Maintenance Behaviour (M)

Maintenance activities typically involve the ingestion of food and drink, comfort seeking, elimination, and behavior related to rest, all of which typically function to maintain the physiological stasis, comfort, and appearance of the animal. Up to 90% of the daily equine time budget is spent on these activities.

Many behaviour patterns and units included under this category are typically carried out in close proximity to other group members. Grazing and rest are an example of synchronized group activities, where it is likely that when one group member grazes or rests, others will follow. Comfort seeking too, is often a social affair. As is dunging and urination.

Only for want of space and convenience, is Social Behaviour separately classified from Maintenance activities. In reality, one must consider that equine life is a social one.

In ‘The Equid Ethogram’ published by McDonnell (2003), the Maintenance Behaviour category included the subcategories; ingestive behaviour, elimination, locomotion, rest, comfort and shelter seeking behaviour. Ransom & Cade (2009), included ‘Standing attentive’ behaviour under the Maintenance category in their ‘Quantifying Equid Behavior—A Research Ethogram for Free-Roaming Feral Horses’.

In this ethogram, behaviour related to Locomotion (McDonnell, 2003) is classified under a category of its own. Also, Shelter Seeking (McDonnell, 2003) is included under the sub-category Comfort Seeking. ‘Standing Attentive’ (Ransom & Cade, 2009) has been classified under Defense related behaviour.

For the purpose of this ethogram, we have classified Maintenance Behaviour into 4 functional categories:

Behaviour related to feeding and drinking.

Behaviour related to repose.

  • Comfort seeking

Behaviour related to relief from inclement external and internal environmental conditions.

  • Eliminative

Behaviour related to the expulsion of waste products from the body.

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