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Conference Poster Year : 2005

Human - mare relationships and behaviour of foals toward humans


We investigated the influence of the establishment of positive human-mare relationships on foals’ behaviour towards humans. 21 mares were softly brushed and fed by hand during a short period during the first 5 days of their foals’ lives (experimental group), whereas 20 other mares were not handled experimentally and their foals received no contact with the experimenter (control group). The reactions of both experimental and control foals were recorded under various conditions (presence of a motionless experimenter, approach test, saddle-pad tolerance test) when they were 15 and 30-35 days old. Approach-stroking tests were also performed, in pasture, by the familiar experimenter and an unfamiliar person when they were one year old. Several observations strongly suggest that mares can influence their foals’ behaviour toward humans. 1) During the handling procedure, experimental foals of protective mares were further from the handler than foals of calm mares. 2) Experimental foals remained, at all ages, closer to the experimenter and initiated more physical contacts with the experimenter than control foals. 3) Avoidance and flight responses of experimental foals were considerably reduced during approaches by the experimenter and they accepted saddle-pads on their back more easily and more quickly than control foals. Finally, the consequences of handling mares had effects that lasted at least until foals were one year old and were generalized from experimenter to unfamiliar humans.
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hal-01360042 , version 1 (05-09-2016)



Séverine Henry, D. Hemery, Martine Hausberger, Marie-Annick Richard-Yris. Human - mare relationships and behaviour of foals toward humans. 56th Annual Meeting of the European Association for Animal Production, Jun 2005, Uppsala, Sweden. Wageningen Academic Publishers, 11, Book of Abstracts. ⟨10.3920/978-90-8686-544-4⟩. ⟨hal-01360042⟩
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