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The importance of ethology in understanding the behaviour of the horse

The importance of ethology in understanding the behaviour of the horse
The importance of ethology in understanding the behaviour of the horse
Domestication has provided the horse with food, shelter, veterinary care and protection, allowing individuals an increased chance of survival. However, the restriction of movement, limited breeding opportunities and a requirement to expend energy, for the benefit of another species, conflict with the evolutionary processes which shaped the behaviour of its predecessors. The behaviour of the horse is defined by its niche as a social prey species but many of the traits which ensured the survival of its ancestors are difficult to accommodate in the domestic environment. There has been a long association between horses and man and many features of equine behaviour suggest a predisposition to interspecific cooperation. However, the importance of dominance in human understanding of social systems has tended to overemphasize its importance in the human-horse relationship. The evolving horse-human relationship from predation to companionship, has resulted in serial conflicts of interest for equine and human participants. Only by understanding the nature and origin of these conflicts can ethologists encourage equine management practices which minimise deleterious effects on the behaviour of the horse.
horse, behaviour, domestication, interspecific communication
0425-1644
15 -19
Goodwin, Deborah
6a44fe30-189a-493d-8dcc-3eb8199a12ab
Goodwin, Deborah
6a44fe30-189a-493d-8dcc-3eb8199a12ab

Goodwin, Deborah (1999) The importance of ethology in understanding the behaviour of the horse. Equine Veterinary Journal, 28, 15 -19.

Record type: Article

Abstract

Domestication has provided the horse with food, shelter, veterinary care and protection, allowing individuals an increased chance of survival. However, the restriction of movement, limited breeding opportunities and a requirement to expend energy, for the benefit of another species, conflict with the evolutionary processes which shaped the behaviour of its predecessors. The behaviour of the horse is defined by its niche as a social prey species but many of the traits which ensured the survival of its ancestors are difficult to accommodate in the domestic environment. There has been a long association between horses and man and many features of equine behaviour suggest a predisposition to interspecific cooperation. However, the importance of dominance in human understanding of social systems has tended to overemphasize its importance in the human-horse relationship. The evolving horse-human relationship from predation to companionship, has resulted in serial conflicts of interest for equine and human participants. Only by understanding the nature and origin of these conflicts can ethologists encourage equine management practices which minimise deleterious effects on the behaviour of the horse.

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Published date: 1999
Keywords: horse, behaviour, domestication, interspecific communication

Identifiers

Local EPrints ID: 18258
URI: https://eprints.soton.ac.uk/id/eprint/18258
ISSN: 0425-1644
PURE UUID: a22108bc-2cf5-4323-8403-1c65d3b3774c

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Date deposited: 08 Mar 2006
Last modified: 17 Jul 2017 16:36

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Contributors

Author: Deborah Goodwin

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