The use of human-given cues by domestic horses, Equus caballus, during an object choice task

Proops, Leanne, Walton, Meggen and McComb, Karen (2010) The use of human-given cues by domestic horses, Equus caballus, during an object choice task. Animal Behaviour, 79 (6). pp. 1205-1209. ISSN 0003-3472

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Abstract

Selection pressures during domestication are thought to lead to an enhanced ability to use human-given cues. Horses fulfil a wide variety of roles for humans and have been domesticated for at least 5000 years but their ability to read human cues has not been widely studied. We tested the ability of 28 horses to attend to human-given cues in an object choice task. We included five different cues: distal sustained pointing, momentary tapping, marker placement, body orientation and gaze (head) alternation. Horses were able to use the pointing and marker placement cues spontaneously but not the tapping, body orientation and gaze alternation cues. The overall pattern of responding suggests that horses may use cues that provide stimulus enhancement at the time of choice and do not have an understanding of the communicative nature of the cues given. As such, their proficiency at this task appears to be inferior to that of domestic dogs, Canis lupus familiaris, but similar to that of domestic goats, Caprus hircus.

Item Type: Article
Depositing User: Leanne Proops
Date Deposited: 21 Feb 2012 10:00
Last Modified: 12 Apr 2012 11:14
URI: http://sro.sussex.ac.uk/id/eprint/37445
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