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Behav Processes. 2014 Sep;107:61-7. doi: 10.1016/j.beproc.2014.07.018. Epub 2014 Aug 7.

Is the left forelimb preference indicative of a stressful situation in horses?

Author information

1
Department of Veterinary Medicine, University of Bari, Valenzano, Bari, Italy. Electronic address: marcello.siniscalchi@uniba.it.
2
Department of Veterinary Medicine, University of Bari, Valenzano, Bari, Italy.

Abstract

Evidence for behavioural and brain lateralisation is now widespread among the animal kingdom; lateralisation of limb use (pawedness) occurs in several mammals including both feral and domestic horses. We investigated limb preferences in 14 Quarter Horse during different motor tasks (walking, stepping on and off a step, truck loading and unloading). Population lateralisation was observed in two tasks: horses preferentially used their left forelimb during truck loading and stepping off a step. The results also revealed that horses showed higher scores for anxious behaviours during truck loading suggesting that the use of the left forelimb in this task may reflect the main role of the right hemisphere in control of behaviour during stressful situation.

KEYWORDS:

Animal welfare; Ethology; Horse; Limb preference; Physiology

PMID:
25108052
DOI:
10.1016/j.beproc.2014.07.018
[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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