OpenFields

Horse personality: variation between breeds

Report of the use of a horse personality questionnaire to identify breed differences in behaviours and 'personality'.

Year of Publication2008

Anecdotal evidence from horse owners and handlers suggests the existence of breed typical behaviour and personality in horses. This is further supported by current research on heritability of personality characteristics in a range of species. The Horse Personality Questionnaire (HPQ) is a 25-item rating method that has previously been shown to be reliable for the assessment of personality in horses. Principal component analysis on HPQ data has identified six underlying personality components in horses. These are Dominance, Anxiousness, Excitability, Protection, Sociability and Inquisitiveness. Using the HPQ a survey of 1223 horses of eight different breeds was completed. Data were analysed to explore any differences in personality between breeds across the six personality components. Breed differences in personality were identified, and it was noted that variability between breeds varied between personality components. Anxiousness and Excitability showed the most variation between breeds, whilst Dominance and Protection showed the least variance. The results identified breed typical personalities that were comparable to results from previous studies as well as anecdotal evidence provided by the popular equine literature. The results are discussed in terms of the potential selection pressures that may have resulted in these differences.

Citation

Lloyd, A S; Martin, J E; Bornett-Gauci,H L I and Wilkinson, R J (2008) "Horse personality: variation between breeds"Applied Animal Behaviour Science 112 (3-4) pp 369–383

This item is categorised as follows

Additional keywords/tags

inquisitivenesshorse personality questionnairesociabilityprotectionanxiousnessanimal behaviourexcitabilitydominance
Organisation Logo for Harper Adams University

Supporting the development of the national rural economy.

Website

What Next...?

This is a brief summary of an item in the OpenFields Library. This free online library contains items of interest to practitioners and researchers in the agricultural and landbased industries.