Ethogram Project

There is a vast amount of knowledge on the behaviour of horses, Equus (ferus) caballus, however, much of this information is often scattered in different journals, books, websites, and field workers notes.The Equus Ethogram Project [EEP], attempts to amass the wealth of information on equid behaviour, into an online database.

This section of the site is an online ethogram, it is a structured inventory of equid species typical behaviour, mainly Equus (ferus) caballus. In this inventory, the activities that occupy the daily lives and seasonal behaviour patterns of horses, are broken down into discrete behavioural units for ease of classification and future reference.

An ethogram, is a catalogue of species typical behaviour. An inventory of behaviour patterns described in detail, likely broken down into units of behaviour which are grouped together and classified, one way or another, depending on established grouping criteria.

Developing an ethogram, based on direct observations, is basic to further understanding animal behaviour (Martin and Bateson, 2001), and greatly aids quantitative behavioural studies (Lehner, 1996). An ethogram also facilitates comparisons of behaviour between related species or within the same species under different circumstances.

For ease of cataloguing, behaviour patterns are grouped under 6 main behavioural categories; Maintenance, Investigative, Play, Reproductive, Locomotive, and Social Behaviour.

By grouping observed  behaviour patterns into a readily understandable catalogue, we can help describe and understand how a particular species interacts in a given environment. By clearly defining units or elements of behaviour, and ensuring that they are readily distinguishable from one another, comparisons can be made within and among individuals, genders, groups, species, as well as between different contextual situations.

Developing the EEP demands considerable amounts of time spent observing and recording behaviour for later classification and analysis. Only by bringing together the work of countless authors can such a feat be accomplished. In this light, we acknowledge and appreciate the work of all those before us, who have, in some way or other, dedicated their time and effort in studying the intricacies of animal behaviour. Without their initial insight, this Equus Ethogram would not have been possible.

We appreciate and need your support for this program and would be grateful if you joined our team. Get involved.

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Further reading:

Quantifying Equid Behavior—A Research Ethogram for Free-Roaming Feral Horses (Ransom & Cade, 2009)

An Ethogram for the Laboratory Mouse – (Joseph Garner’s Lab at Stanford University)

Equid play ethogram (McDonnell & Poulin, 2002)

Agonistic ethogram of the equid bachelor band (McDonnell & Haviland, 1995)

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