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Abstract

Riding and training horses is the basis of a multi-billion dollar industry, but their use in the developed world is predominantly for recreational, competitive, entertainment, or performance purposes. However, when we consider the poor welfare outcomes for the horses involved, our ultimate focus on fun seems a poor justification for using horses in this way. This article is not intended to diminish the use of horses in the ridden context, rather it foreshadows a time when horse welfare and equestrian competition are as balanced and sustainable as possible.

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... The social licence to ride and to compete horses is coming under increasing focus [1][2][3][4][5]. The Ridden Horse Pain Ethogram (RHpE) was developed to facilitate the differentiation between horses with and without musculoskeletal discomfort [6]. ...
... For the H-R Challenge, horses performed outside on similar arena surfaces at both Hickstead, Sussex, UK and Rotterdam, The Netherlands. Invited participants at Hickstead represented Great Britain (17), Ireland (2) and Australia (1), whereas participants in Rotterdam represented The Netherlands (13), Belgium (3), Denmark (1) and Finland (1). All horses competing at the BD Championship, Hartpury University, Gloucestershire had qualified via preliminary competitions, according to the British Dressage Guidelines (Supplementary Materials S1) [12]. ...
... For the H-R Challenge, horses performed outside on similar arena surfaces at both Hickstead, Sussex, UK and Rotterdam, The Netherlands. Invited participants at Hickstead represented Great Britain (17), Ireland (2) and Australia (1), whereas participants in Rotterdam represented The Netherlands (13), Belgium (3), Denmark (1) and Finland (1). All horses competing at the BD Championship, Hartpury University, Gloucestershire had qualified via preliminary competitions, according to the British Dressage Guidelines (Supplementary Materials S1) [12]. ...
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The Ridden Horse Pain Ethogram (RHpE) comprising 24 behaviours was developed to facilitate the identification of musculoskeletal discomfort, with scores of ≥8/24 indicating the presence of pain. The median RHpE score for 147 competitors at World Cup Grand Prix events from 2018 to 2020 was three (interquartile range [IQR] 1–4; range 0–7). The aim of the current study was to apply the RHpE to 38 competitors at the Hickstead-Rotterdam Grand Prix Challenge and 26 competitors at the British Dressage Grand Prix National Championship in 2020. The median RHpE scores were four (IQR 3–6; range 0–8) and six (IQR 4–7; range 1–9), respectively, which were both higher (p = 0.0011 and p = 0.0000) than the World Cup competitors’ scores. Ears back ≥ 5 s (p = 0.005), intense stare ≥ 5 s (p = 0.000), repeated tail swishing (p = 0.000), hindlimb toe drag (p = 0.000), repeated tongue-out (p = 0.003) and crooked tail-carriage (p = 0.000) occurred more frequently. These were associated with a higher frequency of lameness, abnormalities of canter, and errors in rein-back, passage and piaffe, canter flying-changes and canter pirouettes compared with World Cup competitors. There was a moderate negative correlation between the dressage judges’ scores and the RHpE scores (Spearman’s rho −0.66, p = 0.0002) at the British Championship. Performance and welfare may be improved by recognition and appropriate treatment of underlying problems.
... The horse industry is considered economically important (Jones and McGreevy, 2010), and this influences ethical decisions (Blea, 2012). The annual number of racing trotters in Europe is 60 000 of which 6000 horses race in Finland (Union Européenne du Trot, 2019). ...
... Accepting the 'as free as possible' approach allows provision of the best welfare possible in circumstances where the ideal is unobtainable (Campbell, 2016). Owners, trainers, and riders are considered to have a crucial role in horse welfare (Jones and McGreevy, 2010;Viksten, 2016) since most horse use takes place on horse farms and is not visible to the public eye (Jones and McGreevy, 2010). ...
... Accepting the 'as free as possible' approach allows provision of the best welfare possible in circumstances where the ideal is unobtainable (Campbell, 2016). Owners, trainers, and riders are considered to have a crucial role in horse welfare (Jones and McGreevy, 2010;Viksten, 2016) since most horse use takes place on horse farms and is not visible to the public eye (Jones and McGreevy, 2010). ...
Thesis
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Bit-related oral lesions are a common and painful welfare issue in horses. Even though horses have been ridden and driven with a bit and bridle for 6000 years and bit sores have been described already in the 19th century in the veterinary literature, scientific reports on bit-related lesions and their risk factors in horses remain scarce. The aim of this thesis was to (i) determine the occurrence of oral lesions in the bit area in Finnish trotters and event horses after competitions, (ii) create a scoring system for oral lesions in the bit area and demonstrate different lesion types and locations with photographs, (iii) investigate risk factors for bit-related lesions in trotters and event horses, (iv) further investigate different stakeholders’ attitudes towards bit-related lesions in trotters. The rostral part of the mouth of 469 horses (261 trotters, 208 event horses) was examined systematically after a competition. Trotters were examined in 10 racing events in 2017 and event horses in 8 competition events in 2018–2019. Many horses had multiple lesions, and therefore, a lesion scoring system was created in which points were given to each lesion depending on its size, type (bruise or wound), and depth (superficial or deep). Points for each lesion were summed such that each horse received a total lesion score that reflected the overall lesion status. No acute lesions were found in 42 trotters (16%), and lesion status was mild in 55 trotters (21%), moderate in 113 trotters (43%), and severe in 51 trotters (20%). In event horses, no lesions were found in 99 horses (48%), and lesion status was mild in 45 (22%), moderate in 55 (26%), and severe in 9 horses (4%). The most common lesion location was the inner lip commissure. Lesions were also found in the bars of the mandible in front of the first lower cheek tooth, in the buccal area near the first upper cheek tooth, and in the outer lip commissures. Only a few horses had mild lesions involving the tongue and one horse in the hard palate. Although 109 event horses and 219 trotters had oral lesions in the bit area, none of the event horses and only six trotters showed external mouth bleeding. Additionally, one event horse and 26 trotters had blood inside the mouth or on the bit when it was removed from the mouth. Associations between a horse’s moderate-severe oral lesion status and potential risk factors were analyzed with multivariable logistic regression analysis. The association between bit type and lesion location was examined with Fisher’s exact test. Risk factors for moderate-severe oral lesion status in trotters were the use of a Crescendo bit, a mullen mouth regulator bit, or an unjointed plastic bit (model Happy Mouth) and female sex (mare). In event horses, the risk factors were thin (10–13 mm) and thick (18–22 mm) bits, female sex (mare), and other than pony breed. In both disciplines, unjointed bits were associated with lesions in the bars of the mandible. Single-jointed snaffle bits were the most common bit type in trotters and the least associated with moderate-severe lesions. In event horses, double-jointed 14–17 mm bits were most common. Bit thickness of 14–17 mm was the least associated with moderate-severe lesion status. However, these results may at least partly reflect driveability or rideability issues, and thus, rein tension differences because drivers/riders may change to distinctive bit designs if they have difficulty eliciting an appropriate response with rein cues. In the pilot questionnaire study, imaginary scenarios and photographs of lesions from horses’ mouths were presented to different stakeholders (veterinarians and race veterinary assistants, trainers, and others). They were asked in multiple choice questionnaires whether they allow the horse to start in the race, stipulate a health certificate before the next race, or remove the horse from the race. The association between stakeholder groups and their answers was examined with the Pearson Chi-square test. The results of this study indicated differences in attitudes towards bit-related lesions between stakeholder groups but also within a stakeholder group. This might reflect differences in conflicts of interests, moral values, empathy, or over-exposure to oral lesions. Not removing horses with severe oral lesions from the race may compromise horse welfare and society’s trust in the surveillance system. In this study, oral lesions in the bit area were common after a competition, although only few horses showed external bleeding. Oral examination and an oral lesion scoring system with an assistant recording the findings were suitable for field conditions and horses seemed to tolerate the examination well. Even though changing the bit to the bits least associated with lesions may be beneficial, horses with oral lesions might benefit from training modifications. Given the higher risk observed for mares in this study, mare oral health warrants special attention. Results of this thesis encourage adopting bit area monitoring as a new routine by horse handlers and as a welfare measure by competition organizers in order to minimize pain and negative experiences by early diagnosis and treatment of mouth lesions.
... In this paper we use the word 'participant' loosely in relation to animals, given that to participate implies a choice, and horses are not provided with an option as to whether to train and race. As a result of their research, Jones and McGreevy (2010) claim that it is arguable whether horses are willing to be trained and raced and many would choose not to participate 'thus raising questions about whether they should be used in non-working contexts at all ' (197). ...
... Public attitudes to animal welfare As this paper has indicated already, changing public opinion has been an influential factor in bringing about some change in the welfare of thoroughbreds and academics also are calling for more research with respect to the use of animals in the tourism and leisure industries (Atkinson and Young 2005;Carr 2009;Fennell 2013;Jones and McGreevy 2010). Bagaric and Akers (2012) list several reasons that may explain the persistence of negative animal welfare issues in society that can be applied to racing, some of which include market and commercial imperatives, lack of resources to identify and prosecute abuse, cultural practice, insufficient awareness of the plight of animals, as well as complex, socially embedded philosophical positions. ...
Article
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Thoroughbred racing is promoted as the ‘Sport of Kings’ and thousands of racegoers emulate a wealthy leisured elite at the track and through gambling and horse ownership, seek large financial profits. One of the norms of this racing culture involves a particular clothing style of high fashion which helps to promote racing as glamorous and exciting. In recent years racing has been subjected to a number of shocks resulting from high-profile media work by activist groups concerning horrific horse injuries and deaths at the track, plus claims of widespread cruelty, ‘wastage’ and whipping. This paper juxtaposes these two racing worlds. It illuminates the position of the animals upon which the industry so heavily depends and argues that in an age of increasing concern for animal welfare, racegoers and the community ought to know how their entertainment was produced. The paper results from a collaboration between academic endeavour and animal activist work.
... Equitation embraces a cost-benefit approach to ethics. The greater the impact to horses of a practice, the stronger the justification for that practice needs to be [4]. Ideally, all impacts could be considered moderate or less [4,5]. ...
... The greater the impact to horses of a practice, the stronger the justification for that practice needs to be [4]. Ideally, all impacts could be considered moderate or less [4,5]. It also offers guidelines about what may be considered ethical. ...
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Simple Equitation science describes an approach to horse training and riding that focuses on embracing the cognitive abilities of horses, their natural behaviour, and how human riders can use signalling and rewards to best effect. This approach is concerned with both horse welfare and rider safety, and this review discusses how equitation science can minimise risk to humans around horses and enhance horse welfare. Equitation science is an evidence-based approach to horse training and riding that focuses on a thorough understanding of both equine ethology and learning theory. This combination leads to more effective horse training, but also plays a role in keeping horse riders and trainers safe around horses. Equitation science underpins ethical equitation, and recognises the limits of the horse’s cognitive and physical abilities. Equitation is an ancient practice that has benefited from a rich tradition that sees it flourishing in contemporary sporting pursuits. Despite its history, horse-riding is an activity for which neither horses nor humans evolved, and it brings with it significant risks to the safety of both species. This review outlines the reasons horses may behave in ways that endanger humans and how training choices can exacerbate this. It then discusses the recently introduced 10 Principles of Equitation Science and explains how following these principles can minimise horse-related risk to humans and enhance horse welfare.
... The use of whips in horse racing is increasingly being questioned on ethical, welfare [1][2][3][4][5][6][7][8][9][10][11], social sustainability [10], and legal grounds [8]. Racing industry proponents argue that "the whip is used for safety (of both rider and horse) or to encourage the horse to perform to its best when in contention", and that horses in many jurisdictions are protected from pain by whip padding and rules that govern whip use [12]. ...
... The concept of ethical equitation [1] advocates a three-step process for stakeholders who seek to retain the social license to operate [13]. It demands that we identify the causes of distress in the horses we ride, that we mitigate these stressors as much as possible and we justify the retention of those that cannot be mitigated. ...
Article
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The current project aims to build on knowledge of the nociceptive capability of equine skin to detect superficial acute pain, particularly in comparison to human skin. Post-mortem samples of gluteal skin were taken from men (n = 5) and women (n = 5), thoroughbreds and thoroughbred types (mares, n = 11; geldings, n = 9). Only sections that contained epidermis and dermis through to the hypodermis were analysed. Epidermal depth, dermal depth and epidermal nerve counts were conducted by a veterinary pathologist. The results revealed no significant difference between the epidermal nerve counts of humans and horses (t = 0.051, p = 0.960). There were no significant differences between epidermal thickness of humans (26.8 µm) and horses (31.6 µm) for reference (left side) samples (t = 0.117, p = 0.908). The human dermis was significantly thinner than the horse dermis (t = −2.946, p = 0.007). Epidermal samples were thicker on the right than on the left, but only significantly so for horses (t = 2.291, p = 0.023), not for humans (t = 0.694, p = 0.489). The thicker collagenous dermis of horse skin may afford some resilience versus external mechanical trauma, though as this is below the pain-detecting nerve endings, it is not considered protective from external 2 of 15 cutaneous pain. The superficial pain-sensitive epidermal layer of horse skin is as richly innervated and is of equivalent thickness as human skin, demonstrating that humans and horses have the equivalent basic anatomic structures to detect cutaneous pain. This finding challenges assumptions about the physical capacity of horses to feel pain particularly in comparison to humans, and presents physical evidence to inform the discussion and debate regarding the ethics of whipping horses.
... This model has been adapted to provide a practical means of assessing negative or adverse welfare impacts on animals in several different areas, most notably to assess the impact of vertebrate pest control methods [24,29]. Jones and McGreevy first proposed the method as a means of evaluating the welfare impact of interventions on horses [30], and operational details of the model's use have been published recently [31]. ...
... The panel approach provides a way for individuals with different experiences regarding each intervention This model has been adapted to provide a practical means of assessing negative or adverse welfare impacts on animals in several different areas, most notably to assess the impact of vertebrate pest control methods [24,29]. Jones and McGreevy first proposed the method as a means of evaluating the welfare impact of interventions on horses [30], and operational details of the model's use have been published recently [31]. ...
Article
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Simple Summary Using an adaptation of the domain-based welfare assessment model, a panel of horse welfare professionals (with professional expertise in psychology, equitation science, veterinary science, education, welfare, equestrian coaching, advocacy, and community engagement) assessed the perceived harms, if any, resulting from 116 interventions that are commonly applied to horses. Scores for Domain 5 (the integrated mental impact) gathered after extensive discussion during a four-day workshop aligned well with overall impact scores assigned by the same panellists individually before the workshop, although some rankings changed after workshop participation. Domain 4 (Behaviour) had the strongest association with Domain 5, whilst Domain 1 (Nutrition) had the weakest association with Domain 5, implying that the panellists considered commonly applied nutritional interventions to have less of a bearing on subjective mental state than commonly applied behavioural restrictions. The workshop defined each intervention, and stated assumptions around each, resulting in a set of exemplar procedures that could be used in future equine welfare assessments. Abstract The aim of this study was to conduct a series of paper-based exercises in order to assess the negative (adverse) welfare impacts, if any, of common interventions on domestic horses across a broad range of different contexts of equine care and training. An international panel (with professional expertise in psychology, equitation science, veterinary science, education, welfare, equestrian coaching, advocacy, and community engagement; n = 16) met over a four-day period to define and assess these interventions, using an adaptation of the domain-based assessment model. The interventions were considered within 14 contexts: C1 Weaning; C2 Diet; C3 Housing; C4 Foundation training; C5 Ill-health and veterinary interventions (chiefly medical); C6 Ill-health and veterinary interventions (chiefly surgical); C7 Elective procedures; C8 Care procedures; C9 Restraint for management procedures; C10 Road transport; C11 Activity—competition; C12 Activity—work; C13 Activity—breeding females; and C14 Activity—breeding males. Scores on a 1–10 scale for Domain 5 (the mental domain) gathered during the workshop were compared with overall impact scores on a 1–10 scale assigned by the same panellists individually before the workshop. The most severe (median and interquartile range, IQR) impacts within each context were identified during the workshop as: C1 abrupt, individual weaning (10 IQR 1); C2 feeding 100% low-energy concentrate (8 IQR 2.5); C3 indoor tie stalls with no social contact (9 IQR 1.5); C4 both (i) dropping horse with ropes (9 IQR 0.5) and forced flexion (9 IQR 0.5); C5 long-term curative medical treatments (8 IQR 3); C6 major deep intracavity surgery (8.5 IQR 1); C7 castration without veterinary supervision (10 IQR 1); C8 both (i) tongue ties (8 IQR 2.5) and (ii) restrictive nosebands (8 IQR 2.5); C9 ear twitch (8 IQR 1); C10 both (i) individual transport (7.00 IQR 1.5) and group transport with unfamiliar companions (7 IQR 1.5); C11 both (i) jumps racing (8 IQR 2.5) and Western performance (8 IQR 1.5); C12 carriage and haulage work (6 IQR 1.5); C13 wet nurse during transition between foals (7.5 IQR 3.75); and C14 teaser horse (7 IQR 8). Associations between pre-workshop and workshop scores were high, but some rankings changed after workshop participation, particularly relating to breeding practices. Domain 1 had the weakest association with Domain 5. The current article discusses the use of the domain-based model in equine welfare assessment, and offers a series of assumptions within each context that future users of the same approach may make when assessing animal welfare under the categories reported here. It also discusses some limitations in the framework that was used to apply the model.
... Given the reliance equitation places on negative, rather than positive, reinforcement and the need for aversive stimuli, there is increasing interest in the concept of ethical equitation that calls for stress in the ridden horse to be minimised and justified (Jones and McGreevy, 2010;McGreevy, 2010a, 2010b). Even practices carried out with the most honourable of intentions can be based on aversive stimuli but the onus is on the practitioner to use the minimum levels that are effective and, in any ethical training programme, to replace aversive cues with neutral cues where possible. ...
... If given a choice, most horses would opt to do less work and, strictly speaking, being ridden is stressful for the horse, so where does one draw the line? For the concept of ethical equitation (Jones and McGreevy, 2010) to be of value, the compromise to welfare that remains after stress has been mitigated must be justified. It is possible that denying horses normal behaviours (such as yawning, chewing and licking when nosebands are tight) may be justifiable for human safety reasons. ...
... Hästens och människans historia har varit sammanvävd under tusentals år (Endenburg, 1999, Jones & McGreevy, 2010, men trots att vi under alla dessa år har selekterat för de hästar som bäst anpassar sig till samvaron med människor, så är den domesticerade hästen inte alls olik sina vilda förfäder (Henderson, 2007). Ferala hästar lever i stabila grupper och rör sig över stora ytor i sin strävan efter föda, ofta upp till 20 timmar om dygnet (Keiper, 1986in Henderson, 2007. ...
... Detta eftersom självvärdering i enkätfrågor är svårbedömt, något jag också sett i min egen studie. Flertalet artiklar som kritiserar dagens hästhållnining, hantering och träning (Hanggi, 2005;McGreevy 2007;Fraser, 2008;Jones & McGreevy, 2010;McLean & McGreevy, 2010) utgår från de myter och "sanningar" som florerar inom bl.a. rid-, galopp-och körsport idag, men innefattar inte någon egen studie. ...
... Whip use under various racing codes and the rules that surround it have recently been subject to considerable scrutiny on ethical, welfare [1][2][3][4][5][6][7][8][9][10][11], social sustainability [10], and legal grounds PLOS ONE | https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0184091 March 7, 2018 1 / 9 a1111111111 a1111111111 a1111111111 a1111111111 a1111111111 [8]. ...
Article
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The use of whips in racing is subject to current debate, not least because the prospect that fatigued horses cannot respond renders the practice futile and inhumane. The racing industries maintain whip use is a form of encouragement and that the rules of racing that govern whip use safeguard horse welfare. The current study examined longitudinal trends in the frequency of medium and fast race winning times in Australian harness racing between September 2007 and August 2016 to explore relationships with a series of changes that moderated whip use. The first change, introduced January 2010, moderated whip action so that horses were struck with less force. Subsequent amendments reversed this change for the final 200m of the race except in one racing jurisdiction. However, those amendments were eventually reversed, restoring the first rule change in all geographic locations. Despite whip use being regulated from January 2010, a long-term trend of increased frequency of both fast and medium winning times over 1609m (~1 mile) was noted. Even after adjusting for this trend, all whip handling codes were associated with greater odds of winning times being less than 1:55 minutes compared with the pre-2010 period. A similar finding for times less than 2:00 minutes did not reach statistical significance. Additionally, the periods immediately before and after introducing the most stringent regulations were compared. This revealed that, when introduced in 2010, these regulations were associated with faster winning times. Their re-introduction in 2016, was associated with no significant differences. Despite concerns that tightening of whip regulations might reduce performance, none of our analyses revealed any significant reduction in either fast or medium winning times in races following the tightening of regulations governing the use of the whip. These findings question the putative need for whips to improve racing performance.
... This is a utilitarian framework that requires us to weigh-up costs (in terms of welfare) against benefits (typically the benefit of advancing scientific knowledge, usually to humans). Similar approaches have been advocated for the ethical use of horses in equitation [49] and racing [50]. ...
Article
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Ethically challenging situations are common in veterinary practice, and they may be a source of moral stress, which may in turn impact the welfare of veterinarians. Despite recognition of the importance of ethical reasoning, some veterinary students may struggle to apply theoretical ethical frameworks. Fraser developed a “practical” ethic consisting of four principles that can be applied to ethically challenging situations. We apply Fraser’s “practical” ethic to three cases that veterinarians may encounter: animal hoarding, animal neglect, and treatment of wildlife. We argue that Fraser’s “practical” ethic is consistent with a One Welfare framework, and may have increasing currency for veterinarians in the light of the World Animal Health Organisation’s Global Animal Welfare Strategy. Both Fraser’s “practical” ethic and a One Welfare framework require veterinarians to consider the impacts of animal ethics decisions on a broader scale than most other ethical frameworks have prepared them for. We discuss the strengths and limitations of Fraser’s “practical” ethic when applied in veterinary contexts and recommend additional support and training to enable veterinarians to effectively apply these frameworks in real-world settings.
... The prototype questionnaire does not meet recently developed standards for questionnaire-based research ( Hall et al. 2013;Muir 2013;Reid et al. 2013). A future questionnaire could be based on the Five Domains Model (Mellor and Stafford 2001;Jones and McGreevy 2010;Mellor and Beausoleil 2015;Mellor 2017). Future questionnaires might also include input from the work of Mullard et al. (2017) and Dyson et al. (2017) who have developed a ridden horse ethogram based on facial expression. ...
Article
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Horses can be ridden with or without a bit. Comparing the behaviour of the same horse in different modes constituted a ‘natural experiment’. Sixty‐nine behaviours in 66 bitted horses were identified as induced by bit‐related pain and recognised as forms of stereotypic behaviour. A prototype questionnaire for the ridden horse was based on 6 years of feedback from riders who had switched from a bitted to a bit‐free bridle. From a template of 69 behavioural signs of pain derived from answers to the questionnaire, the number of pain signals shown by each horse, first when bitted and then bit‐free, was counted and compared. After mostly multiple years of bit usage, the time horses had been bit‐free ranged from 1 to 1095 days (median 35). The number of pain signals exhibited by each horse when bitted ranged from 5 to 51 (median 23); when bit‐free from 0 to 16 (median 2). The number of pain signals for the total population when bitted was 1575 and bit‐free 208; an 87% reduction. Percentage reduction of each of 69 pain signals when bit‐free, ranged from 43 to 100 (median 87). The term ‘bit lameness’ was proposed to describe a syndrome of lameness caused by the bit. Bit pain had a negative effect on proprioception, i.e. balance, posture, coordination and movement. Only one horse showed no reduction in pain signals when bit‐free. The welfare of 65 of 66 horses was enhanced by removing the bit; reducing negative emotions (pain) and increasing the potential to experience positive emotions (pleasure). Grading welfare on the Five Domains Model, it was judged that – when bitted – the population exhibited ‘marked to severe welfare compromise and no enhancement’ and – when bit‐free – ‘low welfare compromise and mid‐level enhancement.’ The bit‐free data were consistent with the ‘one‐welfare’ criteria of minimising risk and preventing avoidable suffering.
... Given the ease with which trainers can chase the horse, even inadvertently, in the round-pen and on the lunge-line, to justify the potential risks of injury and compromise of horse welfare associated with chasing, the intended aim of the activities needs to be clearly defined and assessed against the principles of learning theory (McGreevy and McLean, 2007) and ethical equitation (Jones & McGreevy, 2010). One of the major welfare risks associated with chasing in the round-pen, on the lunge, or during high-speed liberty training may reflect the absence of consensus on how to identify optimal arousal thresholds. ...
Article
Round-pen, lunging, and liberty training has grown in popularity in recent years in a number of equestrian contexts, due in part to the popularity of contemporary training methods and colt-starting competitions. When well applied, the round-pen can become a classroom, but when poorly applied and without an understanding of learning theory, training in the round-pen or on a lunge-line can pose significant risks to both horse welfare and handler safety. The most serious problems arise when exceeding optimal and safe thresholds of arousal in the horse, which can be detrimental to both human safety and horse welfare in at least 2 ways. First, through the appearance of conflict (e.g., behaviors indicating that the horse is not managing stress-inducing circumstances well) and defensive behaviors that are often associated with a flight response. Second, there is a risk of increased resistance to extinction of flight behavior and the subsequent spontaneous recovery of high levels of arousal and dangerous behaviors. Thus, if the arousal levels are very high, learning and performance are repressed. When arousal levels are insufficient to engage the horse (i.e., acquire and maintain its attention), learning and performance may also be inhibited. Thus, there is an optimal threshold level of arousal where learning can be optimized, and such thresholds are likely unique for individual horses. The precise range of these arousal thresholds is yet to be identified. It therefore follows that in the absence of this information, trainers should adopt a precautionary conservative principle and avoid high arousal levels. Doing so, coupled with optimal application of knowledge of learning theory, can make the round-pen or lunge-line as a safe and useful addition to the horse's training. To minimize the risks associated with training in the round-pen and working horses on a lunge-line, training goals, lesson plans, and training methodologies must apply scientific knowledge on equine ethology, cognition, and learning. Given recent increases in scientific interest in round-pen training, now is an appropriate time to discuss good practice in the context of lunging, round-pens, and other training techniques that may involve the chasing of horses. This review examines current usage, potential risks to horse welfare, and how to ensure training using these methods fosters positive learning outcome and promotes horse welfare.
... Ethical equitation demands that individuals cap the price horses pay for human glory [1,2]. Questions surround the ethics of any sport based on using animals, and particularly one that modifies an animal's behaviour or pushes it to its physical limits via practices that cause the animal pain. ...
Article
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Recent studies have cast doubt on the effectiveness of whipping horses during races and this has led to questions concerning its continuing justification. Furthermore, it has been argued that whipping tired horses in racing is the most televised form of violence to animals. The present study used de-identified data from a recent independent Australian poll (n = 1,533) to characterise the 26% of respondents (113 females and 271 males) who support the whipping of racehorses and the 10% of racing enthusiasts in the sample (44 females and 63 males) who would stop watching races and betting on them if whipping were banned. Logistic regression models examining associations between age, gender, and income level of respondents demonstrated that those who support racehorse whipping are significantly more likely to be male. Among racing enthusiasts who would stop watching races and betting on them if whipping were banned, those in the lowest income bracket were over-represented. The more frequently respondents attended races or gambled on them, the more likely they were to agree that horses should be hit with a whip during the normal course of a race. These findings align with previous studies of violence among men and women but may also be attributed to male support of traditional gambling practices. Globally, racing organisations may consider the findings of the present study helpful in their deliberations on the merits of continuing the practice of whipping tired horses in the name of sport.
... First, the review was undertaken by the BHA, an organisation that exists to promote, as well as regulate, the racing industry [20]. As the use of horses within the industry often conflicts with horse welfare [21], this gives rise to the risk of a conflict of interest, or at least of the perception of such a conflict, for the BHA in carrying out the review. The tenor of some of its conclusions suggests that this conflict affected the process and outcomes of the Report. ...
Article
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Simple Summary This is a critique of the British Horseracing Authority’s 2011 report, A Review of the Use of the Whip in Horseracing. It analyses the way the report uses science and public opinion research to reach conclusions on the animal welfare impact of whip use. Our analysis suggests that some of the report’s findings are insufficiently defended by the report and that further independent scientific review is needed to reach definitive conclusions about whip use on racehorse welfare. Abstract There is increasing controversy about the use of the whip as a performance aid in Thoroughbred horseracing and its impact on horse welfare. This paper offers a critical analysis of the British Horseracing Authority’s (BHA) 2011 Report Responsible Regulation: A Review of the Use of the Whip in Horseracing. It examines the BHA’s process of consultation and use of science and public opinion research through the application of current scientific literature and legal analysis. This analysis suggests that the BHA’s findings on the welfare impact and justification for whip use are insufficiently defended by the report. These findings indicate that the report is an inadequate basis from which to draw any definitive conclusions on the impact of whips on racehorse welfare. Further review is needed, undertaken by an independent scientific body, to advance this debate.
... As such, the occurrence, in horse-human contexts, of responses that appear to mimic elements of equine social interactionsmay depend on denying horses regular social contact with other horses, such as occurs when horses are socially isolated in stables. Horses are regularly isolated for human convenience, despite the price horses pay (Jones and McGreevy, 2010). It happens that as long ago as 350BC, horsemen were advocating social isolation and food and water deprivation as a means of increasing the appeal to horses of carers who alleviated their distress under such conditions (Boot and McGreevy, 2013). ...
Article
This article reviews evidence for the existence of attachment bonds directed toward humans in dog-human and horse-human dyads. It explores each species' alignment with the four features of a typical attachment bond: separation-related distress, safe haven, secure base and proximity seeking. While dog-human dyads show evidence of each of these, there is limited alignment for horse-human dyads. These differences are discussed in the light of the different selection paths of domestic dogs and horses as well as the different contexts in which the two species interact with humans. The role of emotional intelligence in humans as a potential mediator for human-animal relationships, attachment or otherwise, is also examined. Finally, future studies, which may clarify the interplay between attachment, human-animal relationships and emotional intelligence, are proposed. Such avenues of research may help us explore the concepts of trust and bonding that are often said to occur at the dog-human and horse-human interface.
... Proponents of ethical equitation, who emphasize the use of ethically sound practices for training and handling horses based on moral reasoning and scientific research (McLean & McGreevy, 2010), have brought forth concerns over common training practices presently observed at horse shows and competitions (Jones & McGreevy, 2010;McLean & McGreevy, 2010). These concerns include such practices as hyperflexion in dressage horses, use of whips and bats in speed events, use of horses' fear responses to elicit desired behaviors, use of primitive control devices, excessive tightening of nose bands, drugging, and relentless bit pressure. ...
Article
The purpose of this study was to gain a better understanding of the current state of stock-type show horse welfare based on the perceptions of show officials and to identify potential means of preventing and intervening in compromises to show horse welfare. Thirteen horse show officials, including judges, stewards, and show managers, were interviewed. Findings revealed the officials had an incomplete understanding of nonhuman animal welfare and a high level of concern regarding the public's perception of show horse welfare. The officials attributed most of the frequently observed compromises to show horse welfare to (a) novices', amateurs', and young trainers' lack of experience or expertise, and (b) trainers' and owners' unrealistic expectations and prioritization of winning over horse welfare. The officials emphasized a need for distribution of responsibility among associations, officials, and individuals within the industry. Although the officials noted recent observable positive changes in the industry, they emphasized the need for continued improvements in equine welfare and greater educational opportunities for stakeholders.
... It is unlikely that causes of stress responses in the ridden horse can be completely eliminated from equine training procedures, but the concept of ethical equitation demands that recognised stressors are mitigated (Jones and McGreevy, 2010). Standard steps in training, such as mounting the horse for the first time, have been shown to result in an increase in salivary cortisol production (Schmidt et al., 2010 (Christensen et al., 2006). ...
Article
The work of veterinarians when handling horses exposes them to high risk of injury. Among equine practitioners, the incidences of work-related injuries and work days lost due to injury are high. Equine veterinary practitioners’ knowledge of learning theory and equitation science is minimal. Increasingly veterinarians are expected to provide a leadership role in animal welfare, including behaviour medicine. However, due to deficiencies in veterinary training, which traditionally focuses on physical aspects of health, veterinarians may be under equipped to deal effectively with all aspects of animal behaviour. Advancing veterinarians’ understanding of the application of learning principles for horses would improve safety, increase ease of handling and restraint during clinical procedures and increase clinical efficacy. As the risk of injury declines, so too would the risk of litigation. Through example, veterinarians are ideally placed to influence and educate equestrian personnel in best practice handling and restraint methods. Training methods that do not align with the horse’s natural learning abilities reduce the likelihood of optimal performance and increase the frequency of problem behaviours as well as jeopardising equine welfare. Detection of inappropriate training practices is an essential part of the veterinarian’s role in identifying and addressing causes of sub-optimal performance in the equine athlete. Poor performance and problem behaviours that result from the use of inappropriate training practices may contribute significantly to the current levels of wastage in the horse industry. Education of veterinarians in equitation science could play a pivotal role in reducing wastage and improving horse welfare globally.
... The use of whips in horse racing is increasingly being challenged on ethical, welfare [1][2][3][4][5][6][7][8][9][10][11], social sustainability [10], and legal grounds [8]. Industry proponents argue "acceptable use of the whip . . . ...
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Simple Summary An evidence-based analysis of whip rule breaches in horse racing is needed to address community expectations that racehorses are treated humanely. The study provides the first peer-reviewed characterisation of whip rule breaches and their regulatory outcomes in horseracing, and considers the relationship between rules affecting racing integrity and the welfare of racehorses in a major Australian racing jurisdiction. Abstract Whip use in horseracing is increasingly being questioned on ethical, animal welfare, social sustainability, and legal grounds. Despite this, there is weak evidence for whip use and its regulation by Stewards in Australia. To help address this, we characterised whip rule breaches recorded by Stewards using Stewards Reports and Race Diaries from 2013 and 2016 in New South Wales (NSW) and the Australian Capital Territory (ACT). There were more recorded breaches at Metropolitan (M) than Country (C) or Provincial (P) locations, and by riders of horses that finished first, second, or third than by riders of horses that finished in other positions. The most commonly recorded breaches were forehand whip use on more than five occasions before the 100-metre (m) mark (44%), and whip use that raises the jockey’s arm above shoulder height (24%). It is recommended that racing compliance data be analysed annually to inform the evidence-base for policy, education, and regulatory change, and ensure the welfare of racehorses and racing integrity.
... Increasingly, the welfare of horses being used in sport and entertainment is coming under scrutiny [81]. Using horses in sporting contexts demands that both the physical and psychological health of the so-called equine athlete should be monitored [23, [82][83][84][85]. This is particularly relevant in the case of dressage. ...
Article
This paper introduces the key challenges encountered when investigating the human–horse interface. With a focus in recent research on the application of learning theory in horses, it reviews the progress made in the emergent discipline of equitation science over the past decade. An appreciation of the role of learning theory in horse training is still in its infancy and is still refuted by traditionalists who believe that the horse can be trained as a willing participant that knows what is being asked of it. Despite this predictable resistance, the growing body of peer-reviewed evidence shows how equitation science reveals equestrian techniques that are difficult to justify within an ethical framework. Regardless of what some traditional critics claim, equitation science does nothing to undermine the emotional bonds that humans share with horses. On the contrary, it forces those who use horses to adopt a horse-centric approach to their training; an approach that ensures the cognitive powers of their trainees is not overestimated. The strength of this approach lies in acknowledging that training deficits are the main cause of poor performance, and that rider safety and horse welfare can be compromised by sloppy application of learning theory. The present paper describes the tools being used to study rider–horse interactions and concludes with a summary of the abiding challenges in applying learning theory to equitation.
... Studies have shown they can differentiate between shapes and sizes as well as respond to tasks that involve choices and matching. Historically, horses have been trained through primarily negative reinforcement techniques, but there is growing evidence to suggest that positive reinforcement training programs may be better suited to training horses (43)(44)(45) . Table 3 provides a list of additional resources for professionals looking at conditioning in horses. ...
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This article briefly describes different conditioning techniques used to help understand learning in farm livestock and economically important animals. A basic overview of conditioning is included along with the importance of different conditioning methods, associative and non-associative learning, and how these principles apply to chickens, horses, cows, goats, pigs, swine, and sheep. Additional information on learning theory specific for each animal is also provided. Keywords: conditioning, training, operant, classical, cattle, horses, sheep, goats, pigs
... Highlighting the increasingly commercialised nature of elite sports and the pressure that elite riders may face, Heuschmann (2011, p.18) notes that in business, 'time is money' and for equestrians, time represents risk as a horse worth six figures one weekend may be worth very little money the next should a freak accident or unexpected illness occur. In addition, many elite equestrian sports regularly engage horses in highly strenuous activities in unfamiliar, stressful environments (Jones & McGreevy, 2010), with both horse and rider arguably placed under a greater degree of mental and physical pressure than recreational or amateur equestrian dyads (van Gilder Cooke, 2012). These contextual factors may play an important role in shaping the relationships elite riders form with horses. ...
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Although a small body of research in sport psychology has begun to study media representations, the analyses of media representations and athlete identities are on the margins of sport psychology. In this article we outline why the study of media representations and athletic identities is useful for sport psychology. The purpose is accomplished by centralizing a social constructionist conception of identity to highlight why focusing on media representations expands understanding of identity and the psychological experiences, social behavioural and health consequences. These points are illustrated with examples from media research in sport psychology grounded in social constructionism (e.g., discursive psychology and cultural studies).We conclude that critical constructionist approaches focusing on media discourse/narratives, athlete identities and the psychological implications are useful because they further critical cultural sport psychology research. This ‘critical research agenda’ focuses on more nuanced examinations of the socio-cultural context of sport and athletic identities to expand possibilities for change, resistance and inclusion of multiple, fluid identities and positive health outcomes.
... There is a considerable amount of literature discussing the assessment of pain, suffering and wellbeing in both vertebrates and invertebrates (e.g. Morton & Griffiths 1985;AVMA 1987;Bateson 1991;NRC 1992;Broom & Johnson 1993;Flecknell 1994;Hubrecht & Kirkwood 2010;Morton 1998;USDA 1999;Flecknell & Waterman-Pearson 2000;Hellbrekers 2000;Sherwin 2001;Scott et al. 2003;Jordan 2005;Dawkins 2006;Jones & McGreevy 2010). Researchers are urged to consider the use of more refined procedures before using techniques that are likely to cause physical or psychological discomfort to the animal (Kreger 2000;Lloyd et al. 2008). ...
... The current opportunistic study is the first to reveal that physically detectable and radiographic lesions occur in areas of the nasal bones and mandibles likely to be subjected to pressure from restrictive nosebands. These findings are critical to the advance of ethical equitation [23] that advocates a three-step process for equestrian stakeholders who seek to retain the social license to operate [24]. It demands that we identify the causes of distress in the horses we ride, that we mitigate these stressors as much as possible, and we justify the retention of those that cannot be mitigated. ...
Article
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Restrictive nosebands are used in equestrian sports to hold the bit in place and reduce mouth-opening, a response that can attract penalties in some sports and is thought to reduce the rider's control of the horse. Sustained pressure from such tightly fitted (restrictive) nosebands denies normal behaviour and thus, causes frustration and distress that can jeopardise horse welfare. It also may push the cheek against the molar teeth, compress soft tissues including blood vessels and nerves, and possibly induce chronic changes to underlying bone. This study of mature cavalry horses (n = 144) was designed to explore relationships between visual and palpable damage to structures that underlie the nosebands of horses and any related bony changes in those horses as evidenced by radiography. Working independently of each other, two researchers inspected the horses for visual changes and palpable changes before the horses were radiographed. The radiographs were assessed by a separate pair of veterinary radiologists, again working independently of each other. Among the current population of horses, 37.5% had one or more radiographic changes to the nasal bones according to both radiologists, and 13.8% had one or more radiographic changes to the mandible. For nasal bones, the two radiologists reported bone deposition in 6.9% and 8.3% of the horses and bone thinning in 33.3% and 56.9% of the horses, respectively. By palpation, they found that 82% and 84% of the horses had palpable bone deposition of the nasal bones and 32% and 33.4% had palpable bone thinning. For the mandibles, the radiologists reported increased bone deposition in 18.8% and 32.6% of the horses but no bone thinning. By palpation, the two examiners reported 30.6% and 32.7% of the horses had palpable bone deposition and 10.4% and 11.1% had palpable bone thinning. This is the first report of lesions to the mandible at this site and this article presents the first confirmation of bony lesions at the site typically subjected to pressure from restrictive nosebands. These results suggest that radiographic bone thinning is more apparent in the nasal bones of riding horses than in the mandible and that both palpable and radiographic bone deposition are more likely in the mandible than in the nasal bones. That said, we note that the current study provides no evidence of a causal link between any piece of gear or its putative tightness and the lesions in these anatomical locations. Further studies are needed to identify risk factors for these clusters of lesions. The inadvertent deformation of bones in the horse's head for competitive advantage is difficult to justify on ethical grounds.
... However, there is often little consideration of the substantial financial and time investments required from the owner, or the moral obligation of the owner to do everything possible to prevent the animal's future welfare being jeopardised. 12 Education programmes for existing and prospective horse owners that engage with the concept of ethical equitation practices and that promote positive equine welfare are, therefore, essential as the wider public question the social license that underpins the use of horses for leisure and sport. 13 Surprisingly, only 5.9 per cent of owners in this study cited behaviour as a key factor in rehoming their horse. ...
... There is considerable debate about the social license to compete with horses [12][13][14][15]. In addition, there has been much controversy about the head and neck position of dressage horses and the practice of Rollkur (marked flexion of the neck so that the horse's nose is close to its chest) which has been used in training and warm-up [16][17][18]. ...
Article
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There is considerable debate about the social license to compete with horses and controversy about training methods for dressage horses. The objectives were to: 1. apply the Ridden Horse Pain Ethogram (RHpE) to dressage horses competing at elite Grand Prix level; 2. compare RHpE and judges’ scores; and 3. document deviations in gaits from Fédération Equestre Internationale (FEI) guidelines. Video recordings of 147 competitors from nine World Cup competitions were assessed. Spearman’s rank correlation coefficient tested the correlation between RHpE and judges’ scores. The median RHpE score was 3 (IQR 1, 4; range 0, 7). There was a moderate negative correlation (Spearman rho −0.40, p < 0.001) between the RHpE scores and the judges’ scores. Mouth open with separation of the teeth for ≥10 s (68%), head behind vertical ≥10° ≥ 10 s (67%), an intense stare for ≥5 s (30%) and repeated tail swishing (29%) were the most frequent RHpE behaviours. Deviations from FEI guidelines were most frequent in passage, piaffe, canter flying-changes, canter pirouettes and “halt-immobility-rein back five steps-collected trot”. In conclusion, most horses appeared to work comfortably for the majority of the test. Further investigation of the influence of a double bridle compared with a snaffle bridle on head position and mouth opening is merited.
... It is suggested that the use of a tight noseband may limit the horse's ability to move its tongue, thus resulting in the inability to relieve pressure on sensitive oral tissues, including the bars of the mouth, tongue, and hard palate (McGreevy et al., 2012). Restrictive nosebands, by definition, violate the so-called Five Freedoms (a list of criteria drawn up by the Brambell Committee in 1965, which are deemed necessary to ensure the welfare of animals under human management), in that they intentionally prevent the expression of normal behavior but the transience of their use may mitigate the overall effect (Jones and McGreevy, 2010). ...
Article
The pressures applied to horses via restrictive nosebands are of growing concern to equitation scientists and horse sport administrators. They prevent the expression of normal behavior, may compromise blood flow, and even damage bone. This report describes an approach to estimate in vivo pressures applied to the dorsal and ventral aspects of a horse's nose via a so-called crank noseband. A load cell calibrated over a load range of 0-100 N was integrated into a commercially available crank noseband. These force values were combined with anatomical curvature data to estimate the pressure applied by the noseband to the underlying tissue at any point along the internal surface of the noseband using Laplace's law. Partial profiles of both dorsal and ventral aspects of the horse's nose, at a position corresponding to that of the noseband, were taken by contouring a flexible curve ruler to the nose. The ruler was stiff enough to retain the profile when removed from the nose, thereby allowing faithful transfer of the profile to paper for digitization. Once digitized, straightforward mathematical algorithms were used to provide an analytical expression describing each profile, to calculate profile curvature point by point, and, using measured noseband force values, to transform the curvature into a corresponding sub-noseband pressure profile. This process was used to study pressures applied when the horse chewed hay, chewed concentrate mix, and when it was cued to step backward. The calculated pressures ranged from 200 to 400 mm Hg; pressures that, in humans, are associated with nerve damage and other complications. As such, these preliminary data strongly suggest the need for more research in this domain. The current approach should inform some of the welfare concerns in ridden horses but should also be of use in studies of oral behaviors around foraging as well as crib biting and wind sucking.
... Once used for locomotion and agricultural power, horses now more commonly play roles in sport, leisure and companionship ( McGreevy et al., 2018b ). The empirical study of horse handling, training and riding is central to the nascent discipline of equitation science ( McGreevy, 2007 ) and, as the effect of human interventions on domestic horse welfare is being scrutinized ( McGreevy et al., 2018a ), the exploration of what constitutes ethical equitation ( Jones and McGreevy, 2010 ;Randle and Waran, 2019 ) is increasingly important. ...
Article
Equestrian equipment is often used to maintain control of horses while riding, training or handling them and therefore to optimize human and horse safety. However, equipment that has been incorrectly selected or inappropriately used may result in horses exhibiting conflict-related behavior. Characterising associations between apparatus use and unwelcome horse behavior could benefit both horse welfare and human safety by elucidating the ontogeny of undesirable equine responses and promoting the ethical use of equipment. The current study explored associations between commonly used apparatus and the reported behaviors of the ridden horse, using an online survey that attracted 1101 Australian respondents. Chi-square tests of association revealed thirteen (9.1%) significant relationships between any unwanted behavior and single items of apparatus used during riding. Analysis of combinations of apparatus that impose aversive stimuli (e.g. harsh bits for deceleration, and spurs for acceleration) revealed that 37.19% of combinations of such items were significantly related to unwanted/conflict equine behaviors. Additional analysis demonstrated no significant difference in the unwanted behavior of horses ridden in bitless versus bitted bridles. This study has demonstrated associations between unwanted ridden behaviors and type of apparatus used, particularly when multiple items are used to apply opposing aversive stimuli. Whilst these results do not imply causation, they may be used to better inform equestrians’ choice and ethical use of apparatus.
... Because horses do not live in the house with humans, they are not often considered a family member. However, promotion of horses as companions, rather than simply a mechanism for fun, may improve the attention to welfare [91]. Many equestrians genuinely want a positive relationship with their horse [79]. ...
Article
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Human–horse interactions (HHIs) are diverse and prominent in the equine industry. Stakeholders have an invested interest in making sure that HHIs are humane. Assessment of equine welfare goes beyond physical health and includes assessment of the emotional state of the animal. HHIs can have a permanent effect on human–horse relationships, thereby influencing welfare. Therefore, an understanding of the horse’s affective state during HHIs is necessary. A scoping review was conducted to: (1) map current practices related to the measurement of HHIs; (2) explore the known effects of HHIs on horse behaviour and physiology; and (3) clarify the connection between HHIs and equine welfare. A total of 45 articles were included in this review. Studies that used both physiological and behavioural measures of equine response to human interactions accounted for 42% of the included studies. A further 31% exclusively used physiological measures and 27% used behavioural observation. Current evidence of equine welfare during HHIs is minimal and largely based on the absence of a negative affective state during imposed interactions. Broadening the scope of methods to evaluate a positive affective state and standardization of methodology to assess these states would improve the overall understanding of the horse’s welfare during HHIs.
... However, the ethical implications of whip use on racing horses have been raised. 2 Debate about the appropriateness of whip use is not limited to Australia. In 2011, the British Horseracing Authority (BHA), the body responsible for the regulation of racing in the United Kingdom, conducted a comprehensive review into the use of the whip. ...
Article
Objective To compare handedness of whip use by Australian jockeys in Melbourne (where racing is counterclockwise) and Sydney (where racing is clockwise).Methods Photographs of finishes of Thoroughbred horse races in Melbourne and Sydney were examined. Where whip use was clearly visible, the venue, the hand in which the whip was held and the names of the jockey and the horse were determined. Comparisons of whip hand use between cities were made using the Chi-squared test.ResultsA total of 771 identifications were made, 328 from Melbourne and 443 from Sydney, representing 78 jockeys and 506 horses. Right-handed whip use was identified in 244 (74.39%) photographs of Melbourne races and in 313 (70.65%) photographs of Sydney races. There was no difference between right-handed whip use in Melbourne and Sydney (P = 0.53), nor in the handedness of whip use by individual jockeys (P = 0.74). Predominantly right-handed jockeys demonstrated significantly stronger dominance (84.51 ± 14.03%) compared with left-hand dominant riders (71.07 ± 9.40%; P = 0.01). A total of 84 horses were identified being ridden by the same jockey in different races. In 64 of the 84 cases, the whip was used in the same hand in all photographs. In the remaining instances, the whip was observed to be used in both hands by the one jockey.Conclusion The findings support the view the whip can be used as an aid to steering during races.
... From a welfare perspective, the elite competition context has been linked to activities of a maximum degree of strenuousness, acute/chronic horse injuries resulting from strenuous challenges, and long-distance travel to highly unfamiliar and therefore stressful environments [55]. Some aspects of equestrian sport build upon the horse's 'natural' instincts, others do not; and may therefore represent a source of threat and stress to horses [56]. ...
Article
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The horse–rider relationship is fundamental to ethical equestrianism wherein equine health and welfare are prioritized as core dimensions of sporting success. Equestrianism represents a unique and important form of interspecies activity in which relationships are commonly idealized as central to sporting performance but have been largely unexplored in the sport psychology literature. Horse–rider relationships warrant particular consideration in the elite sporting context, given the tension between constructions of “partnership” between horse and rider, and the pragmatic pressures of elite sport on horse and rider and their relationship. The current study examined the link between sporting performance and the horse–rider relationship in an elite equestrian sporting context. Thirty-six international elite riders from eight countries and six equestrian disciplines participated in a single in-depth interview. A social constructionist, grounded theory methodology was used to analyze this data. The horse–rider relationship was positioned in three different ways in relation to elite sporting outcomes: as pivotal to success; non-essential to success; or as antithetical to success. Participants shifted between these positions, expressing nuanced, ambivalent attitudes that reflected their sporting discipline and their personal orientation to equestrianism. Competitive success was also defined in fluid terms, with participants differentiating between intrinsic and extrinsic markers of success. These findings suggest a complex and multifaceted connection between interspecies performance and relationships in elite sport. Where strong horse–rider relationships are antithetical to performance, a threat to the welfare and ethics of equestrian sport exists. Relevant sporting governing bodies must attend to this problem to ensure the centrality of animal welfare, wellbeing, and performance longevity to equestrian sports.
... The incorrect use of equipment, such as headcollars, can result in injury and compromised equine welfare (Jones and McGreevy 2010). Similarly training flaws within horse-human interactions, such as unsupervised or inappropriate headcollar use, could also result in unintentional equine injuries. ...
Article
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Headcollars (halters, US) are one of the most commonly used pieces of equestrian ‘tack’. Despite this, there appears to be minimal information on their use, or more importantly, risk factors for injury of horses/handlers. To explore headcollar use and safety in equestrians. Quantitative cross‐sectional survey. An online survey (19 questions) exploring headcollar use and safety was disseminated through equestrian social media. Frequency analysis and multivariable modelling identified how headcollar type was linked to use and injury risk. Most respondents (88%; n = 4786) used headcollars multiple times daily but for short time periods (66%, n = 3388, <30 min). A horse being injured as a result of wearing a headcollar was reported by 1615 (31%) respondents with 15% of incidents also injuring a person. Fractures (horses) occurred in 134 incidents, and 167 equine fatalities were reported. Across all headcollar types, the odds of injury risk increased by 1.7 times (confidence intervals (CI): 1.07–2.41, P<0.02) using a headcollar when mucking out. During travelling, headcollar use reduced the odds of risk of injury by 0.7 times (CI: 0.43–0.98, P<0.04). The odds of injury risk reduced when using leather (Odds ratio (OR): 0.8, CI: 0.66–0.96, P<0.01) or synthetic (OR: 0.8, CI: 0.58–0.85, P<0.0001) safety headcollars compared with standard headcollars of the same material. Thematic analysis identified three key themes: (1) need for increased education: fit, safety features and basic horse handling, (2) ‘safer’ leather headcollars, and (3) increased safety focus required. Data were self‐reported and may be subject to memory recall errors; online surveys are subject to self‐selection bias. Increased user knowledge of risk factors for headcollar injury, combined with standardised guidance on how to correctly fit and use headcollars, would be beneficial to reduce injury risk.
... The ethical use of horses demands that we consider the welfare impact that horse-racing has on horses despite the economic and social benefits of horse-racing [25][26][27]. The Melbourne Cup, despite (or perhaps because of) its status as a cultural icon [28], is no exception. ...
Article
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The annual Melbourne Cup Thoroughbred horse race has iconic status among many Australians but sits in the context of increasing criticism of the welfare of Thoroughbred racing horses and the ethics of gambling. Despite heated debates and protests playing out in the public domain, there is scant empirical research to document Australian attitudes to the Melbourne Cup, or horse racing more generally. Specifically, little is known about how support for or against the Melbourne Cup correlate with age, gender, income and level of education. To provide a more nuanced understanding of attitudes towards the cup beyond the rudimentary binaries of those who are ‘for’ or ‘against’ gambling and horse racing, the purpose of the study was to identify clusters of people with particular views. An opportunistic survey collected data on respondents’ gender, age, place of residence, weekly income, employment status and highest level of education, and sought their level of agreement with six statements about the Melbourne Cup, gambling and animal cruelty. Ordinal logistic regression and Chi-square analysis were used to evaluate the age and gender of respondents in clusters respectively. Agreement with the statements revealed some significant associations. Male respondents were at greater odds for agreement with the statement: I regularly bet on horse races (OR = 2.39; 95% CI = 1.78–3.22) as were respondents aged 18–19 years (OR = 2.88; 95% CI = 1.13–7.35) and 20–24 years (OR = 1.90; 95% CI 1.00–3.62) compared with the median 35–40 years age bracket. Agreement with the statement: I will watch the Melbourne Cup but will not place a bet was more likely among the full-time employed (OR = 1.60; 95% CI = 1.10–2.32), for those aged 20–24 years (OR = 1.85; 95% CI = 1.16–2.95). The odds of increasing agreement with the statement: I have never been interested in the Melbourne Cup were multiplied by 0.87 (95% CI = 0.82–0.92) with each successive five-year age bracket. The most useful of the predictor variables for agreement was level of education. The odds of increasing with the statement: I have become less interested in the Melbourne Cup over recent years because of my concerns with gambling were multiplied by 1.09 (95% CI = 1.02–1.15) for each increased level of education. Agreement with the statement: I have become less interested in the Melbourne Cup because of my concerns about animal cruelty was weaker amongst male respondents (OR = 0.62; 95% CI = 0.48–0.80), and those in increasing age brackets (OR = 0.88; 95% CI = 0.83–0.93). A series of six clusters were identified that show how certain attributes of respondents characterise their responses. The authors labelled these clusters “Devotees” (n = 313; 30.4% of respondents), “Flaneurs” (n = 244; 21.8% of respondents), “Disapprovers” (n = 163; 15.9% of respondents), “Casuals” (n = 148; 14.4% of respondents), “Gamblers” (n = 126; 12.3% of respondents) and “Paradoxical-voters” (n = 54; 5.3% of respondents). The implications for support of the Melbourne Cup are explored.
... As many traditional training and management methods are now outdated, and often inappropriate, modern practices have developed in a somewhat haphazard manner, at times incorporating antiquated folklore, obsolete techniques, and potentially unethical practices [1]. This highlights the need for evidence-based practice that prioritises horse welfare [1] and ethical equitation [2]. The ways we train and manage horses will always have a direct impact on their behaviour, which in turn affects both rider safety and horse welfare [3]. ...
Article
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The Equine Behaviour Assessment and Research Questionnaire (E-BARQ) is a questionnaire instrument developed to obtain quantitative data on the domestic equine triad of training, management, and behaviour of horses. The E-BARQ was developed to identify how changes in training and management impact behaviour over time, to define normal behaviour in horses, and to discover how to improve rider safety and horse welfare, leading to ethical equitation. During the development of the E-BARQ, we also investigated how best to motivate stakeholders to engage with this citizen science project. The pilot version of the E-BARQ collected qualitative data on respondents' experience of the questionnaire. The pilot questionnaire was developed with the assistance of an international panel (with professional expertise in horse training, equitation science, veterinary science, equestrian coaching, welfare, animal behaviour, and elite-level riding), and was used to collect data on 1320 horses from approximately 1194 owner/caregiver respondents, with an option for respondents to provide free-text feedback. A Rotated Principal Component Analysis of the 218 behavioural, management, and training questionnaire items extracted a total of 65 rotated components. Thirty-six of the 65 rotated components demonstrated high internal reliability. Of the 218 questionnaire items, 43 items failed to reach the Rotated Principal Component Analysis criteria and were not included in the final version of the E-BARQ. Survey items that failed the Rotated Principal Component Analysis inclusion criteria were discarded if found to have a less than 85% response rate, or a variance of less than 1.3. Of those that survived the Rotated Principal Component Analysis, items were further assigned to horse temperament (17 rotated components), equitation (11 rotated components), and management and equipment (8 rotated components) groups. The feedback from respondents indicated the need for further items to be added to the questionnaire, resulting in a total of 214 items for the final E-BARQ survey. Many of these items were further grouped into question matrices, and the demographic items for horse and handler included, giving a final total of 97 questions on the E-BARQ questionnaire. These results provided content validity, showing that the questionnaire items were an acceptable representation of the entire horse training, management, and behavioural domain for the development of the final E-BARQ questionnaire.
... Horse sports are in the public eye more than ever and the improper use of equipment must be discouraged for these sports to maintain their social licence to operate. Racing authorities may see merit in committing to further research that explores the use of TTs and their justification in sports that wish to be considered ethical [27]. As the current report reflects the findings of a pilot study, we encourage those considering further research in these areas to consider its real-world implications. ...
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This article reports on the results of a survey of racehorse trainers (n = 112) outlining the reasons for tongue-tie (TT) and noseband (NB) use by Thoroughbred trainers (TBTs) (n = 72) and Standardbred trainers (SBTs) (n = 40). The study also investigated the reported effectiveness of TTs and possible complications arising from their use. Tongue-tie use was reported by 62.5% (n = 70) of racehorse trainers. The reasons for TT use varied between TBTs and SBTs. For TBTs, the most common reason for TT use was to prevent or reduce airway obstruction (72.3%, n = 34), followed closely by to prevent or reduce airway noise (55.3%, n = 16). Standardbred trainers assigned equal importance for TT use [to prevent or reduce airway obstruction (69.6%, n = 16) and to prevent the horse from moving its tongue over the bit (69.6%, n = 16)]. Tongue-ties were considered significantly less effective at improving performance than at reducing airway obstruction and preventing the tongue from moving over the bit (t = −2.700, p = 0.0007). For respondents who used both TTs and NBs, there was a mild to moderate positive association between the reasons for using TTs and NBs. Of the 70 TT-using respondents, 51.4% (n = 36) recorded having encountered either a physical or behavioural complication due to TT use, with redness/bruising of the tongue (20.0%, n = 14) being the most common physical complication reported. Duration of use influenced the risk of observing complications. The likelihood of a respondent reporting a behavioural complication due to TT use increased with every minute of reported application and a nine-minute increment in application period doubled the odds of a respondent reporting a complication. Tightness was a risk factor for physical complications: Checking TT tightness by noting the tongue as not moving was associated Citation: Weller, D.; Franklin, S.; White, P.; Shea, G.; Fenner, K.; Wilson, B.; Wilkins, C.; McGreevy, P. The Reported Use of Tongue-Ties and Nosebands in Thoroughbred and Standardbred Horse Racing-A Pilot Study. Animals 2021, 11, 622.
... Specifically, some owners may have been tempted to report the behaviour of their horse more positively (or indeed negatively) than an outsider might. Moreover, the current use of equitation science mailing lists may have led to a form of selection bias, as these targeted individuals who are interested in evidence-based ethical equitation [42]. The authors acknowledge the need for caution when interpreting data from a relatively small number of male respondents. ...
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Current evidence of how human sex-related differences in riders and handlers may influence horse behaviour is limited. The Equine Behaviour Assessment and Research Questionnaire (E-BARQ) was used to collect demographic data on riders and handlers (n = 1420) and behavioural data on their horses. It includes demographic items about the sex of the respondent and how frequently the horse has been ridden or handled by male and female humans. The questionnaire then gathers observations on the horse's behaviour on the ground and under saddle or when driven. Using E-BARQ's battery of 97 questions, the current study showed differences in ridden and non-ridden horse behaviour that were related to the sex of the rider or handler. Data were evaluated using multivariate analysis and revealed that horses handled by male humans were significantly more difficult to catch (t-value = −3.11; p = 0.002) and significantly more defensive when approached (t-value = −2.104; p = 0.035), but significantly less likely to pull on the reins/brace the neck or toss their head (t-value 1.980; p = 0.048) than horses handled more frequently by female humans. The differences found between male and female horse handlers suggest that sex is an important factor to consider when understanding equine behaviour. Our study explored reported differences in confidence , handling and working compliance and touch sensitivity among horses ridden and handled by male and female humans and suggested further research into how these differences are gendered.
... Being subject to continual change in their social groups by humans who have power over where horses are stalled produces loneliness and conflict among horses (9). In addition to denying horses a valuable source of comfort and security, such practices violate their fundamental social agency (Jones and McGreevy 2010). ...
Article
How should a just society treat the many non-human animals that live entirely within human societies? If securing the capabilities of non-human animals is a basic commitment of justice, how can we know which capabilities to secure, and at what level, to enable them to live lives worthy of their dignity? Friendship, as understood through Plato’s Lysis, suggests a posture toward animals that can enable humans to better apprehend what their flourishing requires and to embrace changes in human-animal relationships that are necessary to animals’ flourishing. This conception of friendship deepens the role of the species norm in evaluating humans’ relationships with animals and enables us to see the flourishing of other animals as intimately linked to human flourishing.
... As the debate about the social license to use horses in sport develops [13], the need for ethical equitation is of growing importance [14]. Ethical and effective approaches to behaviour modification involve optimal use of operant conditioning. ...
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An evidence-based understanding of dangerous or unwelcome behaviour in horses would greatly benefit both horses and humans who interact with them. Using owner-reported data from the Equine Behaviour Assessment and Research Questionnaire (E-BARQ), the current study investigated in-hand behaviours associated with dangerous or unwelcome ridden behaviours, notably bolting, rearing and bucking. Respondents (n = 1584) to the ridden horse section of the E-BARQ answered 42 demographic questions, followed by 268 behavioural items. Parallel analysis was conducted to group individual behaviours into rotated components to create independent and dependent indices. Multivariable general linear modelling and ordinal logistic regression were used to identify behaviours associated with bolting, rearing and bucking. Results revealed that safety-from-bolt increased as social confidence with horses (Odds ratio (OR) = 1.06; 95% confidence interval (cf = 1.02-1.09) and other animals (OR = 1.08; cf = 1.03-1.12), compliance in-hand (OR = 1.10; cf = 1.06-1.16) and tolerance of restraint (OR = 1.05; cf = 1.0-1.11) increased; and decreased as loading problems (OR = 0.95; cf = 0.92-0.99) increased. Safety-from-rear increased as tolerance of restraint (OR = 1.07; cf = 1.02-1.12) and social confidence with other animals (OR = 1.05; cf = 1.01-1.09) increased; and decreased as loading problems (OR = 0.94; cf = 0.91-0.98) increased. Safety-from-buck increased as social confidence with horses (b-value = 0.011, p < 0.001) and other animals (b-value = 0.010, p = 0.002), compliance in-hand (b-value = 0.015, p < 0.001), tolerance of restraint (b-value = Animals 2020, 10, 2431 2 of 17 0.009, p = 0.027) and tolerance of haltering/bridling (b-value = 0.016, p = 0.010) increased, and it decreased as loading problems increased (b-value = −0.011, p < 0.001). By revealing, for the first time, that specific behaviours on the ground are associated with particular responses in the same horses when ridden, this study advances equitation science considerably. Identification of risk factors for dangerous behaviour while under saddle can improve safety for horses and riders and highlights the importance of effective and humane in-hand training.
... The continuation of WF races would provide further data to address the current study's limitations and enable the identification of any difference in stewards' reporting over time (as they become more accustomed to the idea of WF races), or between different racecourses/regions. From a cost-benefit analysis approach to equine welfare [48], any costs to introducing WF races would be exceeded by the benefits to racing integrity, horse welfare, public perception and the industry's SLO. ...
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The idea that whip use is critical to thoroughbred racing integrity is culturally entrenched but lacks empirical support. To test the longstanding beliefs that whip use aids steering, reduces interference, increases safety and improves finishing times, we conducted a mixed-method analysis of 126 race reports produced by official stewards of the British Horseracing Authority, representing 1178 jockeys and their horses. We compared reports from 67 "Hands and Heels" races, where whips are held but not used (whipping-free, WF), with 59 reports from case-matched races where whipping was permitted (whipping permitted, WP). Qualitative coding was used to identify and categorise units of analysis for statistical testing via logistic regression and linear mixed model regression. For both types of race, we explored stewards having anything to report at all, movement on course, interference on course, incidents related to jockey behaviour and finishing times. There were no statistically significant differences between WF and WP races for anything to report (OR: 3.06; CI: 0.74-14.73), movement on course (OR: 0.90; CI: 0.37-2.17), interference (OR: 0.90; CI: 0.37-2.17), jockey-related incidents (OR: 1.24; CI: 0.32-5.07), and race times (0.512 s, t = 1.459, p = 0.150). That is, we found no evidence that whip use improves steering, reduces interference, increases safety or improves finishing times. These findings suggest that the WF races do not compromise racing integrity. They also highlight the need for more effective ways to improve the steering of horses.
... Understanding how and why problem behaviours develop will advance safety and welfare. Horse owners and riders have an ethical obligation to be aware of how their training affects their horse because equitation largely relies on the appropriate use of pressure during negative reinforcement [7], the application of aversive stimuli (usually pressure applied via the rider's hands and legs) until the horse offers the desired response, at which point the pressure must be removed to reinforce conditioning of the correct response [8]. The use of prolonged or excessive pressure is contraindicated because it leads to habituation (an outcome which horses are especially prone to) and the consequent need for more pressure in future [9]. ...
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The Equine Behaviour Assessment and Research Questionnaire (E-BARQ) was developed to obtain quantitative data on the domestic equine triad: training, management and behaviour. It can be taken repeatedly, thus collecting longitudinal data to enable evaluation of how changes in a horse's training and management are reflected in that horse's behaviour over time and how these changes can impact horse welfare in the longer term. Questionnaire validation and reliability were tested by determining (a) whether an owner's subjective ratings of their horse's problematic behaviours or undesirable temperament traits were reflected in the questionnaire scores obtained for that horse (construct validity), (b) whether two respondents, equally familiar with a particular horse, reported comparable scores for that horse through the questionnaire (inter-rater reliability), and (c) whether the same respondent, scoring the same horse after a known interval of time, recorded similar responses (intra-rater reliability). Construct validity testing of 1923 responses showed significant alignment between owners' reported experience of focal horses' behaviour and those horses' E-BARQ scores, with scores varying from 1.13 to 1.34 for ridden horse behaviour (all p < 0.001) and from 1.06 to 1.43 for non-ridden horse behaviour (all p < 0.001). Inter-rater reliability testing of ten horse-rider pairs revealed that 203 of the 215 question items were significantly aligned (p < 0.001) when tested by two independent raters. Of the remaining 19 items, four had fair Animals 2020, 10, 1982 2 of 14 alignment (ĸ = 0.174-0.316; p = 0.281) and ten items, largely related to whether the horse shows behavioural signs related to anxiety when taken away from home, did not align (ĸ = 0; p = 1). Intra-rater reliability tests showed that the responses significantly aligned on all 215 question items tested (p < 0.001). The results of these tests confirmed the construct validity and reliability of E-BARQ as a standardised behavioural assessment tool for horses.
... One blog example, "Akeem Foldager timeline" provides a chronicle of public, organizational, and industry participant actions following the publication of photographic evidence of a ridden horse being constricted by the two bits associated with a double bridle, resulting in the animal's tongue turning blue [19]. The science underpinning cardiovascular changes that occur when restrictive gear is used in equitation is well established [20] and the principles of ethical equitation are reasonably clear [21]. However, there still remain considerable gaps between equine welfare science and mainstream horse use. ...
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Simple Although often highly rewarding, human-horse interactions can also be dangerous. Using examples from equine and other contexts, this article acknowledges the growing public awareness of animal welfare, work underway towards safer equestrian workplaces, and the potential for adapting large animal rescue skills for the purposes of horse event incident management. Additionally, we identity the need for further research into communication strategies that address animal welfare and safety issues that arise when humans and horses interact in the workplace. Human-horse interactions have a rich tradition and can be highly rewarding, particularly within sport and recreation pursuits, but they can also be dangerous or even life-threatening. In parallel, sport and recreation pursuits involving animals, including horses, are facing an increased level of public scrutiny in relation to the use of animals for these purposes. However, the challenge lies with event organisers to reconcile the expectations of the public, the need to meet legal requirements to reduce or eliminate risks to paid and volunteer workers, and address horse welfare. In this article we explore incident management at horse events as an example of a situation where volunteers and horses can be placed at risk during a rescue. We introduce large animal rescue skills as a solution to improving worker safety and improving horse welfare outcomes. Whilst there are government and horse industry initiatives to improve safety and address animal welfare, there remains a pressing need to invest in a strong communication plan which will improve the safety of workplaces in which humans and horses interact.
Article
Horse sale advertisements are expected to present horses at their best to entice buyers. In such adverts, the prevalence of severe bits, restrictive nosebands, spurs and whips merits scrutiny because such devices reflect need for strong physical cues and their prevalence may serve as an indicator of training approaches. To examine the occurrence of various types of tack (equestrian gear) 6,580 horse sale advertisements from Australia and North America were inspected for horse demographics, discipline, level, price, any tack and equipment apparent on the horse, rider age and whether the rider was wearing spurs or carrying a whip. Chi-squared analysis and a GLIMMIX procedure determined differences between countries, main factors and their relevant interactions (with significance at a p-value <0.05). The most commonly advertised horse was a bay performance gelding of stock breed working at basic level and priced under $5000. Most horses were depicted in a snaffle bit, dressage saddle and without extra equipment. Thoroughbreds, warmbloods and performance horses at advanced levels were more likely to be wearing more severe bits, restrictive nosebands, head control equipment and ridden with whips and spurs. Examining trends in the range and type of equipment being used on horses can provide insight to the uptake of ethical approaches to ridden horse welfare.
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Social values are thought to play an important role in determining our behaviour towards animals and other entities. In this paper, intrinsic and instrumental values for natural entities are used as the basis for discussion about the use of thoroughbred racehorses in leisure activities. Humans have divided animals into two broad, artificial groups (wild and domestic) and the entities contained within these categories are attributed with certain values. Different ethical standards for human behaviour towards animals are also applied to these two groups, which permit or inhibit the way in which they can be used. Wild animals tend to be attributed with higher intrinsic values and lower instrumental values, and they are often the subject of debates over conservation. Domestic animals are given higher instrumental value but lower intrinsic value and in recent years activist groups have exposed the horrific ways in which some of these animals have been treated.
Article
Ever since the phrase, 'the happy athlete' was introduced into the FEI rules for dressage (Article 401.1) there have been discussions about what this actually means and whether it is possible to recognize and reward positive emotions in working horses. For those interested in the study of equine behaviour, the use of such subjective terms for assessing horse emotion during training and performance, is interesting in that this suggests that horse trainers, riders and judges feel that there are meaningful behavioural expressions of emotional state that can be accurately assessed whilst the horse is at work and during competition. Although there has been much more research into the recognition of negative emotions such as pain, fear and stress in horses, recently there have been a number of studies attempting to look at what horses choose and how they may express pleasure or even happiness. 'Putting the welfare of the horse as a happy athlete at the heart of everything we do', is one of the main values quoted by equestrian bodies, however if we are to manage equine welfare we need to measure it and how successfully this can be done relies upon the development and validation of robust yet practical welfare indicators. Until recently, welfare assessment has traditionally focused on the absence of experiences that induce negative emotions. However, the notions of quality of life, a life worth living and the concept of the happy animal are starting to become more accepted within the animal welfare field with the assumption that if an animal is experiencing positive emotions, then its welfare needs can be said to be met, and if negative, then they are not and welfare is of concern. So the pertinent question is, what is welfare in the context of the horse used for equitation purposes? And what are the most useful welfare indicators for judging the emotional state of an individual horse within the context of the training and performance situation? In this review paper we will examine the results of recent work in this area, and the challenges such research poses both in relation to the science, but also to the use of horses for recreation and sport.
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In this concluding chapter, we consider the aggregate significance of our volume. In relation to expanding our understanding of equestrian cultures around the globe, contributions fortified the existing research on equestrian cultures in England, Europe and North America. They also provided rare insight into the scarcely studied equestrian cultures of Poland, Morocco, Brazil, South Africa and China. Missing from our volume was research on equestrian cultures in Oceania and Australasia as well as other parts of Latin America. At a thematic level, our contributors addressed the call of our previous volume to consider equestrian cultures according to class, risk, equality, aesthetics, sector, identity, age, rural/urban and media. However, whilst these themes are dealt in depth in the present volume, they are largely anthropocentric. We determine two ways in which an equino-centric perspective is needed to rebalance the literature: by asking how horses take part in equestrian culture and how equestrian culture impacts horses. Given that the experimental field of Equitation Science has made rapid advancements in understanding ‘ the nature of horses’, we recommend the formalisation of a sister science to provide a complementary understanding ‘ the cultures of horses’ , and thus better understand how horses and humans together generate equestrian cultures. This Afterword thus provides a rationale for the formalisation of Equestrian Social Science in research and teaching. We outline four areas of research that would benefit considerably from Equestrian Social Science: (1) working equids, (2) equine-assisted therapies, (3) welfare, ethics and social license and (4) sustainable equestrian cultures.
Article
Animals used for sport, recreation and display are highly visible and can divide community attitudes. The study of animal welfare and ethics (AWE) as part of veterinary education is important because it is the responsibility of veterinarians to use their scientific knowledge and skills to promote animal welfare in the context of community expectations. To explore the attitudes of veterinary students in Australia and New Zealand to AWE, a survey of the current cohort was undertaken. The survey aimed to reveal how veterinary students in Australia and New Zealand rate the importance of five selected AWE topics for Day One Competences in animals used in sport, recreation and display and to establish how veterinary students' priorities were associated with gender and stage of study. The response rate (.=851) across the seven schools was just over 25%. Results indicated little variation on ratings for topics. The topics were ranked in the following order (most to least important): Pushing of animals to their physiologic/behavioral limits; ownership/responsibility; euthanasia; educating the public; and behavior, selection, and training for sport and recreation displays. In contrast to related studies, ratings were not associated with stage of study and there were few differences associated with gender. More females rated the pushing of animals to physiologic/behavioral limits as extremely important than did males (.<.001). The role of veterinarians in advocating for and educating the public about the welfare of animals used in sport, recreation and display merits further discussion.
Article
Spurs are traditionally worn by riders to enable more precise stimuli or ‘leg aids’ to be applied, prompting for changes in locomotion, activity, or direction of the horse. Equestrian competitions have seen eliminations and horse welfare concerns raised because of the presence of blood on the horse related to spur use. The aims of this study were to describe spur use across equestrian disciplines and identify reported risk factors that are associated with an increased frequency of skin abrasion. An online survey was administered via social media platforms, industry connections, and national online media sources. It included questions on rider demographics, spur design, injury rates, and perception of current competition regulations. Inclusion criteria required that participants were aged at least 18 years, a horse owner/loaner/sharer, and resided in the United Kingdom. Eight hundred fifty-eight participants responded, resulting in 628 complete responses for further analysis, 597 from females (95%) and 31 from males (5%). The majority were aged between 18 and 29 years (47%), with 41 participants (7%) reporting their age at 58 years or older. Nineteen types of equestrian activities were reported and categorized into Federation Equestrian Internationale (FEI) competitive disciplines, non-FEI competitive disciplines, and recreational disciplines. Descriptive statistics, odds ratios, and chi-squared tests were used (IBM SPSS v24.0) with an alpha value set at P < 0.05 (confidence interval 95%) unless otherwise stated. 47% of all participants used spurs. Relationships were found between spur use and gender and duration of years riding. Males were 2.88 times more likely to use spurs than females (P = 0.005). Riders within competitive non-FEI disciplines were 1.53 times more likely to use spurs than recreational riders and 1.48 times more likely to use spurs than those competing in FEI disciplines. Longer spur shanks (>32 mm) significantly increased the risk of skin abrasions or hair loss related to spur use (P < 0.0001). Rotating spur designs were 1.5 times more likely to be associated with injury compared with fixed shank designs. Future research should consider motivational factors for equipment selection and how it then affects the horse. This information may aid policy makers to formulate ethical guidelines for equestrian sport but also extends to inform riders of all levels how their choice of day-to-day equipment can affect equine welfare.
Poster
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There are numerous ethical and welfare issues associated with the practice which this poster will briefly present, arguing that the potential benefits simply do not outweigh the potential welfare costs suffered by the many equines currently racing.
Article
Horse riders in the UK have a legal responsibility for the welfare of the horses in their care, outlined by the Animal Welfare Act (2006). Understanding weight management factors that influence rider: horse bodyweight (RHBW) ratio is key to safeguarding horse welfare as human obesity rates increase. Recent high-profile incidents have seen riders being asked to dismount for being too heavy, demonstrating an awareness of the possible impact of excessive rider weight, threatening the equestrian industry’s social licence to operate. This study investigated RHBW trends within the UK leisure and amateur rider population to understand rider perception of ‘ideal’ RHBW and factors influencing rider and horse weight management. An online survey (SurveyMonkey®) was distributed via UK equine-related Facebook™ groups and collected information on horse and rider demographics, rider weight management strategies and respondents’ views on the importance of rider weight on horse welfare. Kruskal-Wallis analyses with Mann Whitney U post-hoc tests identified whether differences in respondent views differed between RHBW groups. A total of 971 riders completed the survey; respondents were aged between 18-65+ years old and 88% (n=953) were experienced riders. RHBWs were calculated for 764 (79%) of respondents as 21.2% (n=206) did not know either their own and/or their horses’ weight. Weight tapes (44.5%; n=432) and weigh bridges (29.5%; n=286) were common horse weight estimation methods. RHBWs ranged from 4.9% to 21.88%, mean: 12.5%±2.7%. Riders with lower RHBW thought about their own weight less and measured their horses’ weight less often than those with higher ratios (P<0.005, P<0.0004, respectively). The majority of riders who participated were weight conscious and recognised potential detrimental impacts associated with increased rider weight. Development of RHBW guidelines supported by equestrian governing bodies would highlight the need for riders to consider the impact of weight and support them in choosing suitable horses.
Article
Ridden horse behaviour problems are common and likely contribute to the dangers of horse riding. Emerging evidence suggests ridden horse behaviour problems likely signal poor welfare, however the relationships between ridden horse behaviour, horse welfare and rider safety, are yet to be fully elucidated. This study seeks to address this gap. Modern conceptualisations of animal welfare integrate physical wellbeing and affective state while recognising the dynamic nature of welfare status. Reflecting the latest understanding of animal welfare, the recently updated Five Domains Model emphasises welfare consequences of husbandry and training practices. However, horse welfare assessment tools generally do not directly measure the ridden aspects of a horse’s life. A survey was developed encompassing both husbandry and ridden behaviour to incorporate this expanded understanding of horse welfare. Underpinned by the Five Domains Model and existing welfare assessment tools, easily identified aspects of husbandry, health and horse behaviour were selected as animal-based welfare indicators. A relative horse welfare score was calculated based on riders’ responses to each indicator. Additionally, riders reported their riding accidents and injuries incidences. Relative horse welfare scores were compared to ridden horse behaviour and rider accidents and injuries. Of the 427 participants, 94.4% were female, mean age was 44.3 years (SD 13.9), 49% were intermediate riders, 81% belonged to an equestrian organisation. The median relative welfare score was 71.0 (IQR 10.0) and 59% of horses performed one or more ridden hyperreactive behaviour in the previous seven days. Relative welfare score and rider accidents and injuries were significantly negatively correlated (r = -0.37, p<0.001). Rider accidents and injuries were significantly positively correlated with ridden hyperreactive behaviour occurrence (r = 0.34, p<0.001). Limitations included convenience sample and retrospective, self-report methodology. Despite this, the results consistently supported the hypothesis that horses with better welfare perform fewer hyperreactive behaviours and their riders that have fewer accidents and injuries. Furthermore, the self-report nature of this study demonstrates it is possible to develop tools for riders that are sensitive enough to detect changes in their horse’s welfare that may predict danger in the saddle. Equipping riders with such a tool could raise their awareness of the welfare impacts (positive and negative) of their horse care and training practices. Increased salience of horse welfare coupled with the recognition that horse welfare and human safety are connected, may encourage the adoption of practices that enhance the welfare of horses, and likewise, their riders.
Article
The Australian Racing Board makes a distinction under its Rules of Racing concerning whip use between forehand and backhand whip action that is critically important: before the final 100 m of a race, the whip shall be used in a forehand manner neither in consecutive strides nor on more than 5 occasions. This seems to imply that backhand whip use is less closely scrutinized, which may have profound implications for horse welfare. We used pressure-detection pads to examine the force on the impact of 288 whip strikes (left forehand, left backhand, right forehand, and right backhand; n = 72 each) in batches of 12 consecutive strikes by 6 right-handed jockeys based in Victoria, a state in which thoroughbred racing is always conducted in a counterclockwise direction. The mean latency (±standard error of the mean) to complete each series of 12 strikes was 6.89 ± 0.44 seconds. The mean for force was 46.90 ± 5.39 N. Significant differences in force emerged between individual jockeys and in most interactions between jockey, hand and action. This highlights the problems the industry has in trying to enforce equity in whip use to satisfy punters while at the same time giving reassurances about horse welfare. The current results show that action (forehand vs. backhand) does not influence force on impact when using the nondominant hand. However, when using the dominant hand, these jockeys struck with more force in the backhand (P = 0.02). This result challenges the current focus on welfare concerns around forehand whip strikes. It should inform any review of the rules around whip use because it may help to avoid any unjustified focus on either forehand whip use or backhand whip use. This would help to inform the debate around levels of impact on fatigued horses when they are being struck for a perceived sporting gain.
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We measured horse density, social structure, habitat use, home ranges and altitudinal micro-climates in the south-western Kaimanawa ranges east of Waiouru, New Zealand. Horse density in the Auahitotara ecological sector averaged 3.6 horses.km-2 and ranged from 0.9 to 5.2 horses.km-2 within different zones. The population's social structure was like that of other feral horse populations with an even adult sex ratio, year round breeding groups (bands) with stable adult membership consisting of 1 to 11 mares, 1 to 4 stallions, and their pre- dispersal offspring, and bachelor groups with unstable membership. Bands and bachelor males were loyal to undefended home ranges with central core use areas. Band home range sizes varied positively with adult band size. Home ranges overlapped entirely with other home ranges. Horses were more likely to occupy north facing aspects, short tussock vegetation and flush zones and avoid high altitudes, southern aspects, steeper slopes, bare ground and forest remnants. Horses were more likely to be on north facing aspects, steeper slopes, in exotic and red tussock grasslands and flush zones during winter and at lower altitudes and on gentler slopes in spring and summer. Seasonal shifts by bands to river basin and stream valley floors in spring and higher altitudes in autumn and winter are attributed to the beginning of foaling and mating in spring and formation of frost inversion layers in winter. Given horse habitat selectivity and the presence of other ungulate herbivores, results from present exclosures are likely to exaggerate the size of horse impacts on range vegetation. Proposals to manage the population by relocation and confinement are likely to modify current social structure and range use behaviour and may lead to the need for more intensive management in the longer term.
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It is unknown if different locomotor activities are equally effective at meeting the stabled horse's need for exercise and if they attenuate unwanted behaviour. Alternative forms of exercise influence the intensity of locomotor activities during a period of turn-out (the so-called rebound effect) and the occurrence of unwanted or undesirable activities during standard handling situations. Twenty-four horses kept in stables were randomly assigned to one of 4 exercise regimes (walker, treadmill, turn-out and riding) for 4 consecutive days. Because these forms of exercise provide additional environmental stimulation, beyond that provided by exercise, each horse served as its own control in 4 corresponding (no exercise) control treatments presented in a balanced order. Unwanted behaviour was tested by taking horses to weighing scales and loading and unloading them onto a 4-horse float by an experienced handler and the rebound effect was tested by releasing them into a large arena for a period of 15 min at the end of the exercise and control treatments. Locomotor activities made up a large part of behaviour in the large arena following control treatments and all exercise regimes were sufficient to reduce the intensity of walking (P < 0.05), trotting (P < 0.01) and cantering (P < 0.001) on release into a large arena. Exercise regime reduced the number of bucks (P < 0.01) and rolling (P < 0.05) during rebound tests suggesting that turn-out was having a stronger effect than the other 3 exercise regimes. Exercise regimes significantly reduced the amount of unwanted behaviour and the number of commands given by the handler during weighing (P < 0.05) but had no effect on these behaviours during loading onto a float. Providing stabled horses with one hour/day of exercise on a walker, treadmill, turn-out or by being ridden are all effective at allowing expression of locomotor activities in stabled horses. Providing stabled horses with regular exercise is likely to provide positive effects on horse welfare, training ability and handler safety.
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This article examines the recently completed equid ethogram and shows how analogues of social interactions between horses may occur in various human-horse interactions. It discusses how some specific horse-horse interactions have a corresponding horse-human interaction - some of which may be directly beneficial for the horse while others may be unusual or even abnormal. It also shows how correspondent behaviours sometimes become inappropriate because of their duration, consistency or context. One analogue is unlikely to hold true for all horse-human contexts, so when applying any model from horse-horse interactions to human-horse interactions, the limitations of the model may eclipse the intended outcome of the intervention. These limitations are especially likely when the horse is being ridden. Such analyses may help to determine the validity of extrapolating intra-specific interactions to the inter-specific setting, as is advocated by some popular horse-training methods, and highlight the subsequent limitations where humans play the role of the 'alpha mare' or leader in horse handling and training. This examination provides a constructive framework for further informed debate and empirical investigation of the critical features of successful intra-specific interactions.
Article
Temple Grandin is the world expert at leading cattle, pigs, and lambs to the slaughter. She is also the world's most famous person diagnosed with autism. She holds that most unautistic people think mostly in words but that animals and autists think in pictures. Hence she knows, for example, what really scares animals and how to diminish their fear. Cattle in the queue to be killed know perfectly well (this is me speaking for a moment) that something awful is just around the corner. So Grandin walks or crawls along the deadly corridor to notice, from an animal's eye, what cues lurk and redesigns the plant accordingly. By the time she has explained it to us, it is quite clear why a shadow or shape or light is terrifying, but apparently it took her to think about things from the animal's point of view. Most slaughterhouses in North America have learned from her. Her simple rule of thumb is that if more than a quarter of the cattle need to be electrically goaded, then something is wrong. Since a really upset steer causes as much loss of time, production, and cash as a fit of epilepsy on an old-time assembly line, meatpackers have taken her advice and continue to ask for it. Incidentally, she is not in favor of eating animals; she realistically believes that we will go on eating them, so we'd better make our killing more "humane." The book expresses Grandin's distilled wisdom about animals, autism, and people. It does so with an unusual mix of hundreds of anecdotes and lots of citations of recent papers on neurology and on animal behavior—the two genres often being run together in the same paragraph. The citations and anecdotes reel on, hand in hand. Notice something remarkable here: a primary ground for diagnosing people as autistic is that they have great difficulty socializing and understanding other people. Grandin is a massive counterexample: she tells so many stories about her friends, acquaintances, and their beasts that one feels she is the most networked person in the world. And of course she had to have enormous powers of persuasion to change the men who run the abattoirs. Her vision of the minds and brains of animals casts current folklore about regions of the brain and what they do into simple, digestible form. In her chapter on animal aggression, we learn that there are two types of aggression, located in different parts of a mammal's head, namely the predatory and affective types: "Humans have a tendency to mix up these two states, because the outcome is the same: a smaller, weaker animal ends up dead. But predatory aggression and rage aggression couldn't be more different for the aggressor." There are seven types of affective aggression ("Dogs have an inborn guard against excessive aggression called bite inhibition"). On the front cover of this National Bestseller, Entertainment Weekly is quoted: "At once hilarious, fascinating, and just plain weird, Animals is one of those rare books that elicit a 'wow' on every page." Is she right about how animals and autists think? Her ideas are suggestive, to be reflected on and investigated. She certainly has the credentials, as someone who has arisen from a dreadful disability to change the world far more effectively than, I suspect, any reader of Common Knowledge. The style will put off a lot of those selfsame readers, but there are important assertions to dwell on. On the first page of the concluding "Behavior and Training Troubleshooting Guide," we read a summary of a doctrine urged throughout the book: "A basic principle of animal behavior is that WHO you have sex with, WHAT you eat, WHERE you eat, WHO you fight with, and WHO you socialize with are learned." That is a happy antidote to the neurological and genetic determinism that fills the pages of today's scientific folklore. Ian Hacking is professor of the history and philosophy of science at the Collège de France and University Professor at the University of Toronto. His books include The Social Construction of What?, Mad Travelers, Rewriting the Soul, Representing and Intervening, The Taming of Chance...
Article
Olympic dressage involves “an intimate unity between a human and a non-human” and is scored by a subjective judging process, under the auspices of the Fédération Equestre Internationale whose Code of Conduct declares the welfare of the horse as paramount. Dressage is of particular interest to equitation scientists and equine ethologists because it embodies the full range of the stimulus-response contingencies that operate in all of the Olympic disciplines. In Fédération Equestre Internationale dressage competition, collective marks are awarded across four domains immediately after each performance. Collective marks are designed to summarize the performance of horse and rider and must reflect the qualities of the entire performance. They are derived from the observation of the judges of the separate test movements. The 4 collective marks include: (1) paces; (2) impulsion; (3) submission; and (4) the rider's position and seat; correctness and effect of the aids (rider signals). The definition of submission in this context makes reference to lightness and other qualities that align with optimal ridden horse welfare. We assessed the characteristics of these marks in horses competing in the 2008 Olympic Games Grand Prix (GP; n=46) and Grand Prix Special (GPS; n=25) dressage competitions. We also examined the effect of judge location and used Pearson correlation coefficients to explore relationships between collective marks and test-movement scores. All 4 collective marks correlated with each other significantly (P
Article
Ethical equitation is nowadays coming into sharp focus in equestrian culture. Concerns surround the ethics of sports based on controlling an animal's locomotory responses and in using animals such as horses in sport in general. Anthropomorphically labeled misinterpretations of the responses of trained horses, such as the use of terms like “mad,” “lazy,” “keen,” and “stubborn,” may be detrimental to optimal equine welfare. Similarly, the concept of the “equine athlete” may imply an ill-informed teleological explanation of the motives of the horse in sport. Despite problems in identifying the happy horse, rewarding optimal welfare and the absence of critical stress responses in performance horses is an important step forward.
Article
By definition, ethology is primarily the scientific study of animal behavior, especially as it occurs in a natural environment; applied ethology being the study of animal behavior in the human domain. The terms equine ethology and ethological training are becoming commonplace in the equestrian domain, yet they seem to be used with a conspicuous lack of clarity and with no mention of learning theory. Most of what we do to train horses runs counter to their innate preferences. This article summarizes the ethological challenges encountered by working horses and considers the merits and limitations of ethological solutions. It also questions the use of terms such as “alpha” and “leader” and examines aspects of learning theory, equine cognition, and ethology as applied to horse training and clinical behavior modification. We propose 7 training principles that optimally account for the horse’s ethological and learning abilities and maintain maximal responsivity in the trained horse. These principles can be summarized as: (1) use learning theory appropriately; (2) train easy-to-discriminate signals; (3) train and subsequently elicit responses singularly; (4) train only one response per signal; (5) train all responses to be initiated and subsequently completed within a consistent structure; (6) train persistence of current operantly conditioned responses; and (7) avoid and disassociate flight responses. Adherence to these principles and incorporating them into all horse training methodologies should accelerate training success, reduce behavioral wastage of horses, and improve safety for both humans and horses.
Article
To explore the range of tensions used in reins to elicit specific movements from a range of horses, 22 horses of mixed age, sex, breed and training history were long-reined and ridden through a standard course. The reins contained embedded load cells so that tensions used to elicit specific movements could be measured and logged. These movements were categorised into ‘left turn’, ‘right turn’, ‘going straight’ and ‘halt’ and were separated for left and right rein tensions. The data were analysed using two-sample non-parametric Kolmogorov–Smirnoff tests and the differences between categories of horse and equipment were analysed with one-way analysis of variance. The tensions recorded in the reins were greater for long-reining than riding (median 5.76, Q25 3.9, Q75 13.3N and median 5.29, Q25 9.3, Q75 2.9N, respectively, P=0.025), irrespective of whether the horses were ridden with a halter or a bridle or whether the test was completed at a walk or a trot. The tensions did not differ between the left and right reins (P>0.05) when the horses were being driven or ridden in a straight line, providing evidence that an ‘even contact’ was maintained. The rein tension required for going straight was less than for any other responses, showing that a lighter contact on the reins can be maintained between the application of specific stimuli. The rein tension required to elicit the halt response was greater than for any other response (P0.05). Clearly, a range of rein tensions is required for horses to elicit specific responses. In the interests of horse welfare and avoidance of habituation, those involved in equitation need to become aware of the tensions used in training horses and seek to keep them to a minimum. When rein tension can be measured objectively, this process can be easily implemented and monitored.
Article
Many horse owners tend to group horses according to gender, in an attempt to reduce aggressive interactions and the risk of injuries. The aim of our experiment was to test the effects of such gender separation on injuries, social interactions and individual distance in domestic horses. A total of 66 horses were recruited from 4 different farms in Norway and Denmark and divided into six batches. Within each batch, horses were allotted into one mare group, one gelding group and one mixed gender group, with most groups consisting of three or four animals. After 4-6 weeks of acclimatisation, a trained observer recorded all social interactions using direct, continuous observation 1 h in the morning and I h in the afternoon for three consecutive days. Recordings of the nearest neighbour of each horse were performed using instantaneous sampling every 10 min. The horses were inspected for injuries before grouping, day I after grouping and after 4-6 weeks. No significant effect of gender composition was found on social interactions (P > 0.05), spacing (P > 0.07) or injuries (P > 0.23). Eighty percent of all aggressive interactions recorded were threats, not involving physical contact. Horses with the smallest space allowance showed the highest mean number of aggressive interactions (28.6 +/- 6.1 interactions per 6 h) compared to the mean of all the other batches (8.3 +/- 1.0 interactions per 6 h). Very few injuries were found and most were superficial. In conclusion, gender composition does not seem to have any effect on aggression level, spacing or injuries. However, the early social experience of horses, management of feeding and space allowance probably represents more important factors for successful group housing of domestic horses.
Chapter
The evolution of the horse began some 65 million years ago. The horse’s survival has depended on adapative behaviour patterns that enabled it to exploit a diverse range of habitats, to successfully rear its young and to avoid predation. Domestication took place relatively recently in evolutionary time and the adaptability of equine behaviour has allowed it to exploit a variety of domestic environments. Though there are benefits associated with the domestic environment, including provision of food, shelter and protection from predators, there are also costs. These include restriction of movement, social interaction, reproductive success and maternal behaviour. Many aspects of domestication conflict with the adaptive behaviour of the horse and may affect its welfare through the frustration of highly motivated behaviour patterns. Horse behaviour appears little changed by domestication, as evidenced by the reproductive success of feral horse populations around the world.
Chapter
Horses tend to be housed in loose boxes, stalls, barns and shelters for ease of management, however these systems present Horses tend to be housed in loose boxes, stalls, barns and shelters for ease of management, however these systems present several possible threats to equine health and welfare. These systems are reviewed together with the concerns they raise. A several possible threats to equine health and welfare. These systems are reviewed together with the concerns they raise. A common system for the evaluation of the welfare of contained animals focuses on the provision of five freedoms. These are common system for the evaluation of the welfare of contained animals focuses on the provision of five freedoms. These are freedom from hunger, thirst and malnutrition, from discomfort, from pain, injury and disease, from fear and distress and to freedom from hunger, thirst and malnutrition, from discomfort, from pain, injury and disease, from fear and distress and to express most normal patterns of behaviour. This approach is used to assess the ways in which horse welfare may be compromised express most normal patterns of behaviour. This approach is used to assess the ways in which horse welfare may be compromised by certain housing practices and management regimes. Recommendations as to how these problems can be resolved and to promote by certain housing practices and management regimes. Recommendations as to how these problems can be resolved and to promote good practice are provided. good practice are provided.
Article
This study investigated the effects of weighted boots on horses (n=6) jumping a 1.25 m oxer fence. The horses had similar training experience and were assigned to two groups of three subjects (groups G1 and G2). All horses performed 10 jumping efforts: G1 horses made attempts 1-5 without boots and 6-10 with boots; G2 made attempts 1-5 with boots and 6-10 without boots. Data were available via sagittal plane S-VHS recordings and t test analyses focussed on limb-placement dimensions. There were no differences among performances of the horses in the horizontal plane, but there were significant differences in the vertical plane. All horses achieved significantly greater hindlimb elevation with the weighted boots (1.60 m) compared with no boots (1.46 m; P<0.05). Although not measured directly, the significantly greater elevation during the jump stride flight phase appears to be a consequence of increased kinetic energy associated with the horses' hindlimbs.
Article
A greater knowledge of the effect of management factors is required to investigate the ontogeny of abnormal behaviour in the stabled horse. A postal survey of racehorse (flat) trainers yielded information about 22 yard and management factors. The relationship of the factors to the prevalence of abnormal behaviour was analysed by logistic regression. Management factors related to the time spent in the stable showed the strongest associations with stereotypic behaviour. The risk of horses performing abnormal behaviour increased: 1) as the amount of forage fell below 6.8 kg/day, 2) when bedding types other than straw were used, 3) when the total number of horses on the yard was fewer than 75, 4) in association with box designs that minimised contact between neighbouring horses, 5) when hay, rather than other types of forage, was used.
Article
The lengthy association of humans with horses has established traditional equestrian techniques that have served military and transport needs well. Although effective, these techniques have by-passed the research findings of modern psychologists, who developed the fundamentals of learning theory. That said, the pools of equestrian debate are far from stagnant. The latest wave of horse whisperers has offered some refinements and some novel interpretations of the motivation of horses undergoing training. Additionally, the Fédération Equestre Internationale (FEI) has introduced the concept of the 'happy equine athlete' and, in the light of the hyperflexion (Rollkür) debate, recently examined the possible effects of some novel dressage modalities on equine 'happiness'. However, many still question the welfare of the ridden horse since it is largely trained using negative reinforcement, has to respond to pressure-based signals and is seldom asked to work for positive rewards. Science holds tremendous promise for removing emotiveness from the horse-riding welfare debate by establishing how much rein tension is too much; how much contact is neutral; how contact can be measured; how discomfort can be measured; how pain can be measured; and how learned helplessness manifests in horses. These are some of the topics addressed by equitation science, an emerging discipline that combines learning theory, physics and ethology to examine the salience and efficacy of horse-training techniques.
Article
In 1997, a severity scale to assess and record the level of welfare compromise to animals used in research, testing and teaching was introduced in New Zealand. Under this scale, the severity of procedures was expressed in terms of different categories of suffering based on numerous examples at the five levels outlined in a paper by Mellor and Reid (1994). This paper reports on a review into the operation and effectiveness of that scale and the extent to which it fulfils the purposes for which it was devised. Key features of the scale are described, including its strengths and limitations, and comparisons with other scales operating internationally are made. Recommendations regarding modification of the scale based on this evaluation are outlined, and key steps in its implementation are described.
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Singo joins wide discontent over whip rules Brisbane Times Available at: http://www.brisbanetimes.com.au/sport/horserac- ing/singo-joins-wide-discontent-over-whip-rules-20090827-ezx7.html
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Young, C., 2009. Singo joins wide discontent over whip rules. Brisbane Times. Available at: http://www.brisbanetimes.com.au/sport/horserac- ing/singo-joins-wide-discontent-over-whip-rules-20090827-ezx7.html. Accessed March 12, 2010.
A model for assessing the relative humaneness of pest animal control methods. Australian Government Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry
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Sharp, T., Saunders, G., 2008. A model for assessing the relative humaneness of pest animal control methods. Australian Government Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry, Canberra, ACT, Australia.
Rules for dressage events
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Independent review commissioned by the NSW National Parks and Wildlife Service
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FEI round table conference resolves rollkur controversy
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