The temperament of horses appears linked to levels of two important hormones, according to a fresh study.
Researchers at Kyungpook National University in South Korea concluded that levels of oxytocin and serotonin could be used as biomarkers to monitor the fearfulness, dominance, and trainability of horses. Oxytocin and serotonin are essential neurotransmitters associated with the behavior of animals.
Junyoung Kim and his fellow researchers said they recently found that the plasma concentration of oxytocin is positively correlated with horse docility and friendliness toward humans.
However, the relationships between key neurotransmitters and other traits such as fearfulness, dominance, and trainability are unknown. Plasma concentrations of serotonin was not significantly correlated with the degree of trainability. However, plasma serotonin concentrations tended to be higher in the high trainability group compared with those in the medium trainability group.
Discussing their research, the researchers said their findings were in agreement with other studies showing that oxytocin reduces fearfulness in many species.
The findings support the study team’s speculation that a high concentration of oxytocin can enhance the interrelationship between horses and humans, and this relationship is associated with higher trainability.