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Training induces lasting memories of humans in horses


The aim of this study was to investigate the effects of using positive reinforcement as a training strategy for young horses on the horse-human relationship. Thus, we trained 23 yearlings to remain immobile and accept various handling procedures (brushing, feet picking…) on vocal command, giving half of them a food reward (positive reinforcement group, NPR = 111) whenever they responded correctly to the command (i.e. remained immobil throughout the handling procedure), while the other half (control group, NC = 12) was never given any reward. Results showed that using positive reinforcement during training induces a long term positive representation of humans, for young horses trained to obey a vocal command with food as a reinforcement sought and accepted more contact, both with the familiar trainer (P < 0.001 and P < 0.01) and with a non familiar person (P < 0.01 and P < 0.01), even several months after completion of training (up to 8 months later). It alse allowed faster learning (P<0.001) and better memorization of the task (P<0.05).
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hal-01318888 , version 1 (20-05-2016)


  • HAL Id : hal-01318888 , version 1


Carol Sankey, Marie-Annick Richard-Yris, Helene Leroy, Séverine Henry, Martine Hausberger. Training induces lasting memories of humans in horses. 12th International IAHAIO Conference on Human-Animal Interactions, International Association of Human-Animal Interaction, Jul 2010, Stockholm, Sweden. ⟨hal-01318888⟩
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