Innovative Behaviour

Project Innovative Behaviour in Horses

So far, there has been very little research on innovative behaviour in horses. Therefore, we set up a database to collect reports on individual cases of "unusual behaviour". Comparable projects with birds and apes have already yielded some important information on innovations and problem solving abilities in these species, while for horses even their ability to think and reason is often questioned.

Innovative behaviour is considered to be a sign of intelligence, as is the ability to learn by watching. An experiment by Krueger and Heinze in 2008, Krueger et al. in 2014, and Schuetz et al 2016 showed that horses can learn by watching each other, a phenomenon called “social learning”. This suggests that horses are more intelligent than previously thought. This project aims to take this further, by finding out whether horses are also capable of coming up with their own solutions for solving problems in their environment in an innovative way.

The project was initiated by groups of the fifth and the sixth term 'Equine- Management’ students at Nuertingen-Geislingen University, in Germany. Under the leadership of Prof. Konstanze Krueger a questionnaire has been created. Using this online questionnaire, anyone noticing “unusual” behaviour in horses can enter their observations, and upload their pictures and videos of the behaviour.

A first manuscript on the impact of the management the animals are kept in on the horses’, mules’ and donkeys’ novel, behavioural adaptations is under preparation.
Further manuscripts on analysing particular behaviours which were reported a t the web side will follow.

A second questionnaire is available now for reporting about abilities of horses to open doors and gates. As this behaviour has been reported frequently, the cleverness of the behaviour is frequently underestimated, and  it has usually not been trained (as it comprises some danger for the horse and their caretakers) focussing on door and gate opening for writing a paper on the collected reports seems to pay. But, we need further reports, to swipe away the doubts.

A manuscript on “Horses, mules and donkeys abilities to open locked doors and gates” is about to be finished in a couple weeks. 

You will find more information about the project >here< and at the front page >here<

Laureen Esch

just writes her phd about innovative behaviour in horses. You will find more information about her projects >here>

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