The behavior problems of horses are frequently related to management practices. Behaviors that are termed stall vices appear to be either stereotyped behaviors that occur in reaction to stress, or patterns that emerge when natural behaviors such as grazing are prevented. The behavior cases presented to the New York State College of Veterinary Medicine, Cornell University, were tabulated: 27% were stall vices and 27% were some form of aggression. The stall vices were circling, digging, kicking the stall, chewing wood, swallowing air or self-mutilation. Management of horses on pasture rather than in stalls prevents the development of many of these stall vices and should, therefore, be considered a more humane treatment particularly for those horses that do not adapt well to confinement.
Aggression toward other horses is a problem that results from isolating horses, which prevents formation of the normal equine social hierarchy. The social structure of free-ranging and domestic horse herds is reviewed in order to compare it with the structure created by modern management practices.
Behavior patterns under natural and various management regimes are also compared.
Houpt, K.A. (1981). Equine behavior problems in relation to humane management. International Journal for the Study of Animal Problems, 2(6), 329-337.