Preprint Article Version 1 This version is not peer-reviewed

Human Demonstration Does not Facilitate the Performance of Horses (Equus caballus) in a Spatial Problem-Solving Task

Version 1 : Received: 8 May 2018 / Approved: 9 May 2018 / Online: 9 May 2018 (05:08:10 CEST)

A peer-reviewed article of this Preprint also exists.

Burla, J.-B.; Siegwart, J.; Nawroth, C. Human Demonstration Does Not Facilitate the Performance of Horses (Equus caballus) in a Spatial Problem-Solving Task. Animals 2018, 8, 96. Burla, J.-B.; Siegwart, J.; Nawroth, C. Human Demonstration Does Not Facilitate the Performance of Horses (Equus caballus) in a Spatial Problem-Solving Task. Animals 2018, 8, 96.

Journal reference: Animals 2018, 8, 96
DOI: 10.3390/ani8060096

Abstract

Horses’ ability to adapt to new environments and to acquire new information plays an important role in handling and training. Social learning in particular would be very adaptive for horses as it enables them to flexibly adapt to new environments. In the context of horse handling, social learning from humans has been rarely investigated but could help to facilitate management practices. We assessed the impact of human demonstration on spatial problem-solving abilities in horses using a detour task. In this task, a bucket with a food reward was placed behind a double-detour barrier and horses (n = 16) received a human demonstration or no demonstration. Horses were allocated to two test groups of 8 horses each, which experienced the two treatments in a counterbalanced order. We found that horses did not solve the detour task faster with human demonstration. However, both test groups improved rapidly over trials. Our results suggest that horses prefer to use individual rather than social information when being confronted with a spatial problem-solving task.

Subject Areas

detour task; equids; social cognition; social learning; spatial cognition

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