Swiss National Stud, CH-1580 Avenches

Applied Research on the Behaviour of horses

The behaviour of a horse, a typical flight and herd animal, can significantly influence its use, regardless of the discipline in which it is engaged. To an average rider or driver a horse’s temperament plays a decisive role, more important even than its conformation, size or price of purchase. Despite the indisputably high significance of equine behaviour, and that public interest in welfare and appropriate management of equines is increasing, there are comparatively few scientific studies relating to this topic. Due to this lack of verifiable data, horse owners’ decisions and actions are mostly based on personal experience and empirical observation. For many years the Swiss National Stud has instigated trans-disciplinary research focused on commonly encountered behavioural issues. This has resulted in many internationally recognised findings in the field of behaviour- tests and selection, as well as in the field of ethological observation and behaviour control. With its research program and its position as a competence center for equine husbandry and welfare, as well as for horse breeding in a rural environment, the National Stud contributes to the continuing development of competitive and sustainable agriculture. This article is a short review of all projects involving ethological aspects and their consequences and impact in the horse sector.

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