Horse Behaviour: Evolution, Domestication and Feralisation

Part of the Animal Welfare book series (AWNS, volume 1)


The evolution of the horse began some 65 million years ago. The horse’s survival has depended on adapative behaviour patterns that enabled it to exploit a diverse range of habitats, to successfully rear its young and to avoid predation. Domestication took place relatively recently in evolutionary time and the adaptability of equine behaviour has allowed it to exploit a variety of domestic environments. Though there are benefits associated with the domestic environment, including provision of food, shelter and protection from predators, there are also costs. These include restriction of movement, social interaction, reproductive success and maternal behaviour. Many aspects of domestication conflict with the adaptive behaviour of the horse and may affect its welfare through the frustration of highly motivated behaviour patterns. Horse behaviour appears little changed by domestication, as evidenced by the reproductive success of feral horse populations around the world.


Domestic Environment Domestic Horse Wild Horse Feral Horse Mountain Zebra 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


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Copyright information

© Springer 2007

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Medicine, Health and Life SciencesUniversity of SouthamptonSouthamptonUK

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