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Locomotor Inhibition in Adult Horses Faced to Stressors: A Single Postpartum Experience May be Enough!

Abstract : Despite the number of postpartum handling that a newborn experiences, few studies focus on their long-term consequences. In rats, regular long separations from the mother, during the early life, led to modifications of the locomotor activity when the animal is confronted to a stressor. In horses, one component of the behavioral response to stressful situation is active locomotion. We wondered if the routine postpartum handling undergone by foals, would affect their level of reactivity or the way they express their stress, when older. One single prolonged bout of handling just after birth clearly affected later adult expression of stress reactivity. In social separation associated with novelty, handled, and unhandled horses produced an equal amount of whinnies, showing a similar vocal response to stress. However, both groups differed in their locomotor response to the situations. Early handled foals expressed less of the active forms of locomotion than the control group. Our findings highlight the need of further reflections on long-term effects of routine handlings procedures close to birth.
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Virginie Durier, Séverine Henry, Carol Sankey, Jacques Sizun, Martine Hausberger. Locomotor Inhibition in Adult Horses Faced to Stressors: A Single Postpartum Experience May be Enough!. Frontiers in Psychology, Frontiers, 2012, 3, pp.442. ⟨10.3389/fpsyg.2012.00442⟩. ⟨hal-01020434⟩

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