Wednesday, October 2, 2013

Do Icelandics Have More SEEK Than Other Breeds?

Blessi and Dannelle Haugen winning the grand
championship in the Kitsap Saddle Club Extreme
Trail Competition
In the post "Activating SEEK and turning off FEAR in Horses," we talked about  Dr. Panksepp, a neuroscientist, who discovered that localized electrode stimulation of the brain caused  the same well-organized behavior for certain core emotions, which he calls “blue ribbon emotions.”  These emotions are rage, fear, panic, seek, lust, care, and play. (pp. 7-8)  Seeking is defined as “the positive emotions of wanting, looking forward to, or being curious about something…..SEEKING feels good” (Grandin, 2009, p. 7)

And in the post "Shaped By the Land of Fire and Ice," we speculated that that the Icelandic horses who were more likely to survive the extremes of the Icelandic environment were more likely to think rather than react.  “Horses learned that standing motionless, while the worst of the storm passed, made them burn fewer calories and protected them” (Bjőrnsson & Sveinsson, 2006, p. 38).

So my theory is that Icelandic horses as shaped by their traditional environment have a higher SEEK factor than most other breeds.  In many open trail obstacle courses, you will often find the Icelandic horses dominating the field.  What do you think?

Grandin, T. (2009). Animals Make Us Human, First Mariner Book, NY.
Bjőrnsson, G., & Sveinsson, H.  (2006).  The Icelandic Horse, Edda Publishing, Reykjavik, Iceland.

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