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Project and Project Team

 

Projektgruppe Team Innovative Behaviour WS 2013/2014

So far, there has been very little research on innovative behaviour in horses, so we are setting up a database to collect details of individual cases. A similar project with birds has already yielded some important information on their innovations and problem solving abilities, while with 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 and  by Krueger et al. in 2014 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 and behaving 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 innovative behaviour in horses can enter their observations, and upload their pictures and videos of the unusual behaviour.

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 ther caretakers) focussing on door and gate opening for writing the first paper on the collected reports seems to pay. But, ... we need further reports, to swipe away the doubts. Finishing the paper is planned for fall 2016.

 

(click the pictures to enlarge)

 

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