Human-animal Relationship Assessment in Horses (Equus caballus) with Different Uses

Eva Andrea DIUGAN, Marina SPINU, Silvana POPESCU


Several researchers using different behavioural tests assessed the behavioral responses of adult horses toward humans. According to the results of the current scientific research, understanding and improving the quality of human-horse relationship can lead to many benefits for both humans and horses. The aim of the study was to assess comparatively the human-animal relationship in groups of horses with different uses, in order to reveal if significant differences can be found depending on the type of their activity.

A total number of 128 adult horses were assessed (mares, stallions and geldings) in several locations, used for working, equitation and reproduction. Three simple behavioural tests were employed (the voluntary approach test, the avoidance distance measuring and the ability to touch the horse including the measuring of its tolerance for human physical contact) to assess the human-horse relationship. The results were statistically processed and interpreted.

After comparing the results, statistically significant differences were found in the quality of the human-horse relationship in horses used for different activities. Comparing the results for several horse categories from the same facility (where it was possible) and used for the same type of purpose, the differences were not statistically significant.

As the results of the present study show, the human-horse relation can show significant differences depending on the use of the horses, most probably because the differences in the type of their previous experiences with humans. Improving the quality of the human-horse relationship can lead to a higher level of human safety when working with these animals


behavioural tests; horses; human-horse relationship

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