Reflections on mare behavior: social and sexual perspectives

Curry, Mark R., Eady, Paul E. and Mills, Daniel S. (2007) Reflections on mare behavior: social and sexual perspectives. Journal of Veterinary Behavior: Clinical Applications and Research, 2 (5). pp. 149-157. ISSN 1558-7878

Full content URL:

Full text not available from this repository.

Item Type:Article
Item Status:Live Archive


Among horse owners "mare-ishness" is easily recognized, if poorly defined, as generally awkward or recalcitrant behavior. In common with other mammals, however, horses do show a range of female-specific behavior patterns concerned particularly with sexual and maternal functions but also encompassing aspects of social peer interaction. Many of these behavior patterns are observed more easily in free living feral populations and are repressed at least partially under standard domestic management regimes. Feral horses form small stable breeding groups within which mares create linear dominance hierarchies based on the outcomes of aggressive encounters and positive social bonding. Rank within the social hierarchy may also influence reproductive success, with dominant mares having shorter foaling intervals and earlier foaling than lower ranking subordinate mares. Advantageous early foaling may reflect preferential mating by the group stallion based either simply on enhanced physical condition leading to earlier reproductive cycling in dominant mares or on an increased attractiveness to dominant mares by the stallion contingent on some aspect of dominance characteristics. The endocrine axis responsible for regulation of sexual behavior in the mare shows a degree of commonality with systems underlying social dominance. Both these behavior patterns are driven by a complex interaction of endocrine and neuro-endocrine factors sensitive to physical and social environmental cues and in feral free-living horses these are interlinked to an extent that may be under appreciated in domestic breeding populations. © 2007 Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

Keywords:Equidae, Mammalia
Subjects:D Veterinary Sciences, Agriculture and related subjects > D300 Animal Science
D Veterinary Sciences, Agriculture and related subjects > D328 Animal Welfare
Divisions:College of Science > School of Life Sciences
Related URLs:
ID Code:9057
Deposited On:05 May 2013 19:15

Repository Staff Only: item control page