Approach and follow behaviour – possible indicators of the human–horse relationship
Abstract:The aim of our study was to analyze the behavioural responses of horses (N = 51) to familiar humans and to find factors that may affect these responses in three tests: (1) approach to, (2) standing beside, and (3) following the familiar person. We investigated the impacts of horse-related factors (gender and age) and human-related factors (type of work, housing management, amount of handling, number of handlers and training to follow).
Horses with one handler needed less time to approach the human than horses with more handlers. Standing beside the human correlated positively with following. Following was mainly affected by training.
According to our results, the number of handlers has an important effect on horses' responses to familiar humans, especially regarding approach and follow behaviour. However, following behaviour is fundamentally determined by training.