Stereotypies and Learning RatesBy Kentucky Equine Research Staff · February 15, 2010
Stereotypies are repetitive behaviors like weaving, stall walking, head bobbing, and cribbing that are often seen in horses that spend a great deal of time confined to their stalls. A study conducted in France involved 70 horses, 51 of which exhibited stereotypic behavior.
In the study, each horse could get a treat by using its nose to open a box. Among the horses that did not show stereotypies, 85% quickly learned to open the box, while less than 30% of the horses with stereotypies mastered the skill in the time allowed.
While there is no certain explanation of why these repetitive habits are linked to horses that learn more slowly, horse trainers should take this characteristic into consideration. Owners might also look at ways to allow horses more time for unconfined exercise, as this may minimize the development of stereotypies in some equines.