Chestnut Horses Aren’t All Crazy, Study Finds

by | 03.28.2016 | 8:00am

Most people have heard the stereotype that redheads have bad tempers–and some people believe this about red-colored horses, as well.

However, European scientists recently debunked this myth, reports The Horse. Research shows that there is no scientific basis behind the long-held belief that chestnut horses are fierier. The researchers fear that the stereotype may even endanger the horses' welfare, with owners and riders possibly assuming that a chestnut horse is being bad because “that's how they are,” instead of investigating if there is something more wrong, such as ill saddle fit or injury.

Researchers used questionnaires to analyze data regarding horse's breed, behavior, age, sex, discipline, and coat color in 477 bay and chestnut horses. Researchers determined from the preliminary study that there were associations between specific behavior traits and age, sex and breed, but coat color didn't appear to influence what people deemed “crazy” behavior, which includes kicking and rearing.

However, there was a behavioral characteristic among chestnuts that many riders may actually enjoy: boldness. Researchers noted that chestnut horses were more likely to approach unfamiliar animals and objects, a useful characteristic for trail riding and many competitive endeavors.

Read the full study in Applied Animal Behaviour Science

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