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First Posted: Mar 5, 2010
Jan 16, 2012

Could work be a source of behavioral disorders? A study in horses

"Could work be a source of behavioral disorders? A study in horses.
Hausberger M, Gautier E, Biquand V, Lunel C, Jégo P.

Université de Rennes 1, UMR 6552 Ethologie Animale et Humaine, Unité Mixte de Recherche CNRS, Campus de Beaulieu, Rennes, France. martine.hausberger@univ-rennes1.fr

Stress at work, as shown by a number of human studies, may lead to a variety of negative and durable effects, such as impaired psychological functioning (anxiety, depression...). Horses share with humans this characteristic of working on a daily basis and are submitted then to work stressors related to physical constraints and/or more 'psychological' conflicts, such as potential controversial orders from the riders or the requirement to suppress emotions. On another hand, horses may perform abnormal repetitive behaviour ('stereotypies') in response to adverse life conditions. In the present study, we investigated whether the type of work the horses are used for may have an impact on their tendency to show stereotypic behaviour (and its type) outside work. ... To our knowledge, this is the first evidence of potential effects of work stressors on the emergence of abnormal behaviours in an animal species. It raises an important line of thought on the chronic impact of the work situation on the daily life of individuals."

PMID: 19862328 [PubMed - in process]

For More Information:

Horse Stereotypies Vary by Discipline, Researchers Say
"Some horses crib, some weave, some chew wood. Some have many in-stall habits, while others have practically none. But these equine stereotypies are not as random as they might seem. According to recent findings from an equine behavior research group in northwestern France, they point to the kind of work those horses are doing outside their stalls...."


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