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Associate Professor Elke Hartmann

Elke Hartmann
I am both professionally and personally committed to Equitation Science (ES) and have established my own unique niche as a scientist focusing on equine (social) behaviour, management, training and welfare as well as the assessment of horse-human relationships.


Already during my PhD education (2007-2010), research projects were tailored to Equitation Science (ES) by studying the management of horses kept in groups and consequences for horse welfare and human safety. As a postdoctoral student I continued studying practical aspects of horse management and training with focus on horses’ shelter use, and the effects of blanketing and clipping on horses’ recovery rate after exercise. Following on this postdoctoral period, I proceeded as a researcher with more applied research in ES by investigating the usefulness of dominance and leadership concepts at the human-horse interface (2016-2018).

My current research (from 2020) focuses on:

  • Horses’ emotional responses in anticipation of human interventions (e.g., being saddled or groomed)
  • Rein tension and its correlation with driveability, behavioural and physiological responses of Standardbred trotters during training and competition
  • Bringing science to the stable - an educational intervention at Swedish riding schools 

All of my projects have addressed important aspects within ES that regard for the nature of horses (i.e., ethology and behavioural needs), their learning abilities and emotional states, and the quality of horse-human relationships cornerstones for providing an ethical and sustainable approach to horse management and training. 


I am lecturing for undergraduate and postgraduate students at SLU and abroad and supervise various degree projects. The focus of my teaching is on basic and applied ethology, horse behaviour, horses’ cognitive abilities and learning theory as it relates to handling and training, housing and general management, welfare assessment and evaluation of human-horse interactions. 


My current and previous research is largely related to the external funding I have secured over the years: 

  • The bit(less) debate and how to facilitate human behaviour change to improve horse welfare (main applicant, Formas, 2024-2026)
  • Toilet training: an innovative approach towards increased welfare and sustainability of dairy farming (co-applicant, Formas, 2024-2025)
  • Harness racing through the lens of science: behavioural and management attributes that characterise driveability, optimal performance and positive horse welfare (main applicant, Swedish-Norwegian Equine Research Foundation, 2022-2025)
  • Improving riding schools’ knowledge base to enhance horse welfare and
    human-horse communication (main applicant, Swedish Norwegian Foundation for Equine Research, 2022-2023)
  • Looking forward to human interactions? Horses’ anticipatory behaviour as an indication of emotional states (main applicant, Formas, 2020-2022)
  • Dominance and leadership: useful concepts in human-horse interactions? (main applicant, Formas, 2016-2019)
  • Measuring rein tension in Standardbred trotters: are we driving with a faulty a brake? (main applicant, Swedish Norwegian Foundation for Equine Research, 2020-2022)
  • Welfare challenges emerging from managing horses extensively: a pilot study of the Swedish Gotland pony (co-applicant, Marie-Claire Cronstedts Stiftelse, 2020)
  • Impact of Nordic climate and management practices on thermoregulation in the horse (co-applicant, Swedish Norwegian Foundation for Equine Research)

Selected publications

  • Eisersiö, M., Yngvesson, J., Hartmann, E., & Egenvall, A. 2023. Gaping for relief? Rein tension at onset and end of oral behaviors and head movements in unridden horses. J Vet Behav. 59, 8-14.
  • Egenvall, A., Byström, A., Pökelmann, M., Connysson, M., Kienapfel-Henseleit, K., Karlsteen, M., Hartmann, E. 2022. Rein tension in harness trotters during on-track exercise. Frontiers in Vet Sci, 9.
  • Hartmann, E., Byström, A., Pökelmann, M., Connysson, M., Kienapfel-Henseleit, K., Karlsteen, M., Egenvall, A. 2022. Associations between driving rein tensions and drivers’ reports of the behaviour and driveability of Standardbred trotters. Appl Anim Behav Sci, 254, 105726.
  • Hartmann, E., Rehn, T., Christensen, J.W., Nielsen, P.P., McGreevy, P. 2021. From the Horse’s Perspective: Investigating Attachment Behaviour and the Effect of Training Method on Fear Reactions and Ease of Handling - A Pilot Study. Animals 11(2), 457.
  • Lundberg, P., Hartmann, E., Roth, L.S.V., 2020. Does training style affect the human-horse relationship? Asking the horse in a separation–reunion experiment with the owner and a stranger. Appl Anim Behav Sci 233 (2020) 105144.
  • Trindade, P.H.E., Hartmann, E., Keeling, L.J., Haubro Andersen, P., Ferraz, G.C., da Costa, M.J., 2020. Effect of work on body language of ranch horses in Brazil. PLoS ONE 15(1): e0228130.
  • Hartmann, E., Christensen, W.J., McGreevy P.D., 2017. Dominance and leadership: useful concepts in human-horse interactions? J Equine Vet Sci 52, 1-9.
  • Hartmann, E., Bøe, K. E., Jørgensen, G. H.M., Mejdell, C.M., Dahlborn, K., 2017. Management of horses with focus on blanketing and clipping practices reported by members of the Swedish and Norwegian equestrian community. J Anim Sci 95, 1104-1117.
  • Hartmann, E., Søndergaard, E., Keeling, L.J., 2012. Keeping horses in groups: a review. Appl Anim Behav Sci 136, 77-87.