually is a sign of alarm used to warn others. Snorting is a more passive, shorter lower pitched version of blowing and is usually just a result of objects entering the nasal passage. In contrast to signals of aggression within a herd, there are also signs of friendship. Mares and foals nudge and nuzzle each other during nursing or for comfort, and mutual grooming, when two horses nibble at each other, is often seen.
Horses can sleep lying down or standing up, thanks to a unique locking mechanism within the Patella. Domestic horses will often sleep very soundly lying down in a stable and horses within a group out at grass will often take it in turn to lye down to sleep as there will be a horse on look out who is watching out for predator.
Foals are naturally born in the spring which increases their chance of survival (this may have negative implications for foals born significantly earlier. There are different strategies adopted by various species to ensure the survival of their young from predators in the first few weeks after birth; some species are 'hiders', ensuring they leave their young well hidden while they go back to the herd to graze or out to hunt, going back at intervals to nurse; others are 'followers', that is, their young remain with the mothers at all times. The horse is a 'follower' species. This
has a number of implications; first and foremost, the bond between dam and foal is very strong, because the foal is not hiding and remains very close to the dam and there is a higher number of suckling bouts in comparison to 'hider' species. The foal interacts with other foals through short bouts of play within a matter of days, but remains closely bonded to the dam long after weaning at about 9 months. Therefore, the foal is emotionally dependent upon the mare even if it no longer requires her as a source of food.
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Puberty Estrus (Heat) Courtship and Mating Dominance Libido
An understanding of the basics of reproductive behavior is important. This understanding can lead to management applications that can improve reproductive success. It is important to recognize the behaviors associated with a mare in heat, a mare that is receptive to a stallion, mating, signs of foaling, normal behavior after foaling, and libido in a stallion.
Puberty is the attainment of sexual maturity. In fillies, this is usually at 12 to 15 months of age, but it can be as early as 9 to 10 months. Stallions are 15 months or older before they can successfully breed.Both stallions and, to a lesser degree, fillies may exhibit sexual display before their reproductive tracts are physiologically mature. Pregnancy cannot occur until the respective reproductive tract matures at the time of puberty. Conversely, some fillies may cycle but not exhibit signs of estrus.
Estrus is also the time when the mare is receptive and will accept the stallion. The average length of the estrous cycle, or the period from heat period to the next heat period, is 21 days, but the estrous cycle can vary from 19 to 26 days. The duration of estrus is five to seven days (actually about six days), but it can vary from two to 10 days. The first heat following foaling is referred to as foal heat. Foal heat typically occurs six to nine days after foaling, but it may be as early as five days or as late as 15 days. It is important to recognize the behavioral signs of estrus. Some signs are general, including restlessness, hyperactivity, less time devoted to eating and resting, and more time running the fences. Other signs more descriptive of estrus are frequent urination, straddling (squatting) posture, and clitoral winking." Mares exhibiting strong heat will actually lay against a fence or teasing partition when exposed to the teaser, a stallion used to make mares exhibit estrus. Most mares will not exhibit overt signs of estrus without the presence of a stallion.
Courtship and Mating
Horses are referred to as long-day breeders because they come into heat as the days increase in length in the spring. Mares are also seasonally polyestrous, meaning they have multiple estrous cycling throughout the spring and summer. The natural breeding season for horses is the spring or summer. Light is the controlling factor in causing mares to come into heat in early spring. Most studies have indicated a tendency toward anestrus (not cycling) in the winter months; however, some mares may cycle during this time as well. Mares will cycle several times during the breeding season if they do not conceive and become pregnant. The most intense estrus behavior occurs when the mare is most sexually receptive to the stallion. Intense estrus behavior lasts about three days. A mare in heat may actively seek out and attempt to stay in the vicinity of a stallion. During the peak of estrus, the mare may sniff, lick, or nuzzle the stallion. A mare in heat will also urinate frequently, particularly if a stallion is teasing her to test her receptiveness. She is also likely to raise her tail and assume a breeding stance. The classic behavioral display of the stallion when it checks a mare is to lift its nose into the air and curl his upper lip. This is called the Flehmen response. The stallion will often be impatient, alert, hyperactive, and restless. Vocalization is common. The stallion will frequently nudge the mare, apparently to signal readiness and to assess her firm stance response. In addition to nudges, some stallions may smell and bite over the mare s body.
Establishing Dominance Dominance patterns are very much a part of breeding behavior, particularly in wild horses. Dominance patterns are not as easily seen on most modern stud farms, where stallions are not allowed to run in groups with bands of mares. In a natural environment, one stallion will typically dominate the breeding of a band of mares, and competing stallions will be banished to form their own separate band. At some point, one of the banished stallions will become old enough, brave enough, or tough enough to defeat the dominant stallion. In modern breeding establishments with numerous, separately stalled breeding stallions, all the stallions are used for breeding. Dominance, nevertheless, is in evidence. Most breeding barn managers can tell you which stallion is dominant, or the boss.
Libido is the term used to denote sexual drive or the degree of sexual urge in animals. A stallion with a high libido will exhibit an eagerness to mount and attempt to breed a mare. In natural situations, stallions exhibit a wide range of libido levels, from zero activity to extreme aggressiveness. Some stallions will have such a strong libido that they will sacrifice all other pursuits in favor of searching for and breeding mares in heat. An extremely high or low libido may cause problems. Young stallions are more likely to exhibit a wide range of libido. Young stallions with extremely low libido are hard to breed and require patience from those handling them. Young horses with very high libido require extreme caution by the handler and those working the breeding shed.
Horse Behavior at Foaling Time
Behavioral traits associated with parturition (the birth process) are deeply rooted in the evolutionary development of horses. During the birth process, both the dam and her offspring are in a weakened state and are susceptible to attack by predators. The mare takes steps to increase their safety during parturition. In general, these steps include locating a safe site for foaling, quickening the process, minimizing evidence of the process, and achieving rapid recovery.
Pre-Parturient Mare Behavior
Mares will generally foal after an 11-month gestation, but this is highly variable. There is evidence that smaller breeds tend to have shorter gestation periods. Behavioral changes in late gestation are generally minimal, and may not be observed until shortly before birth.
Udder Development 2-6 weeks, milk evident 0-7 days.
Mares prefer privacy at foaling time.If possible, mares will delay birth until human observers are not around. Mares generally foal at night. One study, indicated that approximately 80 percent of foals were born between midnight and 6 a.m. Parturition is divided into three stages:
· · ·
labor; expulsion of the fetus; and passage of afterbirth.
In the first stage of foaling, mares become restless. They will not eat and they may pace or walk in circles, look back toward their flank, and switch their tails. Some mares lie down and stand up repeatedly. Some will not drink water. This restless period is usually shorter for older mares. This is the longest stage of foaling and can last anywhere from 30 minutes to six hours. When the mare breaks her water or starts expelling fluid, the first stage of parturition is completed. The second stage of parturition, expulsion of the fetus, or actual birth, is shorter in duration than the first stage. Shortly before the foal is born, the mare may sweat profusely, especially around the flanks. If she is disturbed, the mare may temporarily delay the birth process. The foal is usually born after 12 to 18 minutes of heavy labor. Maiden mares (mares foaling for the first time) are more likely to take about an hour to expel the fetus. After the foal is born, the mare will continue to lie on her side for another 15 to 20 minutes. This time is important for the mare to rest and for blood flow from the placental tissues to pass into the colt.Normally gentle mare is likely to become nervous and protective during the first hours after giving birth. The mare may, in her protectiveness, become aggressive toward people.
The last stage of foaling is the passing of the afterbirth. If there has been a normal birth, mares will stand some 15 to 20 minutes after giving birth and begin to nuzzle and lick the foal. This is a critical period as the bond is being established between the dam and foal. The licking and cleaning behavior, which usually starts at the head, stimulates the foal while it also dries it. The cleaning is probably also part of the initial bonding process and is typically accompanied by vocalizations and a thorough visual and olfactory examination of the foal by the mare. A newborn foal learns to recognize its dam by her voice. The process by which the newborn learns to recognize its dam is called imprinting. The cleaning/licking is also accompanied by nuzzling, which appears to assist the foal in learning to stand. The mare usually starts by licking the head, so by the time she has reached the rear, she is able to assist the standing process by the nuzzling.
The afterbirth is usually expelled within one to two hours after birth. Mares can identify their foals within hours of birth. Odor is the primary recognition factor. The most significant identification is usually made when the mare smells the rear area of the foal.
Abnormal Horse Behavior
Animal behavior experts often refer to vices (bad habits) as stereotypies because they are often rooted in the behavioral nature of the animal. Understanding that vices are behaviorally based may assist in preventing and/or treating these problems. Common vices are described below. Wood chewing, Cribbing, Stall kicking, Weaving or circling
The horse, a prey animal, depends on flight as its primary means of survival. The body language of a horse is unique to the equine species. As a highly social animal, the horse communicates its emotions and intentions to its herd mates through both vocalization and body language. Patterns of eating are developed in response to daylight/darkness cycles and other environmental cycles. They will eat portions of the pasture down to the bare ground, while an area right next to the bare spot may be lush and green. When forage availability decreases, so does selectivity. This is behaviour that the horse has learnt through either watching another horse, training or from its own experiences.A person handling horses needs to be able to read the horse s body language to be an effective trainer. One of the keys to safely working with your horse is understanding natural
horse behavior. If you can predict when a horse is about to be aggressive or spook at something, you are better able to respond and either avoid a dangerous situation, or prevent that behavior.
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