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Selinus, Hanna, 2015. Physiological (heart rate and cortisol concentration in saliva) and behavioural responses in horses to four reactivity tests compared to the trainer's opinion about the horses’ temperament. Second cycle, A2E. Uppsala: SLU, Dept. of Anatomy, Physiology and Biochemistry

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Abstract

When performing studies that test the reactions of horses in different situations, important information
may be available about the horse’s reactivity level. With information from these tests, accidents and
dangerous situations may be prevented. When the behaviours from tests are compared with race performance it may be possible to evaluate if some behaviours are more desirable at the race track than others. The aim of this study was to see if behavioural responses correlated with physiological
parameters (heart rate, cortisol), the trainer’s opinions and actual race performance. Furthermore, it was investigated whether there were any significant differences in physiological and behavioural responses of horses between the first and the second day of testing.
The reactions of 16, two-year old Swedish Standardbred trotters were tested in four different behaviour tests. The tests included: 1) novel objects (blue rubber ball and bridge), 2) novel smell, 3) sudden sound and 4) isolation from other horses. The horses experienced all four tests during one day before and once after a 3-day confinement in boxes using the same experimental procedures.
Behavioural reactions to the different stimuli and to social isolation were recorded (e.g. move feet, touch object or defecate) and heart rate was measured throughout testing. Three samples of saliva were taken each day (control sample before the tests, after the reactivity test and after isolation) to measure the concentration of cortisol. Furthermore, the horses’ trainer filled in a form where he graded different temperamental traits of the horses.
The results indicated that the behaviours were not affected by the 3-day stall confinement or repetition of tests since there were no significant differences between days. The heart rate was lower day two compared with day one, which may be due to that the horses were habituated to the tests on day two.
The cortisol level was higher on day two, indicating that the horses were more stressed compared to day one. Some behaviours from the tests had a strong correlation with the trainer’s opinion of the horses’ temperament. This included the behaviour ‘alert’ recorded during the tests that had a strong correlation with the trainer’s opinion of the horse being ‘afraid’ and ‘spooky’. The latter behaviours also correlated with higher winning percentage or place percentage, indicating that these behaviours could be more favorable on the race track than during daily handling and training.

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Att studera beteenden på hästar i olika situationer och jämföra med relevant litteratur kan ge viktig information hur individer reagerar i olika situationer. Med kunskap från beteendetester kan olyckor och farliga situationer förebyggas genom att i vissa fall kunna förutse reaktioner. När beteenden i tester jämförs med prestationer på tävlingsbanan kan det också vara möjligt att se om vissa beteenden är mer önskvärda när det kommer till att prestera bra.
Denna studie syftade till att se hur 16 stycken tvååriga travare reagerade på okända föremål (blå gummiboll och bro), okänd lukt, plötsligt ljud och när de blev isolerade från andra hästar. Testet genomfördes på samma sätt under två dagar med tre dagars boxvila mellan. Fyra olika beteendetester genomfördes och pulsen mättes hela tiden. Kortisolprover togs från saliven vid tre tillfällen (ett
kontrolltest innan beteendetesterna, ett prov efter reaktivitetstestet samt ett efter isolering). Hästarnas
tränare fick fylla i ett formulär där han graderade olika egenskaper hos hästarna.
Resultaten visade att det inte fanns några signifikanta skillnader i beteendefrekvenser mellan dagarna, vilket tyder på att hästarnas beteende inte påverkas av tre dagars boxvila eller av att testen upprepades.
Hästarnas puls var lägre dag två, vilket kan bero på att de dag två var mer vana vid miljön och testerna. Kortisolnivån var högre dag två, vilket indikerar på att hästarna kan ha varit mer stressade dag två jämfört med dag ett. Vissa av beteendena hade en stark korrelation med tränarens uppfattning om hästarna temperament. Ett fåtal av dessa temperamentsegenskaper korrelerade också med en högre
vinstprocent eller platsprocent. Detta tyder på att vissa beteenden skulle kunna vara mer önskvärda på tävlingsbanan.

Main title:Physiological (heart rate and cortisol concentration in saliva) and behavioural responses in horses to four reactivity tests compared to the trainer's opinion about the horses’ temperament
Authors:Selinus, Hanna
Supervisor:Hartmann, Elke and Ringmark, Sara and Dahlborn, Kristina
Examiner:Jansson, Anna
Series:UNSPECIFIED
Volume/Sequential designation:UNSPECIFIED
Year of Publication:2015
Level and depth descriptor:Second cycle, A2E
Student's programme affiliation:VY001 Agricultural Science Programme - Animal Science 270 HEC
Department:(VH) > Dept. of Anatomy, Physiology and Biochemistry
Keywords:behaviour, reactivity, cortisol, heart rate, temperament, beteende, reaktivitet, kortisol, hjärtfrekvens
URN:NBN:urn:nbn:se:slu:epsilon-s-4275
Permanent URL:
http://urn.kb.se/resolve?urn=urn:nbn:se:slu:epsilon-s-4275
Subjects:Animal physiology and biochemistry
Language:English
Deposited On:20 Apr 2015 12:34
Metadata Last Modified:20 Apr 2015 12:34

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