5th December 2005

 

NEW RESEARCH INTO HORSE BEHAVIOUR

 

An expert in animal behaviour at the University of Lincoln has been given funding to look into different ways of improving the lives of stabled horses.

 

Dr Jonathan Cooper of the Animal Behaviour, Cognition and Welfare Research Group at Riseholme Park has been awarded a Higher Education Regional Innovation Fellowship to work on environmental enrichment for stabled horses.

 

The fellowship brings funding from the Higher Education Funding Council to help academics develop ideas into commercial products and forge closer links with industry.

 

Dr Cooper will now be able to employ a research technician to support projects in equine behaviour and welfare.

 

The projects will provide a better understanding of horses' behavioural and physiological responses to their environment, assess their environmental requirements and identify changes to the horses' environment that improve their quality of life.

 

The work will build on established research into equine behaviour and welfare conducted by Dr Cooper and colleagues at the University of Lincoln's equine unit at Riseholme Park.

 

Up to now researchers have focused on changes to the horses’ feeding patterns and social environment. For example, having discovered that providing contact with other horses reduces repetitive, stereotypic activities such as weaving in horses,  researchers then found that mirrors installed in stables have a similar effect.

 

Further studies verified the long-term positive effects of providing mirrors for weaving horses and an equine mirror is now commercially available.

 

“We anticipate that the fellowship awarded to Dr Cooper will enable us to test the commercial viability of other means of enriching the lives of stabled horses,” said a university spokesman.

 

 

For more information contact:

Jez Ashberry, Press and Media Relations Manager

01522 886042                         jashberry@lincoln.ac.uk

Visit our news web pages:      www.lincoln.ac.uk/news/latestnews.htm