Animals can acquire new behavior through both individual and social learning. Several studies have investigated horses’ ability to utilize inter-species (human demonstrator) social learning with conflicting results. In this study, we repeat a previous study, which found that horses had the ability to learn from observing humans performing an instrumental task, but we include a control for stimulus enhancement. One human demonstrator and thirty horses were included, and the horses were randomly assigned to one of three treatments: (A) full human demonstration, (B) partial human demonstration, and (C) no human demonstration. The task was for the horses to touch an object situated 1 m away from a feed box, to open this feed box, and thereby obtain a food reward. The success of each horse, the behavior directed towards the apparatus and the human, and behaviors indicative of frustration were observed. The results showed that horses observing a full and partial human demonstration were not more successful in solving the instrumental task than horses not observing any demonstration. Horses that did not solve the task expressed more box- and human-oriented behavior compared to successful horses, which may be an indication of motivation to solve the task and/or frustration from being unable to solve the task.
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