Saturday, August 28, 2010

Seeking Solutions to Separation Anxiety - Full Article

by: Christa Lesté-Lasserre
August 26 2010, Article # 16868

When teaching young horses to accept separation from their pasturemates, it might seem like a good idea to train them in pairs first for a while before training them alone. However, new equitation science research suggests that pairing them up might just delay the anxiety of separation and, in the end, the results of this method don't differ much from those of immediate individual separation.

Elke Hartmann, PhD, researcher in the department of animal environment and health at the Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences in Uppsala, presented her team's research on the topic at the sixth International Equitation Science Conference in Uppsala on Aug. 2. She and her colleagues divided yearling and 2-year-old Warmblood mares into two groups for a monthlong test period of social separation methods. The test comprised three successive steps, with each step representing greater distance away from the herd. Before moving on to a new step, the horses had to succeed in the previous one (by showing calm feeding patterns).

Researchers separated the horses in one group from their pasture herd for daily individual training sessions. In the other group, investigators separated the animals in pairs first, but when these paired horses were feeding calmly at the final testing area, they repeated the training steps with each horse individually...

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