Equine News: The Stresses of Learning

  We all know that when we are stressed it affects our productivity and our learning, but does it affect our horses the same way? Here's a new study that was published by PLOS One on April 23, 2013 that a think will be interesting for many of you. Please Read on to find out what they discovered.

  For this study, it required 49 mare Welsh ponies who were around seven years old. These 49 mares were divided into three categories; 15 of them were stressed before learning a task, 15 were stressed after learning that same task and 19 of them were not stressed at all.

  The way they stressed the horses of the first two groups was by exposing them to 20 different unforeseen events such as noises and movements.

  Their task was to touch their noses on a traffic cone which was then rewarded with a treat.

    Before they started testing these horses, they also documented each of their temperaments to see if that would have any affect on their learning. They determined their temperaments with five categories; their sensitivity to physical touch, how they interact with humans, their level of fearfulness, how they socialise with other horses and how much they like to move around.

  The study consisted of teaching each horse the task and then waiting for about a week before repeating the same task. At the end of the study, they discovered that the 19 ponies who were not stressed improved their performance where as the 15 ponies who were stressed after learning the task decreased their performance. The other 15 ponies who were stressed before the task decreased their performance as well, but not as much as those who were stressed after. 

So that just goes to show you another reason why a stressed out horse is not a good thing. If you would like to read more about this study, you can click here to read the article on Horsetalk.co.nz or you can also read the complete study on PLOS One's website by clicking here. You can find the link to the complete study on the Pure Horse Sense Google+ page as well.

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