09 November 2012

"Do Horses Expect Humans to Solve Their Problems"

In "Do Horses Expect Humans to Solve Their Problems" (Lesimple et al. 2012), the researchers "hypothesized that because domestic animals are so attentive and dependant [sic] to humans’ actions for
resources, the counter effect may be a decline of self sufficiency, such as individual task solving."

The experiments challenged horses to open a box containing their food ration and "more than half of the horses that showed exploration behaviors toward the experimenter failed to open the chest (N D 18, 60%), while only a third of those that did not (N D 5, 31.2%) failed (Fisher’s exact test, p D 0.04)."

Were I continuing their experiment, I'd test upper level horses, including a set described by their owners as intelligent and inquisitive. I suspect the choice of riding school horses used for students "from beginners to moderate level" played a part in so many horses failing to open the box. Typically,  riding schools chose docile, patient horses for beginner/intermediate rather than horses with great curiosity or keen intelligence.

I could certainly be wrong about horses in general, but, whether filled with food nor not, few boxes go unopened around here. My horses like me, but they love a good puzzle, and they adore toys.

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