Validation of a temperament test in the Norwegian horse breeds
Journal article, Peer reviewed
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Original versionApplied Animal Behaviour Science. 2019, 219 . 10.1016/j.applanim.2019.104836
The competitive edge of the National horse breeds in Norway is assumed to be strengthened by utilizing their temperament as a trait in the breeding goal. Previously, the temperament of the Norwegian horse breeds is described through five common factors, and there is a need for developing a test for temperament. In this study, 63 horses were tested at 6 different farms, through a proposed test procedure consisting of seven test moments composed of different obstacles/tasks. The performance of the horses was video recorded and individual heart rate was monitored. Through a developed ethogram, in total 43 traits were scored and related to the five factors from the former study and to the heart rate registrations. The proposed temperament test identified four of the five factors describing the temperament of the Norwegian horse breeds, except agreeableness. The seven test moments could be grouped into static objects, dynamic objects and precision tasks. The static and the dynamic, novel objects in the test triggered especially expressions of anxiousness and openness. Flight behaviour appeared as a suitable trait to record anxiousness, which was supported by increased heart rate, and openness seemed to be well recorded through explorative behaviour. Further, conscientiousness seemed to be best caught through the precision tasks when recording traits like focus on task and task performance. Dominance was not clearly related to any of the traits in the ethogram and there was a certain overlap with conscientiousness, which calls for more knowledge of the correlation between these two traits. The proposed test gave promising results, but the description of the traits should be improved, and a future test should vary test moments within category to avoid habituation.