Equis ISSN 2398-2977

Behavior: weaving

Contributor(s): Bonnie Beaver, Caroline Hahn, Daniel Mills, Natalie Waran, Miss Amanda Waters

Introduction

  • Signs: swinging of the head, neck and anterior parts of the body from side to side; the hind limbs also move in walking cadence.
  • Cause: stabling for long periods, narrow stall confinement, lack of social contacts, lack of turn-out, lack of exercise.
  • Diagnosis: rule out causes of pain in forefeet.
  • Treatment: avoid leaving horses without exercise for long periods; turn out at pasture or pen with other horses.
  • Prognosis: can develop into a stereotypy.
Print off the Owner factsheets on Vices - why and how to manage them and Weaving to give to your clients.

Pathogenesis

Etiology

  • Minimal social interaction with other horses.
  • Lack of turn out or exercise.
  • Predictable stable routine.
  • No evidence that horses may copy the behavior, but widespread belief that this may occur, causes owners to isolate these animals.
  • Pain in front feet (rarely).
  • Unevenness of stable floor (rarely).

Predisposing factors

General
  • More common on smaller yards.
  • Minimal social interaction with other horses.
  • Long periods stabled without exercise or exercise in smaller pastures <1.5 hectares (<3.7 acres).
  • Predictable and routine management practices.
  • More prevalent in Thoroughbreds   Thoroughbred  and warmbloods than Standardbreds   Standardbred  and coldbloods.
  • Bedding on any substrate other than straw.
  • Horses that already box walk   Behavior: circling - box walking   are more likely to weave than normal horses.
  • Less than 6.8 kg of forage/day and only hay available as the forage.

Pathophysiology

  • Usually results from long periods in stable without exercise or social interaction and a regular routine.
  • Stepping may occur due to pain in front feet or unevenness of stable floor, although rare.
  • Arousing event or prediction of arousing event increases motivation for locomotion which is frustrated by the barrier of the stable. Lack of opportunity to engage in other activities -> perseveration in the behavior.
  • Has been suggested that weaving horses may be more prone to tendon injuries, but no scientific evidence to substantiate this. By contrast the activity may improve circulation to the lower limbs and feet.
  • Weavers may also be more likely to show 'impulsive' aggression over the stable door to passers by. This may be indicative of the frustration of these animals.

Timecourse

  • Chronic or recurrent behavior pattern.

Diagnosis

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Treatment

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Prevention

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Outcomes

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Further Reading

Publications

Refereed papers

  • Recent references from PubMed and VetMedResource.
  • Freire R, Clegg H A, Buckley P, Friend M A & McGreevy P D (2008) Behavioural and physiological effects of virginiamycin in the diets of horses with steretypies. Vet Rec 163 (14), 413-417 PubMed.
  • Waters A J, Nicol C J & French N P (2002) The development of stereotypic and redirected behaviours in young horses: the findings of a four year prospective epidemiological study. Equine Vet J 43, 572-579 PubMed.
  • Mills D S & Davenport K (2002) The effect of a neighbouring conspecific versus the use of a mirror for the control of stereotypic weaving behaviour in the stabled horse. Anim Sci 74, 95-101 VetMedResource.
  • McAfee L M, Mills D S & Cooper J J (2002) The use of mirrors for the control of stereotypic weaving behaviour in the stabled horse. Applied Anim Behaviour Sci 78, 159-173 VetMedResource.
  • McBride S D & Cuddeford D (2001) The putative welfare-reducing effects of preventing equine stereotypic behaviour. Anim Welfare 10, 173-189 VetMedResource.
  • Waters A J, Nicol C J & French N P (2001) Factors influencing the development of stereotypic and redirected behaviors in young horses - the findings of a four year prospective epidemiological study. Equine Vet J 34 (6), 572-579 PubMed.
  • Henderson J V & Waran N K (2001) Reducing equine stereotypies using the Equiball. Anim Welfare 10, 73-80 VetMedResource.
  • Cooper J J, McDonald L & Mills D S (2000) The effect of increasing visual horizons on stereotypic weaving - implications for the social housing of stabled horses. Applied Animal Behavior Science 69, 67-83 PubMed.
  • Nicol C J (1999) Understanding equine stereotypies. Equine Vet J 28, 20-25 PubMed.
  • Cooper J J & Mason G J (1998) The identification of abnormal behaviour and behavioral problems in stabled horses and their relationship to horse welfare - a comparative review. Equine Vet J 27, 5-9 PubMed.
  • Luescher U A, McKeown D B & Dean H (1998) A cross-sectional study on compulsive behavior (stable vices) in horses. Equine Vet J 27, 14-18 PubMed.
  • Redbo L, Redbo-Torstensson P, Odberg F O, Hedendahl A & Holm J (1998) Factors affecting behavioural disturbances in race-horses. Animal Sci 66, 475-481 VetMedResource.
  • Winskill L C, Young R J, Channing C E, Hurley J & Waran N K (1996) The effect of a foraging device (a modified Edinburgh foodball) on the behaviour of the stabled horse. Applied Anim Behaviour Sci 48, 25-35 VetMedResource.
  • McGreevy P D, Cripps P J, French N P, Green L E & Nicol C J (1995) Management factors associated with stereotypic and redirected behaviour in the Thoroughbred horse. Equine Vet J 27 (2), 86-91 PubMed.
  • McGreevy P D, French N P & Nicol C J (1995) The prevalence of abnormal behaviours in dressage, eventing and endurance horses in relation to stabling. Vet Rec 137 (2), 36-37 PubMed.
  • Mason G J (1991) Stereotypies - a critical review. Animal Behavior 41 (6), 1015-1037 VetMedResource.

Other sources of information

  • Waran N (2002) Ed. The Welfare of Horses. Kluwer Academic, Netherlands.
  • Mills D S & Nankervis K J (1999) Equine Behaviour: Principles and Practice. Blackwell Science, UK.
  • Cooper J J, McDonald L & Mills D S (1999) Increasing Visual Horizons Reduces Stereotypic Patterns of Weaving in the Stabled Horse. In: Proceedings of the BEVA Specialist Days on Behavior and Nutrition. 38th BEVA Congress, Harrogate. pp 22-24.
  • Cooper J J, McDonald L & Mills D S (1999) Stable Design and Stereotypic Weaving. In: Proceedings of the 38th BEVA Congress, Harrogate. pp 33-34.


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