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Berg, Ronja, 2024. Klia mera! : hästens positiva respons varierar mellan individer och område. First cycle, G2E. Uppsala: SLU, Applied Animal Science and Welfare

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Mutual grooming, or allogrooming, is a socio-positive behaviour seen in various species. Among horses, it is mainly used as a means of social bonding between individuals, and in a group of horses, the behaviour is an integrated part of their natural behaviour. Since its domestication, the horse has become a beloved companion animal, which has affected the human-horse relationship and the interactions between the species today. Human touch in its various forms has previously been found to have a positive effect on the horse. How humans interact with and listen to the horse’s behaviour and emotional signals has a direct effect on its wellbeing. Even though mutual grooming, or scratching, from a human is perceived to function as a positive interaction, similarly to allogrooming between horses, there is a lack of studies regarding its function as an interaction between a horse and its owner. The aim of this study was to explore the possibility of scratches from horse owners being perceived as a positive interaction for horses, whether there is a preference for where horses prefer to be scratched, as well as if there are individual preferences between horses, and if horse owners are aware of these preferences. Ten owners and their horses took part in the study, which consisted of a two-part interview and a scratch test. The owners scratched their horse on six different areas of the body, and the horses’ behaviour and emotional signals were then analysed. Of the areas examined in this study, horses generally exhibited the most positive behaviours when scratched at the withers and middle of the neck, which research also identifies as areas where horses engage in allogrooming with each other. The horses displayed the most approaching behaviours when scratched behind the ear, possibly due to the owner’s proximity to the head. There was significant variation in how each horse reacted when scratched in the different areas, indicating that there may be individual preferences within the species. Horse owners perceived themselves to have an awareness of their horse's scratching preferences as well as other factors involved in its daily management. Further studies regarding how the horse's perception corresponds to that of humans in various interactions may be of interest in increasing the understanding of horse-owner communication and the possibility to “know a horse”.

Main title:Klia mera!
Subtitle:hästens positiva respons varierar mellan individer och område
Authors:Berg, Ronja
Supervisor:Lundberg, Anna and Yngvesson, Jenny
Examiner:Andersson, Maria
Volume/Sequential designation:UNSPECIFIED
Year of Publication:2024
Level and depth descriptor:First cycle, G2E
Student's programme affiliation:VK007 Etologi och djurskydd (kandidat) 180,0 hp
Supervising department:(VH) > Applied Animal Science and Welfare
Keywords:hästens beteende, Equus caballus, människa-häst interaktion, kommunikation mellan arter, människa-djur relation, antrozoologi, ömsesidig putsning
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Deposited On:03 Jul 2024 10:59
Metadata Last Modified:05 Jul 2024 01:15

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