Post-conflict friendly reunion in a permanent group of horses (Equus caballus)

A Cozzi, C Sighieri, A Gazzano, CJ Nicol, P Baragli

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticle (Academic Journal)peer-review

    69 Citations (Scopus)


    Gregarious animals living in permanent social groups experience intra-group competition. Conflicts over resources can escalate into costly aggression and, in some conditions, non-dispersive forms of conflict resolution may be favoured. Post-conflict friendly reunions, hence reconciliation, have been described in a variety of species. The aim of this study was to explore, for the first time, the occurrence of reconciliation in a group of domestic horses (Equus caballus) and learn more about strategies used to maintain group cohesion. The behaviour of seven horses living as permanent group in an enclosure for at least 2 years was observed by video for 108 h from June to August 2007. We used a Post-Conflict/Matched Control method to assess the existence of reconciliation and third-party affiliation. Behaviours recorded Post-Conflict, or during Matched Control periods, were classified as affiliative based on previous descriptions of visual communication patterns in horses. The proportion of attracted pairs over total post-conflict situations was significantly greater than the proportion of dispersed pairs, both during dyadic interactions (p <0.001) and during triadic interactions (p = 0.002). The results of the present study show that both dyadic reconciliation and third-party post-conflict affiliative interactions form important social mechanisms for managing post-conflict situations in horses. (c) 2010 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.
    Translated title of the contributionPost-conflict friendly reunion in a permanent group of horses (Equus caballus)
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)185 - 190
    JournalBehavioural Processes
    Publication statusPublished - 2010


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