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The effect of a neighbouring conspecific versus the use of a mirror for the control of stereotypic weaving behaviour in the stabled horse

  • D.S. Mills (a1) and K. Davenport (a1)


Weaving behaviour involves the repetitive lateral swaying of the head, neck, forequarters and sometimes hindquarters of the horse and is generally believed to be indicative of poor welfare. The behaviour of six known weavers was recorded three times a day for 5 days in each of three different stable designs. These were a conventional loose-box, a conventional loose-box with a 1 m2 acrylic mirror and a conventional loose-box in which there was a grilled 1 m2 side window separating the resident horse from a non-weaving conspecific in an adjacent stable. Weaving and other stereotypic behaviours were significantly higher in the unmodified stable and during the late afternoon observation period. There was no significant difference in the amount of stereotypic behaviour recorded in the two modified stables. Significant differences in the behaviour patterns and location of horses during the study suggest that activity engaging with either a visual image of a horse or a hay net is associated with a reduction in weaving and other repetitive activities in the stabled horse.


Corresponding author

Present address: Animal Behaviour, Cognition and Welfare Group, University of Lincoln, Caythorpe, Lincolnshire NG32 3EP. E-mail:


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