Seeking the best horse groups

The behaviour of young horses is influenced by the composition of the group, research of the University of Rennes in France shows. According to the researchers, the composition of the group plays a large role ...
in the development of social behaviour in horses under the age of three. Five groups of wild Przewalski’s horses were studied, all groups having a different composition. The ratio’s grown ups/ young horses varied between 0.67 (two grown up horses for every three young animals) and 1.33 (four grown ups for every three young animals). The results were remarkable. A lower ration corresponded with more aggressive youngsters, but also with a closer relationship between the young animals. Young animals and grown up animals were even seen to form different groups. It is clear that the composition of the group has a close relationship with the social behaviour of the animals and the social composition within the group. When grown ups form a minority, they seem to lack influence.

The researchers point out that these effects should be taken into account when keeping groups of horses. One may ask whether it is really that wise to keep foals in one group with only one a few mares.