Sensory laterality in affiliative interactions in domestic horses and ponies (Equus caballus)

Kate Farmer, Konstanze Krüger, Richard W. Byrne, Isabell Marr

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35 Citations (Scopus)


Many studies have been carried out into both motor and sensory laterality of horses in agonistic and stressful situations. Here we examine sensory laterality in affiliative interactions within four groups of domestic horses and ponies (N = 31), living in stable social groups, housed at a single complex close to Vienna, Austria, and demonstrate for the first time a significant population preference for the left side in affiliative approaches and interactions. No effects were observed for gender, rank, sociability, phenotype, group, or age. Our results suggest that right hemisphere specialization in horses is not limited to the processing of stressful or agonistic situations, but rather appears to be the norm for processing in all social interactions, as has been demonstrated in other species including chicks and a range of vertebrates. In domestic horses, hemispheric specialization for sensory input appears not to be based on a designation of positive versus negative, but more on the perceived need to respond quickly and appropriately in any given situation.
Original languageEnglish
JournalAnimal Cognition
VolumeIn press
Early online date9 Jun 2018
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 9 Jun 2018


  • Laterality
  • Equine
  • Affiliative
  • Behaviour


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