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Olsson, Karin, 2010. A review of methods used to measure temperamental characteristics in horses. First cycle, G2E. Skara: SLU, Dept. of Animal Environment and Health

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Abstract

Horses respond individually to challenges, and the possibility to use these reactions to evaluate equine temperament with an objective instrument would have several advantages. Horse welfare could be improved by making it possible to find individuals best suited for a specific use, and understanding of the development of abnormal behaviours, such as stereotypies, could be increased. Management routines and training could be adjusted to
suit each individual horse and it could facilitate the selection of individuals appropriate for breeding. There are also economic implications, as horse buyers consider temperament important and after evaluating temperament, money can be spent solely on specific horses with all the right qualities. During the last decade, many attempts have been made to measure different aspects of temperament in horses, and the first aim of this project was to look at these studies and see which methods were used and which temperamental characteristics they measured. The non-consistent use of terminology, mostly without clear definitions, makes it difficult to compare studies, but behavioural tests, observer ratings, physiological measures or a combination of these are most commonly used. Focus has
been directed to emotionality or emotional reactivity, reactions to humans and learning abilities or trainability. To evaluate these characteristics, tests such as open field or arena tests, handling tests and learning tasks have been developed. The second aim was to find which temperamental characteristics riders training jumping or dressage searched for, and/or avoided, in horses, and if there was a difference between the disciplines. The results from a web-based questionnaire revealed that riders preferred temperamental characteristics such as "willing to work" and "listens to the rider" and avoided "easily stressed and frightened" and "unwilling to work". No statistically significant differences in preferences for certain characteristics were found between the disciplines. The last aim was to find if those characteristics considered important by riders could be measured using tests already described in the literature, and it is suggested that tests developed for emotionality or emotional reactivity could be used when evaluating those characteristics related to
reactions to the environment. Those related to cooperation with humans are more difficult to measure objectively, as the human will always influence the results of the tests. It might be possible to evaluate the relation and interaction between horse and rider using a questionnaire, but a terminology with clear definitions and descriptions should be developed first.

Main title:A review of methods used to measure temperamental characteristics in horses
Authors:Olsson, Karin
Supervisor:Blokhuis, Harry and Axel-Nilsson, Malin
Examiner:Seehuus, Birgitte
Series:Studentarbete (Sveriges lantbruksuniversitet, Institutionen för husdjurens miljö och hälsa)
Volume/Sequential designation:338
Year of Publication:2010
Level and depth descriptor:First cycle, G2E
Student's programme affiliation:VK002 Ethology and Animal Welfare - Bachelor's Programme 180 HEC
Department:(VH) > Dept. of Animal Environment and Health
Keywords:häst, temperament, test, egenskaper, beteende
URN:NBN:urn:nbn:se:slu:epsilon-3-124
Permanent URL:
http://urn.kb.se/resolve?urn=urn:nbn:se:slu:epsilon-3-124
Subjects:Animal ecology
Language:English
Deposited On:07 Jul 2010 10:30
Metadata Last Modified:20 Apr 2012 14:14

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