Horse Behavior: Researchers Need a Welfare Ethogram

Scientists and handlers use a large range of methods and opinions when interpreting equine behavior. A researcher from New Zealand calls for a standard.

No account yet? Register


Horse Behavior: Researchers Need a Welfare Ethogram
Scientists seemed to evaluate overall emotional state—which, Waran said, becomes more important when considering a horse’s true welfare status—best by observing horses’ behavioral habits and how they evolve over time. | Photo: iStock

We’re moving toward a new era of equine welfare. And with it comes a new understanding of how to assess how well each horse is faring.

Specifically, a shift from focusing on negative welfare to positive welfare has pushed scientists and handlers alike to try to read horses’ emotions. But with a large range of views, methods, and interpretation of equine behavior, it’s time for a consensus, said one researcher.

“We want to know how horses feel, what their mental state is, and make sure that they’re living a good life,” said Natalie Waran, PhD, equitation science fellow and professor of One Welfare at Eastern Institute of Technology, in Napier, New Zealand

Create a free account with to view this content. is home to thousands of free articles about horse health care. In order to access some of our exclusive free content, you must be signed into

Start your free account today!

Already have an account?
and continue reading.


Written by:

Passionate about horses and science from the time she was riding her first Shetland Pony in Texas, Christa Lesté-Lasserre writes about scientific research that contributes to a better understanding of all equids. After undergrad studies in science, journalism, and literature, she received a master’s degree in creative writing. Now based in France, she aims to present the most fascinating aspect of equine science: the story it creates. Follow Lesté-Lasserre on Twitter @christalestelas.

Related Articles

Stay on top of the most recent Horse Health news with

FREE weekly newsletters from

Sponsored Content

Weekly Poll

sponsored by:

Has your veterinarian used SAA testing for your horse(s)?
94 votes · 94 answers

Readers’ Most Popular

Sign In

Don’t have an account? Register for a FREE account here.

Need to update your account?

You need to be logged in to fill out this form

Create a free account with!