Sandrine Beuret

Learning capabilities are they different in stereotypic horses ?

Horses can develop stereotypic behaviors in response to trauma such as separation from the mother ... The horse will then manage its frustration producing a particular behavior that we call « tic ». There are several categories : the "bear" tic, when the horse balance itself, shifting its weight from side to side ; the "crib biting", where the horse rests on something with its incisive and swallows some air, which produces a unique sound for those species. Many health problems may result from these behaviors, as gastric ulcers.

The goal of this study is to find out whether the stereotypical horses have different learning abilities then other horses. Our hypothesis is that learning is more difficult for them, because they are proactive. They focus on something that reassures them (example: food), without really understanding or learning the required exercise. With each horse, in its usual environment, tests are carried out to analyze its temperament on one hand and, on the other hand, its learning capabilities. Those last tests are asking the horse to understand simple exercises by itself, humans are never acting on its choices.


Sandrine Beuret_Equus caballus.jpg 
Equus caballus


This study is conducted in partnership with the National Stud in Avenches, Switzerland (HNS), and many horse owners in Switzerland on horses with this type of behavior. The sample consists of forty horses, of which half are stereotyped; it is composed of females and castrated (geldings) and non castrated males (stallions).

Sandrine Beuret