Presentation on theme: "Understanding Your Horse. Why does he do that? Evolution of the horse Horse dates back around 65 million years Humans around 4 million years."— Presentation transcript:
Understanding Your Horse
Why does he do that? Evolution of the horse Horse dates back around 65 million years Humans around 4 million years.
The starting point! A dog sized animal 4-11kg 4 toes Eyes forward faced Unspecialised molars; probably a fruitivore Lived in forest and swamp habitat
Survival of the fittest This refers to the survival of individuals best adapted to their environment or best adapted to the environment that they live in. Selection pressure – the driving force behind evolution through natural selection. The decrease in forest and swamps due to climate change i.e. increase in global temperature – drying out; resulted in more grazing land
They had to move to the open plain where they would be in full view of predators, where fruit and fleshy leaves were rare. Horse was in view of predators all the time and therefore has evolved to deal with predators to survive Fast moving to survive
The horse still thinks this way
Behaviour and natural selection Differences in behaviour Spooky Dopey
The more alert horse – better mother longer life more offspring
Dopey - less chance of survival.
Behaviour is adaptive. Natural behaviour that you see, helps survival and reproduction The horse has evolved for an environment that he cannot hide ie the open plains, constantly looking for danger and very aware of other animals.
Equine Adaptions If the horse cannot flee it fights Fight or flight Social animal living in a group Relies on herdmates for survival – lookouts. They do not like being alone Communication is a requirement for living in a group and so is predictability.
The Domestication of the Horse Thought to have been domesticated about 4000BC through evidence of a bit on the lower jaw. One of the last animal to be domesticated
We breed the horse for what we want – Size Speed Behaviour
Has the Horses Behaviour Changed? We tend to breed for appearance and performance rather than behaviour and the ability to cope with the human made environment. The psychology of todays horse is similar to that of the first horse.
Behaviour problems and Abnormal Behaviour Definition of Behaviour Problem A behaviour pattern that gives the horse manager a problem
Behaviour problem is a very loose term depending on the people involved. Definition of Abnormality A behaviour that causes harm to the animal or other animals
Abnormality is only shown by a few animals; 10-20% in the population. Self mutilation or self harm Human perception – a behaviour that is not normal is bad.eg withdrawal, self- mutilation, stereotipy.
Damage to other individual Aggression is not an abnormality, protecting the foal. Sometimes what we think may be abnormal is, in fact, normal
Consequences of Abormality Surgery to prevent crib biting and wind sucking Recent research is identifying that crib biting stimulates saliva production to combat acid in the stomach. Stallion ring – causes pain to the animal, not used as much today as the stallion will not be interested in breeding.
Definition of Normal Decide what is normal and what is not. If you do not see a behaviour it does not mean it is not there. Eg. A horse in a loose box cannot graze. Put the horse in an environment where you can observe the behaviour.
Vices Used to describe many behaviour problems Vice – a bad habit This implies that horses have a bad habit therefore it is the horses fault Not an appropriate term
Sterotypies A repeated, relatively invariant sequence of actions that have no obvious benefit to the horse. Never been recorded in wild horses
Individuals may also develop their own unique stereotipies Can be over or under stimulated When you see the sterotippy developing, you have a problem, therefore you need to change the environment.
Treatment of stereotypies Crib collars and various operations – cause pain Stop the problem temporarily, starts again when collar taken off. Could it be that we are stopping them from coping with their environment? Stopping the stereotypy can cause another reaction that could cause more harm.
The only way to get rid of the stereotypy is to change the environment.
Self mutilation Stallions that are more isolated. In the worse cases – sedation is required
Aggression Different types of aggression Mobile aggression – the horse rushes to get you As a result of thwarting of motivation Frustration causes aggression dominance hierarchy
Horse hierarchy is complicated and always changing Current (human) thinking – to teach the horse who is boss A situation were they will challenge you because the hierarchy is changing – causes a lot of aggression. Dominance notion may be responsible for a lot of unnecessary human aggression towards horses.
Wood chewing Not uncommon in the wild – minerals? Can be dangerous – splinters Lack of roughage in the diet – boredom Horses do eat living wood in the wild as a food source for them New Forest ponies eat branches.
Eating bedding Straw is a food source Horse cannot categorise between food (hay) and bed (straw) If there is not enough forage (hay) they will eat their bed
Our behaviour affects their behaviour The only problem horses have is humans!