Qualitative assessment of the young foals’ human related behaviour

Eva Andrea DIUGAN, Silvana POPESCU, Marina SPINU

Abstract


This study’s aim was to assess comparatively the human related behaviour of young, unweaned foals at different ages, in order to discover if significant differences can be found.

In a horse breeding farm a total number of 28 young, unweaned foals were tested in the presence of a human person, using qualitative behaviour assessment (QBA) with fixed terms (FT). The first assessment was made during the first week of life of each foal, than it was repeated at the ages of six weeks and 20 weeks. Four terms were used to describe the behaviour of the foal toward the assessor (friendly, indifferent, timid or scared). The prevalence of each response was calculated for each behaviour and comparisons were made.

After comparing the results, statistically significant differences were found in the human related behaviour of the young foals at different ages. During their first week of life more foals were friendly towards humans than at the age of six weeks, but less than at the age of 20 weeks. Indifference was practically not found in any of the foals. The majority of the scared foals tended to keep this behaviour as they grew older.

The human related behaviour of the young, unweaned foals can improve (i.e. become more friendly) during their development. More research is needed to reveal the possible factors that can lead to a better relationship between foals, young and adult horses and humans.

Keywords


qualitative behaviour assessment; reactivity to humans; unweaned foals

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DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.15835/buasvmcn-vm:10719




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