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Poster communications

Out of sight, out of mind. Human visual attention and positioning affect horses’ behaviour during an interaction

Abstract : Horses’ reactions towards humans are a combined result of their temperament, their previous experience but also of the skills of the human they are interacting with. However, very little is known yet about the relevant elements that have to be considered when humans interact with horses. Here we investigated whether positions and/or humans’ visual attention had an impact on horses’ reactions and level of obedience in a simple leading task. Professionals (n=8) and non-professionals (n=10) were asked to lead a horse (n=15) along a given path. The humans’ position and visual attention towards horses, and the horses’ latencies to obey (to start walking and to stop) and ears positions were recorded. Here we show that 1) horses obeyed more quickly and held ears upright longer when a human gazed at them and was close to the anterior part of their body(spearman correlation, P<0.05); 2) the positions of humans either far ahead of a horse (associated with less time gazing) or behind its shoulder (i.e. near the middle of its body) are associated respectively with low latencies to start walking and to stop (spearman correlation, P<0.05); and 3) professionals spent less time gazing at horses, more time far ahead of them, and appeared to induce higher obedience latencies in horses than did non-professionals (Mann Whitney, P<0.05). These results suggest that horses are able to perceive humans’ visual attention and confirm that some relative human-horse positions could be more appropriate than others during interactions with horses. Moreover, this study supports experimentally the idea that professionals may have a lower attention level when interacting with horses as a result of task repetition and habit. The results reinforce the idea that knowledge of horse behaviour and of observation methods must be given to improve observational skills and attention, which are key elements to prevent accidents.
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Poster communications
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Submitted on : Monday, September 12, 2016 - 4:09:28 PM
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Carole Fureix, Anne-Sophie Vallet, Séverine Henry, Martine Hausberger. Out of sight, out of mind. Human visual attention and positioning affect horses’ behaviour during an interaction. 61st annual meeting of the European Association for Animal Production, Aug 2010, Heraklion, Greece. 16, Book of Abstracts. ⟨10.3920/978-90-8686-708-0⟩. ⟨hal-01364508⟩



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