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The Mind of the Horse: An Introduction to Equine Cognition

By: Michel-Antoine Leblanc (Author), Giselle Weiss (Translated by)

436 pages, 60 b/w photos, 16 colour & 52 b/w illustrations, 15 tables

Harvard University Press

Hardback | Nov 2013 | #207625 | ISBN-13: 9780674724969
Availability: Usually dispatched within 5 days Details
NHBS Price: £29.95 $37/€34 approx

About this book

Horses were first domesticated about 6000 years ago on the vast Eurasian steppe extending from Mongolia to the Carpathian Mountains. Yet only in the last two decades have scientists begun to explore the specific mental capacities of these animals. Responding to a surge of interest in fields from ethology to comparative psychology and evolutionary biology, Michel-Antoine Leblanc presents an encyclopedic synthesis of scientific knowledge about equine behavior and cognition. The Mind of the Horse provides experts and enthusiasts alike with an up-to-date understanding of how horses perceive, think about, and adapt to their physical and social worlds.

Much of what we know – or think we know – about "the intelligence of the horse" derives from fragmentary reports and anecdotal evidence. Putting this accumulated wisdom to the test, Leblanc introduces readers to rigorous experimental investigations into how horses make sense of their world under varying conditions. He describes the anatomical and neurophysiological characteristics of the horse's brain, and offers an evolutionary perspective by comparing these features with those of other species. A horseman himself, Leblanc also considers the opinions of renowned riding masters, as well as controversies surrounding the extraordinary powers of the horse's mind that have stirred in equestrian and scientific circles.

Although scientists understand more today about how horses think than at any time in our species' long acquaintance with these animals, much remains in the dark. The Mind of the Horse brings together the current state of equine research and will likely stimulate surprising new discoveries.

"The Mind of the Horse provides an extensive review of all the physiological studies on horse perception. It is an essential reference work for researchers of horse behavior."
– Temple Grandin, editor of Genetics and the Behavior of Domestic Animals


    Foreword to the French edition
    Foreword to the English edition
    1. What We Know about the Nature of the Horse
        Then and Now
        Discovering the Real Life of Free-Ranging Horses
        The Emergence of a New Field of Research: The Cognitive Ethology of the Horse
    2. Equine Intelligence
        Are Horses Smart? One Question, Several Answers
        A Rash of Clever Horses
    3. Animal Intelligence, Cognition, and Representation
        Intelligence and Cognition
        Animal Behavior, Cognition, and Representation
    4. The Equine Brain
        Nervous Tissue and the General Organization of the Mammalian Nervous System
        Brain and Mind in the Light of Evolution
    5. The Nature of Equine Perception
        Perception: A Dynamic Process That Constructs the World
        A Few Issues Regarding the Study of Equine Perception
    6. The Anatomical and Physiological Basis of Equine Visual Perception
        Size, Arrangement of the Eyes, and Visual Field
        Anatomical Structure of the Eye
        A Short Tour of the Anatomy of the Retina
        Structure of the Retina and Visual Quality
        Optical Pathways and Cortical Distribution
        Chromatic Theory and Color Perception
    7. The Behavioral Exploration of Equine Visual Perception: Perception of Shapes and Movement
        Experimental Procedures
        Visual Acuity
        The Visual Field
        Night Vision
        The Visual Apparatus: An Integrated System…
        …In the Context of Cerebral Hemispheric Specialization
        Perceiving the Third Dimension
        Image Recognition
        Object Recognition
        Perceiving Movement
        The Equine Visual Environment: Seen as a Whole or the Sum of Its Parts?
    8. The Behavioral Exploration of Equine Visual Perception: The Quest for Color Perception
        A Vexing Dimension: Brightness
        A Pioneering Study (Grzimek 1952)
        An Inconclusive Replication (Pick et al. 1994)
        An Apparent Confirmation of Grzimek’s Results (Smith and Goldman 1999)
        New Uncertainties Centering on Brightness (Macuda and Timney 1999)
        The Evidence for a Neutral Point (Geisbauer et al. 2004)
        Color Preferences (Hall et al. 2005)
        Do Horses Perceive the Entire Color Spectrum? (Hall et al. 2006)
        The Neutral Point: Break or Continuity? (Roth, Balkenius, and Kelber 2007)
        Equine Dichromacy: A Qualification (Hanggi, Ingersoll, and Waggoner 2007)
        A New Experiment in Chromatic Discrimination (Blackmore et al. 2008)
        How Well Do Horses Discriminate Color in Half-Light? (Roth, Balkenius, and Kelber 2008)
        Colors That Can Be Fairly Well Discriminated across the Light Spectrum (Timney and Macuda 2009)
        A Provisional Summing Up
    9. Hearing in Horses
        Nature, Representation, and Characterization of Acoustic Information
        The Equine Auditory System: Anatomy and Physiology
        Behavioral Exploration of Equine Auditory Perception
    10. Equine Chemical Perception: Odors, Pheromones, Tastes, and Flavors
        Olfactory Perception in the Horse
        From Taste to Flavor
    11. Tactile Perception in the Horse
        Structure and Function of Horse Skin
        Receptors: Equine Sensory Pathways and Skin Sensitivity
        Mutual Grooming and Neurophysiological Response

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Michel-Antoine Leblanc is a psychologist and associate researcher at the Psychology Laboratory of the University of Angers and at the Laboratory of Comparative Ethology and Cognition of the University of Paris Ouest Nanterre La Défense.

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