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Horse Behavior Categories

Dr. Camie HeleskiSpeakerDr. Camie Heleski, Michigan State University

Summary: Understanding the categories of horse behavior will help you know whether your horse is behaving normally or not. The following categories of horse behavior will be discussed: ingestive (eating & drinking), eliminative, investigative, social facilitation, care giving and care seeking, sexual, aggressive, contactual and play. By understanding the primary categories of horse behaviors, you can become more in tune with your horse and provide your horse a safer and happier environment. You will be able to enhance your horse's well-being and increase your enjoyment by practicing safer and more effective horsemanship.

Speaker Information: Dr. Camie Heleski is coordinator of the two-year Ag Tech Horse Management Program at Michigan State University. As well as recruiting for the program, she also teaches and advises. Dr. Heleski earned her Ph.D. from Michigan State University in the area of animal behavior and welfare. Visit Dr. Heleski's Ag Tech Horse Management Program for more information at

Dr. Heleski’s research interests encompass several different areas of horse behavior and welfare, as well as horse-human interaction. Several of her recent projects fall under the fairly new category of equitation science: Recent work includes the following: assessing the impact on mood of adolescent girls interacting with horses; monitoring weather conditions related to shelter seeking behavior in horses; can appropriately fitted martingales enhance the well-being of lesson horses ridden by novices; comparing negative reinforcement with positive reinforcement for teaching horses and donkeys to cross a novel object; what impact does therapeutic riding have on at-risk youth; and do therapeutic riding horses experience more stress than traditionally ridden horses.

Read the related article, Primary Categories of Equine Behavior, in  magazine.

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