2008 Student Research Conference:
21st Annual Student Research Conference

Determination of Dominance Hierarchy and the Influence of Preferred Association
Crystal R. Cunningham
Dr. Charlie Apter (Northeast Texas Community College) and Dr. Dean DeCock, Faculty Mentors

Agonistic interactions and preferred associations were studied in a domestic herd of 10 stock-type horses, half males and half females, aged 9-16 years. Dominance hierarchies were determined by two methods: paired feeding trials in which horses were tested once per day until all pairs were tested, and field observations where each horse was observed for a 20-minute focal sample once per day for 18 days. Spatial relationships during each sample were noted every 2 minutes and every 5 minutes on film from field observations to determine preferred associations. The rank order of the horses in each hierarchy was correlated with age, height, weight and gender, none of which significantly influenced dominance order. Males were found to have higher dominance ranks than females, although the level of aggression between the two genders was equal. Although the two hierarchies were similar, preferred associates tended to have similar rankings within the dominance order.

Keywords: dominance hierarchy, behavior, horses, preferred association, field observations, aggression, paired feeding trials, University Farm

Topic(s):Agricultural Science

Presentation Type: Oral Paper

Session: 29-2
Location: VH 1428
Time: 1:30

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