Since ancient times, horse behaviour, and the bond between horses and humans, has been a source of intrigue and fascination.
The horse-lore that has accumulated over the centuries is a rich mix of both useful practice (approaching horses from their left side, making them slightly less reactive) and unsubstantiated myth, such as the one that chestnut horses are especially difficult to deal with.
To explore the influence of training and management on horse behaviour, Professor Paul McGreevy and his research team at the University of Sydney have launched the Equine Behavior Assessment and Research Questionnaire (E-BARQ), a global database of horse behaviour.
The study aims to reveal information on how training and management affects behaviour and how, in turn, behaviour affects horse welfare.
It will show how breeds differ in responses and illuminate breed-typical personality types, how male and female horses differ, how horses used in different disciplines (such as show-jumping versus dressage) differ in their behaviour and how horse behaviour changes with maturation and training.
Beyond the immediate and direct research outcomes, the researchers suggest that E-BARQ also offers great benefits to horse owners, riders and trainers.
Owners will be able to compare their horse’s behaviour with that of other horses around the world. The “share-&-compare” graphs will reveal attributes such as trainability, rideability, handling, compliance, boldness, and human social confidence.
E-BARQ is open to all horse owners/handlers, regardless of their horses’ breed, height or age, and provides users with a free dashboard to store their horses’ results and track their progress.
Participants will gain an insight into where their horses are performing well and where they may need help. They will also be able to monitor their horse’s progress over time by returning to their E-BARQ dashboard every 6 months and re-taking the questionnaire, updating their scores.
You can access E-BARQ here:
You can watch an E-BARQ how-to video here: