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Physiol Behav. 2011 Sep 1;104(3):464-8. doi: 10.1016/j.physbeh.2011.05.009. Epub 2011 May 13.

Asymmetry of behavioral responses to a human approach in young naive vs. trained horses.

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Laboratoire d'éthologie animale et humaine-UMR 6552 CNRS/ Université de Rennes 1, Station Biologique, 35380 Paimpont, France.


The aim of this study was to investigate the impact of training experience on young horses (Equus caballus)' lateralized responses to an approaching human. The results show that the one year old untrained horses display asymmetrical responses to an approaching human, with more negative reactions (escapes, threats) when approached from the left side, while approaches towards the right shoulder elicited more positive behaviors. On the contrary, two years old trained horses reacted equally positively to approaches and contact on both sides. Our findings support those of previous studies investigating a link between emotionality and laterality and confirm the role of the left hemisphere in the processing of novel or negative stimuli. Moreover, the data underline the impact work and training can have on this laterality in horses.

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