What is this project all about?
Innovative behaviour means, when an animal takes a new approach
to solve an environmental technology or social problem. The
innovative behavior in horses has been poorly understood. Since
data collection has been running using a questionnaire as part
of a study project in Nürtingen. Analysis of the database showed
that horses are innovative. Based on the findings of the data
analysis it now will be determined using a test, how many horses
really are innovative and how innovation happens. Given an
automatic feeder for the experimental test, which can be mounted in
the box of the horses. The operation of a feeding station without
prior demonstration may be regarded as innovative behavior. The
investigations will be made on horses kept in boxes, so we can
guarantee that the horses solve the task independently. We also
know that animals accomplish the best cognitive performance in
their familiar surroundings.
Innovative behavior is considered as a sign of intelligence, so we want to do some more steps to decode their cognitive abilities.
What is the project goal and who is the project for?
The aim is to better make out the intelligence of horses. The number of horses in Germany has quadrupled in the past 40 years to 1.1 million. Interest in a respectful treatment and a fair attitude is growing. But only if we know the cognitive ability of horses, we can truly understand their needs. This project is not only interesting for horse lovers and animal rights activists. Even those who are interested in the evolution of intelligence in general are part of the target group.
Why would you support this project?
No other animal plays a greater role in shaping societies than the horse. Animal welfare in equestrian sport is more than ever the subject of public discussion. Especially alternative education systems that are responsive to the individual horse is highly valued today.
How will we use the money if the project is successfully funded?
Upon successful funding I will implement the project. Unfortunately, my salary is not enough to finance the expenditure incurred by my promotion costs.
What are the costs?
To ensure a lively exchange, our working group meets every four
weeks in Nuertingen. A ride cost me € 140. That makes for 18
meetings in total € 2,520. Then I have to go into the stalls to
make my investigations. It falls to 800 € fuel costs. Also still
meeting costs are added in the amount of 1500 € with arrival and
accommodation. Furthermore, I need € 90 for the construction of
the feeder. The horse feed to fill the machine costs about € 250.
To record my experiments I bought cameras and hard drives. The
Electronics has cost € 840. Overall it makes € 6,000 in
This sum represents the absolute minimum. If more money comes together, the project can be further expanded.
Who are the people behind the project?
Behind the project is a cooperation of the Department of Animal Welfare, Ethology, Animal Hygiene and Animal Husbandry of the University in Munich and the University of Economics and the Environment in Nürtingen - Geislingen. Care is the work of Dr. Anna-Caroline Wöhr, AORin, animal welfare officers and specialist vet for animal welfare and Prof. Dr. Konstanze Krüger, veterinarian and professor of horses. Performed is the work by myself, Laureen Esch, veterinarian and horse trainer.