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Abstract and Summary

Foals were observed to snap to juvenile and adult ponies and, rarely, to other foals in a wide variety of circumstances. There was no difference in the rate of snapping by colts and fillies. Colts snapped to a stallion more often than would be expected if they were snapping randomly to any adult; fillies snapped randomly to either sex. In (mean ± SE) 21 ± 5% of the cases the foal approached the pony to which it snapped. In 24 ± 3% of the cases the foal was approached by the pony to which it snapped, while in 54 ± 6% of the cases the two were in immediate proximity prior to the snapping. No aggression was directed toward the foal in 62 ± 5 % of the cases. Aggression was directed toward the foal before snapping in 31 ± 5% of the cases and after initiation of snapping in 7 ± 1% of the cases. Adults and foals also nosed each other before and after snapping. Mares sometimes responded to snapping by their own foal, usually by exhibiting aggression toward the pony to which the foal had snapped. It was concluded that snapping may have multiple signal functions, depending on context and that it may be a displacement activity of foals and young horses derived from nursing behavior.

Zusammenfassung

Unter verschiedenen Umständen schnappten Fohlen (männliche und weibliche gleich häufig) nach jungen und ausgewachsenen Ponies, selten jedoch nach anderen Fohlen. Männliche Fohlen schnappten öfter als erwartet nach einem Hengst, weibliche schnappten ohne Unterschied nach beiden Geschlechtern. In 62 ± 5% der Fälle war kein aggressives Verhalten gegen das Fohlen gerichtet. Es gab gegenseitiges Nasenreiben zwischen Fohlen und ausgewachsenen Tieren vor und nach dem Schnappen. Wenn das eigene Fohlen nach einem Pony schnappte, zeigten Stuten gelegentlich aggressives Verhalten gegen das Pony. Es scheint, daß Schnappen verschiedene Funktionen haben kann, je nach Zusammenhang, und daß es sich dabei um eine Übersprungbewegung von Fohlen und jungen Pferden handelt, die vom Säugeverhalten herstammt.