Article

An investigation of behaviour during tacking‐up and mounting in ridden sports and leisure horses

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Abstract

There has been no large‐scale, evidence‐based study on horses’ behaviour while being tacked ‐up or mounted. To describe equine behaviour during tacking‐up and mounting. Cross‐sectional, prospective observational study, using a convenience sample. A purpose‐designed protocol for documenting behaviour during tacking‐up and mounting was developed. Horses were recruited from 11 locations, from both amateur and professional riders. Horses (n = 193) were observed during acquisition of predefined information from the owners. Behaviour data were recorded during bridling, placement of the saddle, girthing and mounting. The majority (67%) were bridled first. The median sum of abnormal behaviours during tacking‐up was 10/64 (interquartile range [IQR] 7.13; range 0.33). There was an equal frequency of abnormal behaviours during bridling and saddling in 52% of horses; 34% of horses showed more abnormal behaviours during saddling than bridling; 15% of horses showed more abnormal behaviours during bridling than saddling. The duration of abnormal behaviours related to total tacking‐up time was 25–75% in 51% of horses. There was a positive relationship between the sum of abnormal behaviours and the duration of abnormal behaviours (P = 0.0001). Repeatedly chomping on the bit occurred most frequently during bridling (67%). Ears back (57–65%) and an intense stare (54–62%) were similar in all phases. Fidgeting was more common during saddle placement (32%) and girthing (21%), than bridling (9%). Tail swishing was more frequent during saddle placement (20%) and girthing (34%), than bridling (10%). Turning the head to the girth was only seen during saddle placement and girthing (11 and 40%, respectively), in addition to attempting to bite (5 and 15%, respectively) and rubbing the nose (8 and 21%, respectively). The median sum of abnormal behaviours during mounting was 1/30 (IQR 1.3; range 0.12). Main limitations: Absence of many nonlame horses with correctly fitting tack. Abnormal behaviour during tacking‐up and mounting was common.

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... Hypersensitivity in the girth region may be implicated (Van Iwaarden et al. 2012;Bowen et al. 2017). In some horses with gastric ulceration treated using omeprazole with or without sucralfate, abnormal behaviour during tacking-up has resolved (Millares-Ramirez and Le Jeune 2019; Dyson et al. 2020c). Muscle compression by the saddle may also induce changes in behaviour (Van Iwaarden et al. 2012). ...
... Muscle compression by the saddle may also induce changes in behaviour (Van Iwaarden et al. 2012). However, a recent observational study documented that in a proportion of horses more abnormal behaviour was seen while the bridle was put on than when the saddle was positioned and the girth was tightened (Dyson et al. 2020c). It has been suggested that the use of a tight crank cavesson noseband may inhibit normal facial movements during tacking-up and that this may be associated with stress, as reflected by an increase in heart rate compared with use of a less restrictive noseband (Fenner et al. 2016). ...
... The behaviour of horses during tacking-up and mounting has been described in depth (Dyson et al. 2020c), and the relationship with noseband type and fit was explored. The aims of the current phase of the study were to relate behavioural abnormalities during tacking-up or mounting to the presence of epaxial muscle hypertonicity or pain, girth region hypersensitivity, ill-fitting tack for horse or rider, rider position and balance, or equine musculoskeletal pain. ...
Article
Reasons for abnormal behaviour during tacking‐up and mounting are poorly documented. To relate behavioural abnormalities during tacking‐up or mounting to epaxial muscle hypertonicity or pain, girth region hypersensitivity, ill‐fitting tack, rider position and balance, or equine musculoskeletal pain. Prospective observational study; convenience sample of 193 horses. The behaviour of horses in a stable or tied up was observed for ≥8 min before systematic palpation of the thoracolumbosacral and girth regions. Owners were asked to tack‐up and mount using their normal regime. A purpose‐designed protocol for assessment of behaviour during tacking‐up and mounting was applied. Lameness was evaluated in‐hand and during ridden exercise. Static and dynamic saddle‐fit were assessed. A static saddle‐fit score was the sum of any saddle‐fit abnormality. Rider position in the saddle, balance and size relative to the saddle were evaluated during ridden exercise. Multivariable negative binomial regression modelling was used to assess the relationship between the sum of tacking‐up and mounting behaviours and horse, rider and tack‐fit variables. Riding School horses comprised only 12% of the sample population, but had higher rates of abnormal behaviours during both tacking‐up (P<0.0001) and mounting (P = 0.007) compared with General Purpose horses. The rate of abnormal behaviour during tacking‐up for horses with moderate or severe lameness was 1.4 times higher (P = 0.02) than for nonlame horses. Horses with lameness in‐hand or ridden had 1.5 times higher rates of abnormal behaviour during mounting than nonlame horses. Tight tree points (P = 0.03) and epaxial muscle pain (P<0.001) were associated with higher behaviour scores during tacking‐up. Higher static saddle‐fit scores were associated with higher behaviour scores during mounting. Oral examination was not performed. The display of many behaviours during tacking‐up or mounting is likely to reflect lameness or tack‐associated discomfort. Owners must be better educated to recognise these behaviours.
... It was designed to assess owners' perceptions of their horses' behaviour during tacking-up and mounting and to document real-time observations of behaviour. Detailed descriptions of the real-time behaviour as assessed by an expert have been documented elsewhere (Dyson et al. 2021a). It was determined that only 3% of 193 horses exhibited either no behavioural changes or exhibited 'normal' behaviour as defined by a display of abnormalities for less than 5% of the time they were being tacked-up. ...
... In addition, some novel behaviours that were observed repeatedly, which had not been included in the original protocol, were recorded but not included in the agreement analysis. These included tongue out, tail swishing, increased frequency of partial eyelid closure, blinking or transient eye closure, fidgeting, opening of the mouth repeatedly and excessively during bridle placement; tongue out, turning the head towards girth (not biting) during placement of the saddle; rubbing the nose or the teeth against the wall, chewing or licking the wall or door, lowering the head and neck while the saddle was placed or the girth was tightened (Dyson et al. 2021a). Excellent intrarater reliability for repeated observations of the majority of behaviours by the veterinarian has previously been demonstrated (Dyson et al. 2021a). ...
... These included tongue out, tail swishing, increased frequency of partial eyelid closure, blinking or transient eye closure, fidgeting, opening of the mouth repeatedly and excessively during bridle placement; tongue out, turning the head towards girth (not biting) during placement of the saddle; rubbing the nose or the teeth against the wall, chewing or licking the wall or door, lowering the head and neck while the saddle was placed or the girth was tightened (Dyson et al. 2021a). Excellent intrarater reliability for repeated observations of the majority of behaviours by the veterinarian has previously been demonstrated (Dyson et al. 2021a). ...
Article
Causes of abnormal behaviour during tacking‐up or mounting are multifactorial, but may be associated with an ill‐fitting saddle, a rider sitting on the caudal third of the saddle, or lameness. To determine whether: (1) owners believed their horse showed abnormal behaviour when tacked‐up or mounted; (2) this agreed with observations by a veterinarian. Cross‐sectional study; convenience sample. Horses were undergoing prepurchase examinations, investigation of poor performance, or were recruited by invitation. Owners were asked if their horse showed abnormal behaviour when tacked‐up or mounted and subsequently whether they showed specific behaviours (yes/no) during bridling, saddling, girthing and mounting. Each horse was observed during tacking‐up and mounting by one veterinarian who recorded the occurrence of each behaviour. Agreement between the owners and the veterinarian was evaluated using intraclass correlation (ICC) coefficients with 95% confidence intervals (CI). Overall 34.2% (66/193) of owners reported that their horse showed behavioural abnormalities during tacking‐up or mounting. There was poor to good agreement between the owners and veterinarian for horses putting their head up to avoid bridling (ICC 0.53, CI 0.37, 0.64) and being reluctant to open their mouth for the bit (ICC 0.52, CI 0.36, 0.64). There was poor to fair agreement for evading noseband tightening (ICC 0.41, CI 0.21, 0.56), elevating the head (ICC 0.24, CI 0.00, 0.43) and teeth grinding (ICC 0.23, CI 0.00, 0.42). For attempts to bite, there was fair to excellent agreement during saddling (ICC 0.67, CI 0.56, 0.75) and good to excellent agreement during girthing (ICC 0.73, CI 0.64, 0.79). Results for some behaviours suggested potential systematic disagreement between the veterinarian and owners. Potential bias of volunteers recruited by invitation. Day‐to‐day variation of behaviours is unknown. The majority of owners were unaware that their horses showed behavioural abnormalities during tacking‐up or mounting.
... A study of over 3000 Danish competition horses found that tighter nosebands were associated with the prevalence of lesions at the corner of the lips where the bit sits [12]. Horses resistant or evasive to bridling may perceive an association between wearing tack and pain [13]. ...
... Despite the plethora of research by leading scientists on the perils of overtightened nosebands [4][5][6][10][11][12][13]19,30] many members either did not know about the research results or were highly suspicious of them. Science skepticism is not a new concept and many factors such as religious, moral and political beliefs along with an understanding of basic science influence how people evaluate and integrate knowledge [35]. ...
Article
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Recent concerns regarding horse welfare during competition has highlighted the occurrence of overtightened nosebands on competition horses. Current rules are often vague—e.g., “nosebands may never be so tightly fixed as to harm the horse.” To investigate the need and acceptance prior to any rule changes Equestrian Canada (EC) launched a pilot noseband measuring project. Nineteen officiating stewards measured noseband fit using the ISES taper gauge (TG) at 32 equestrian events of various disciplines in 2021. Additionally, stakeholder surveys collected data from 1528 EC members and 27 stewards regarding opinions and perceptions on noseband use, fit, measurement and rules. Descriptive and qualitative statistics along with Pearson chi-squared examined relationships between specific variables. Of the 551 horses tested with the TG, 71% passed the 1.5 cm (two-fingers) measurement and an additional 19% passed the 1 cm (one-finger) measurement. Stewards unanimously agreed that overtightened nosebands present a welfare issue although 63% believed this to represent only a small subset of riders. While 60% of stewards believed the current rules were sufficient, 40% did not. Despite the fact that 84% of stewards believe there should be a standardized fit across disciplines, 52% felt the use of the TG should be at their discretion. The top three reasons riders indicated for using nosebands were discipline expectation (41%), requirement for competition (39%) or for control/safety (32%). Open comments referred to an option to not wear a noseband in competition. Professional riders believed overtightened nosebands were less of a welfare issue than amateur riders (76% vs. 88% respectively; p < 0.025) and correspondingly did not feel the TG was a fair method (44% vs. 68% respectively; p < 0.001). Slightly more than half of the respondents (51.5%) believed that measuring noseband fit on the frontal nasal plane was the appropriate location. To advance equestrian practice, more education is needed to inform stakeholders of the reasons for noseband measurements and appropriate fit.
... prospective study of 84 Pony Club horses in Australia followed over one year, bucking was described as a potentially dangerous behaviour, but the frequency of occurrence was not recorded (Buckley et al. 2013). In a prospective observational study of a convenience sample of 193 sports and leisure horses, in regular work and presumed by their owners to be working comfortably, which were observed during mounting and ridden exercise on a single occasion, two horses pronked repeatedly when moving off after mounting (Dyson et al. 2021). In a subset of 148 of these horses with video footage available for retrospective analysis of ridden performance, bucking was observed in one horse (0.7%). ...
... Bucking in ridden horses forwards after each tightening and also observing the horse's behaviour (Dyson et al. 2021). It becomes a judgement call about whether or not a horse is safe to ride, based on the history of the horse, the skill of the usual rider and the availability of a skilled professional rider who is willing and competent to ride a bucking horse. ...
Article
Bucking behaviour in horses is potentially dangerous to riders. There is limited information about how bucking behaviour should be investigated by veterinarians. The objectives of this article are to define bucking behaviour, to review the literature relating to bucking and allied behaviours in horses and describe personal observations and to describe an approach to clinical investigation and management strategies. A literature review from 2000 to 2020 was performed via search engines and additional free searches. A buck is an upward leap, usually in addition to forward propulsion, when either both hindlimbs or all four limbs are off the ground with the thoracolumbosacral region raised. Bucking often occurs as a series of such leaps and different manifestations include ‘pronking’, ‘bronking’ and ‘fly bucking’. Causes include excitement, exuberance, defensive behaviour associated with fear, learned behaviour through negative reinforcement or a reaction to musculoskeletal pain. Specific causes of pain include an ill‐fitting saddle or girth, thoracolumbar pain, girth region pain, sternal or rib injury, neuropathic pain, sacroiliac joint region pain, referred pain and primary hindlimb lameness. Any of these may be compounded by a rider who is fearful, poorly balanced or crooked. Determination of the underlying cause requires a comprehensive clinical assessment, including assessment of saddle fit for horse and rider and suitability of the horse–rider combination. In some horses, identification of a primary source of pain allows targeted treatment and resolution of pain, but careful retraining is crucial. An understanding of learning behaviour is required for successful rehabilitation. It was concluded that identification of the cause of bucking may enable treatment of primary pain which, when combined with retraining, results in management of bucking behaviour. However, in a minority of horses, dangerous bucking behaviour cannot be reliably resolved, requiring retirement or euthanasia of the horse.
... Objective assessment of acute pain in equids has been studied extensively in the last few decades [7][8][9], and both composite and facial expression-based pain scales have proven useful in horses with different types of acute pain [6,10]. Pain assessment has also been described in ridden horses [11] and in horses during tacking-up and mounting [12]. Moreover, in donkeys, a recent study has shown that composite and facial expression-based pain scales can be successfully used [13]. ...
Article
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The objective assessment of chronic pain is of utmost importance for improving welfare and quality of life in horses. Freedom from disease and pain is one of the ‘five freedoms’ that are necessary for animal welfare. The aim of this study was to develop a pain scale for the assessment of chronic pain in horses (Horse Chronic Pain Scale; HCPS), which is based on behavioural and facial expressions. The scale was used to assess 53 horses (26 horses diagnosed with chronic painful conditions by means of clinical examination and additional diagnostic procedures (consisting of osteoarthritis, chronic laminitis, chronic back and neck problems, chronic dental disorders) and 27 healthy control animals). Animals were assessed once daily for three consecutive days by two observers that were blinded to the condition of the animals and were unaware of any analgesic treatment regimens. The HCPS consists of two parts, the Horse Chronic Pain Composite Pain Scale (HCP CPS, with behavioural parameters) and the EQUUS-FAP (Equine Utrecht University Scale for Facial Assessment of Pain). The HCP CPS had good inter-observer reliability (intraclass correlation coefficient (ICC) = 0.84, p < 0.001), while the EQUUS-FAP component (with facial expression-based parameters) had poor inter-observer reliability (ICC = 0.45, p < 0.05). The inter-observer reliability of the combined HCPS was good (ICC = 0.78, p < 0.001). The HCPS revealed significant differences between horses with chronic painful conditions and control horses on 2 out of 3 days (p < 0.05). In conclusion, we tested a composite pain scale for the assessment of chronic pain in horses based on behavioural and facial expression-based parameters. Further studies are needed to validate this pain scale before it can be used in practice.
... It must also be recognised that oral, ocular or visceral pain (for example equine gastric ulcer syndrome) can contribute to pain in ridden horses and result in alterations in behaviour (Kjaerulff and Lindegaard 2020). However, it must also be borne in mind that gastric ulceration may develop secondary to chronic musculoskeletal pain and resolution of the ulcers may not improve ridden horse behaviour (Dyson et al. 2021). ...
Article
The Ridden Horse Pain Ethogram (RHpE) comprises 24 behaviours, the majority of which are at least 10 times more likely to be seen in lame horses compared with non‐lame horses. The observation of ≥8/24 behaviours is likely to reflect the presence of musculoskeletal pain, although some lame horses score <8/24 behaviours. A marked reduction in RHpE scores after resolution of lameness using diagnostic anaesthesia proves a causal relationship between pain and RHpE scores. Horses should be assessed for approximately 10 min in walk, trot (including 10 m diameter circles), canter and transitions. The validity of the RHpE has been verified for use in horses which perform dressage‐type movements, and which have been trained to work with the front of the head in a vertical position. It has not, as yet, been used in horses while jumping, racehorses, western performance or endurance horses. The RHpE provides a valuable tool for riders, trainers, veterinarians and other equine professionals to recognise the presence of musculoskeletal pain, even if overt lameness cannot be recognised. Riders with a higher skill‐level may improve gait quality, but cannot obscure behavioural signs of pain, although specific behaviours may change. Tight saddle tree points, the rider sitting on the caudal third of the saddle and rider weight may influence RHpE scores. Accurate application of the RHpE requires training and practice. The RHpE is a powerful tool for the assessment of ridden horses and the identification of likely musculoskeletal pain. Such pain merits further investigation and treatment, to improve equine welfare and performance. The RHpE provides an additional means of evaluating the response to diagnostic anaesthesia. It provides a mechanism for client education and a diplomatic way of communicating with clients about equine discomfort related to saddle‐fit, rider size, their position in the saddle and ability to ride in balance.
Article
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Across the globe, the welfare of sport horses is of growing concern, prompting the International Equestrian Federation (FEI) to state that at all times the welfare of the horse must be paramount. Expressions of discomfort or pain are nevertheless frequently overlooked or misunderstood, and warrant the development of objective welfare assessment methods for the ridden horse which can be applied during training and competitions. The recent ‘Ridden Horse pain Ethogram’ (RHpE) (Dyson et al., 2018, J. Vet. Behav. 23, 47-57) seeks to identify pain in horses based on their behavior while ridden. The ethogram includes 24 behaviors and it has been proposed that the presence of eight or more of the 24 behaviors is likely to reflect musculoskeletal pain. Behavior-based pain scales hold promise as a means to improve the welfare of the ridden horse. That said, it is important to recognize that, as a pain or lameness diagnostic tool, the RHpE is still in its infancy because, as we point out in this review, there are a number of aspects that require further qualification before it can be applied with confidence. It is therefore proposed here that the work achieved so far by the RHpE can be of value for observers to recognize that these behaviors may indicate pain but as a diagnostic tool, the RHpE requires further development. Our evaluation of the RHpE is that it is impaired by some flaws in the definitions and that an interdisciplinary approach with substantial ethological input will greatly improve its accuracy and utility. In addition, there is a risk in applying an accumulative clinical threshold when all of the items within an ethogram are assigned equal weighting without an evidence-base for such weighting. Apart from pain and lameness, many other aspects of riding can contribute to suboptimal welfare in the ridden horse and result in the same behaviors highlighted in the RHpE. While recognizing that the RHpE may help to rule in or out problems on the differential diagnosis list and that it has not been proposed as a standalone technique, we see a risk in it being adopted without further development. Public acceptance of future use of horses for elite sports likely depends on whether the international and national riding federations can provide credible, objective evidence that horse welfare is truly paramount at all times.
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A Ridden Horse Pain Ethogram (RHpE) comprising 24 behaviours has been developed to facilitate the identification of musculoskeletal pain. The aim was to further test the RHpE by its application to a convenience sample (n = 60) of sports horses and riding school horses in regular work and assumed by their owners to be working comfortably. All horses performed a purpose-designed dressage-type test of 8.5 min duration in walk, trot and canter, with their normal rider. The RHpE was applied retrospectively to video recordings acquired in a standardised fashion. Seventy-three percent of horses were lame (≤ grade 2/8) on one or more limbs; 47% had gait abnormalities in canter. Ridden Horse Pain Ethogram scores ranged from 3 to 16/24 (median 9); rider skill score ranged from 2.5 to 8/10 (median 4.75). The effect of horse age, breed, sex, work-discipline, epaxial muscle hypertonicity or pain, an ill-fitting saddle, rider skill score, the presence of lameness or gait abnormalities in canter on the RHpE score was assessed using Poisson regression. Two variables were retained in the final multivariable analysis, rider skill score as a continuous variable (p < 0.001), and lameness (p = 0.008). A RHpE score ≥8 was a good indicator of the presence of musculoskeletal pain.
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This article reports on the results of a survey designed to explore the types of nosebands that owners, riders and trainers use in training and competition, their reasons for using nosebands, the design preferences in different disciplines and approaches to noseband tightness and monitoring, as well as the incidence of negative impacts related to noseband usage. Respondents (n = 3040) were asked to specify the type of noseband they were currently using and to rate how effective they were in achieving these stated reasons. Respondents who used nosebands (n = 2332) most commonly used Plain Cavesson (46.6%, n = 1087) and Hanoverian (24.8%, n = 579) nosebands. The reasons provided in the survey for noseband usage were grouped into three broad, mutually exclusive categories: Anatomical; Consequential and Passive. Responses across these categories were fairly evenly distributed overall: Anatomical (29.5%, n = 1501), Consequential (30.6%, n = 1560), Passive (32.9%, n = 1673) and other reasons (7.0%, n = 358). Across all respondents (n = 2332), the most common Anatomical reason given was to prevent the horse's tongue from moving over the bit (20.8%, n = 485), the most common Consequential reason was to improve the appearance of the horse (20.4%, n = 476), with aligning with the rules of the sport (30.2%, n = 705) the most popular Passive Animals 2020, 10, 776 2 of 20 reason. Of the respondents who answered the question of checking noseband tightness (n = 2295), most reported checking noseband tightness at the bridge of the nose (62.1%, n = 1426), some (10.4%, n = 238) reported checking for tightness on the side of the face and others under the chin (21.5%, n = 496). This survey also revealed some of the potential issues associated with noseband use, with 18.6% (n = 434) reporting at least one physical or behavioural complication. The most common complication was hair loss under the noseband (39.9%, n = 173). Crank systems were reported to be used by 28.9% (n = 665) of respondents. This is of concern as these devices can be excessively tightened, minimising jaw and tongue movement and may compromise horse welfare. Indeed, the current data in our study show that these devices are associated with an increased risk of complications being reported. Against the backdrop of potential harm to horse welfare associated with restrictive nosebands, this report may serve as a guide for future regulations and research. It helps improve our understanding of noseband preferences and their use in different disciplines.
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Identifying and monitoring pain is the foundation of optimal pain management. In addition to previously identified behavioural indicators of pain, facial expressions might be a valid parameter, adding further strength to composite pain scales in horses. The aims of this qualitative study were, to identify visible changes in facial expressions of horses experiencing induced acute pain and to determine whether the presence of an observer would influence these pain expressions. Six horses were included in the study; each horse was subjected to two different pain modalities twice, with and without an observer present. The two pain types induced were; ischemic pain, induced by application of a tourniquet and inflammatory pain, induced by topically applied capsaicin. Facial expressions indicative of pain were identified by comparing video recordings of baseline sessions with periods of induced pain. Both types of pain effectively resulted in observable differences in facial expressions, primarily observed as, 1) ears moving out of synchrony and/or resembling " lambs' ears " , 2) a tense stare and angled eye brows, 3) edged upper lip and medio-laterally widened nostrils 4) tension of the facial muscles. These pain-induced facial expressions were not influenced by the presence of the observer, although other pain behaviours were intensified or suppressed by some of the horses. The present study clearly identified facial expressions indicative of pain in horses. These expressions might prove valuable in future development of composite pain scores for use in horses. Further work is required to determine whether these facial expressions are quantifiable and consistently present in all pain types and intensities.
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Restrictive nosebands are common in equestrian sport. This is concerning, as recent evidence suggests that very tight nosebands can cause a physiological stress response, and may compromise welfare. The objective of the current study was to investigate relationships that noseband tightness has with oral behavior and with physiological changes that indicate a stress response, such as increases in eye temperature (measured with infrared thermography) and heart rate and decreases in heart rate variability (HRV). Horses (n = 12) wearing a double bridle and crank noseband, as is common in dressage at elite levels, were randomly assigned to four treatments: unfastened noseband (UN), conventional area under noseband (CAUN) with two fingers of space available under the noseband, half conventional area under noseband (HCAUN) with one finger of space under the noseband, and no area under the noseband (NAUN). During the tightest treatment (NAUN), horse heart rate increased (P = 0.003), HRV decreased (P < 0.001), and eye temperature increased (P = 0.011) compared with baseline readings, indicating a physiological stress response. The behavioral results suggest some effects from bits alone but the chief findings are the physiological readings that reflect responses to the nosebands at their tightest. Chewing decreased during the HCAUN (P < 0.001) and NAUN (P < 0.001) treatments. Yawning rates were negligible in all treatments. Similarly, licking was eliminated by the NAUN treatment. Following the removal of the noseband and double bridle during the recovery session, yawning (P = 0.015), swallowing (P = 0.003), and licking (P < 0.001) significantly increased compared with baseline, indicating a post-inhibitory rebound response. This suggests a rise in motivation to perform these behaviors and implies that their inhibition may place horses in a state of deprivation. It is evident that a very tight noseband can cause physiological stress responses and inhibit the expression of oral behaviors.
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Although recognition of equine pain has been studied extensively over the past decades there is still need for improvement in objective identification of pain in horses with acute colic. This study describes scale construction and clinical applicability of the Equine Utrecht University Scale for Composite Pain Assessment (EQUUS-COMPASS) and the Equine Utrecht University Scale for Facial Assessment of Pain (EQUUS-FAP) in horses with acute colic. A cohort follow-up study was performed using 50 adult horses (n = 25 with acute colic, n = 25 controls). Composite pain scores were assessed by direct observations, Visual Analog Scale (VAS) scores were assessed from video clips. Colic patients were assessed at arrival, and on the first and second mornings after arrival. Both the EQUUS-COMPASS and EQUUS-FAP scores showed high inter-observer reliability (ICC = 0.98 for EQUUS-COMPASS, ICC = 0.93 for EQUUS-FAP, P <0.001), while a moderate inter-observer reliability for the VAS scores was found (ICC = 0.63, P <0.001). The cut-off value for differentiation between healthy and colic horses for the EQUUS-COMPASS was 5, and for differentiation between conservatively treated and surgically treated or euthanased patients it was 11. For the EQUUS-FAP, cut-off values were 4 and 6, respectively. Internal sensitivity and specificity were good for both EQUUS-COMPASS (sensitivity 95.8%, specificity 84.0%) and EQUUS-FAP (sensitivity 87.5%, specificity 88.0%). The use of the EQUUS-COMPASS and EQUUS-FAP enabled repeated and objective scoring of pain in horses with acute colic. A follow-up study with new patients and control animals will be performed to further validate the constructed scales that are described in this study.
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Lungeing is commonly used as part of standard lameness examinations in horses. Knowledge of how lungeing influences the motion symmetry in sound horses is needed. The aim of this study was to objectively evaluate the symmetry of vertical head and pelvic motion during lungeing in a large number of horses with symmetric motion during straight-line evaluation. Cross-sectional prospective study. A pool of 201 riding horses, all functioning well and considered sound by their owners, were evaluated in trot on a straight line and during lungeing to the left and right. From this pool, horses with symmetric vertical head and pelvic movement during the straight line trot (n = 94) were retained for analysis. Vertical head and pelvic movements were measured with body-mounted uni-axial accelerometers. Differences between vertical maximum and minimum head (HDmax, HDmin) and pelvic (PDmax, PDmin) heights between left and right forelimb and hindlimb stances were compared between straight line trot and lungeing in either direction. Vertical head and pelvic movements during lungeing were more asymmetric than during trot on a straight line. Common asymmetric patterns seen in the head were more upward movement during push off of the outside forelimb and less downward movement during impact of the inside limb. Common asymmetric patterns seen in the pelvis were less upward movement during push off of the outside hindlimb and less downward movement of the pelvis during impact of the inside hindlimb. Asymmetric patterns in one lunge direction were frequently not the same as in the opposite direction. Lungeing induces systematic asymmetries in vertical head and pelvic motion pattern in horses that may not be the same in both directions. These asymmetries may mask or mimic forelimb or hindlimb lameness. This article is protected by copyright. All rights reserved. This article is protected by copyright. All rights reserved.
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Objective The objective of this study was to investigate the existence of an equine pain face and to describe this in detail.Study designSemi-randomized, controlled, crossover trial.AnimalsSix adult horses.Methods Pain was induced with two noxious stimuli, a tourniquet on the antebrachium and topical application of capsaicin. All horses participated in two control trials and received both noxious stimuli twice, once with and once without an observer present. During all sessions their pain state was scored. The horses were filmed and the close-up video recordings of the faces were analysed for alterations in behaviour and facial expressions. Still images from the trials were evaluated for the presence of each of the specific pain face features identified from the video analysis.ResultsBoth noxious challenges were effective in producing a pain response resulting in significantly increased pain scores. Alterations in facial expressions were observed in all horses during all noxious stimulations. The number of pain face features present on the still images from the noxious challenges were significantly higher than for the control trial (p = 0.0001). Facial expressions representative for control and pain trials were condensed into explanatory illustrations. During pain sessions with an observer present, the horses increased their contact-seeking behavior.Conclusions and clinical relevanceAn equine pain face comprising ‘low’ and/or ‘asymmetrical’ ears, an angled appearance of the eyes, a withdrawn and/or tense stare, mediolaterally dilated nostrils and tension of the lips, chin and certain facial muscles expressions can be recognized in horses during induced acute pain. This description of an equine pain face may be useful for improving tools for pain recognition in horses with mild to moderate pain.
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The assessment of pain is critical for the welfare of horses, in particular when pain is induced by common management procedures such as castration. Existing pain assessment methods have several limitations, which reduce the applicability in everyday life. Assessment of facial expression changes, as a novel means of pain scoring, may offer numerous advantages and overcome some of these limitations. The objective of this study was to develop and validate a standardised pain scale based on facial expressions in horses (Horse Grimace Scale [HGS]). Forty stallions were assigned to one of two treatments and all animals underwent routine surgical castration under general anaesthesia. Group A (n = 19) received a single injection of Flunixin immediately before anaesthesia. Group B (n = 21) received Flunixin immediately before anaesthesia and then again, as an oral administration, six hours after the surgery. In addition, six horses were used as anaesthesia controls (C). These animals underwent non-invasive, indolent procedures, received the same treatment as group A, but did not undergo surgical procedures that could be accompanied with surgical pain. Changes in behaviour, composite pain scale (CPS) scores and horse grimace scale (HGS) scores were assessed before and 8-hours post-procedure. Only horses undergoing castration (Groups A and B) showed significantly greater HGS and CPS scores at 8-hours post compared to pre operatively. Further, maintenance behaviours such as explorative behaviour and alertness were also reduced. No difference was observed between the two analgesic treatment groups. The Horse Grimace Scale potentially offers an effective and reliable method of assessing pain following routine castration in horses. However, auxiliary studies are required to evaluate different painful conditions and analgesic schedules.
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Determinants of yawning are still uncertain. As yawning seems to be triggered by stress and emotional contexts, we investigated specific correlates of yawning and stereotypic behaviours in horses. Study 1 investigated correlations in time between yawning and stereotypic behaviour in stereotypic horses from the same facility; study 2, involving riding school horses, investigated the cooccurrence of yawning and stereotypic behaviour at the individual level and in response to environmental factors (feeding time). Results showed that (1) stereotypic horses yawned more than the nonstereotypic horses, (2) yawning increased at the same time periods as stereotypic behaviours did, and (3) yawning frequency was positively correlated with stereotypic behaviour frequencies (study1). Different hypotheses are discussed: direct/indirect causal relationship and other factors susceptible to trigger both yawning and stereotypies. This study, underlining for the first time a cooccurrence of yawning and stereotypic behaviour, opens a promising line of investigation of this puzzling behaviour.
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Behaviour scores (BS) offer non-invasive, objective and easy to use ways of assessing welfare in animals. Their development has, however, largely focused on behavioural reactions to stressful events (often induced), and little use of physiological measures has been made to underpin and validate the behavioural measures. This study aimed to develop a physiologically validated scale of behavioural indicators of stress for the purpose of welfare assessment in stabled domestic horses. To achieve this, behavioural and physiological data were collected from 32 horses that underwent routine husbandry procedures. Principal component analysis (PCA) of the behavioural and physiological data revealed three meaningful components that were used as the basis of the scale. Analysis of video clips of the horses’ responses to the husbandry procedures was undertaken by a panel of equestrian industry professionals using a free choice profiling (FCP) methodology. These results were added to the scale along with key definitions from relevant literature. Salivary cortisol levels were significantly correlated with the BS confirming the scale was meaningful and reflected physiological stress. The scale offers an easy to use ‘tool’ for rapid, reliable non-invasive welfare assessment in horses, and reduces the need for potentially invasive physiological measures.
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The effects of riding style and various management factors on the prevalence of stereotypies and other behavioural problems among 346 mixed-breed saddle horses (phase 1) and 101 Arabian horses (phase 2) were analysed through a questionnaire answered by owners. In phase 1, the questionnaire data were partially validated through 20-min observations of 81 (23.3%) of the cases.Results indicate that horses primarily ridden in the English style were reported to be significantly more likely to display stereotypies (p
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AIthough intraclass correlation coefficients (lCCs) are commonIy used in behavioral measurement, pychometrics, and behavioral genetics, procodures available for forming inferences about ICC are not widely known. Following a review of the distinction between various forms of the ICC, this article presents procedures available for calculating confidence intervals and conducting tests on ICCs developed using data from one-way and two-way random and mixed-efFect analysis of variance models. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2012 APA, all rights reserved)
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This study investigated intra-oral behaviours in horses wearing different bits with and without rein tension. Six riding horses wore a bridle and three bits: jointed snaffle, KK Ultra and Myler comfort snaffle. Lateral fluoroscopic images (30 Hz) were recorded for 20 s for each bit with loose reins and with 25 ± 5 N bilateral rein tension. The videos were analysed to determine time spent in the following behaviours: mouth quiet, gently mouthing the bit, retracting the tongue, bulging the dorsum of the tongue over the bit, lifting the bit and other behaviours that were performed infrequently. Repeated-measures ANOVA indicated that behaviours did not differ between bits, so bit type was not predictive of behaviour, but there were significant effects of horse and rein tension. Horses spent less time quiet and more time mouthing the bit, retracting the tongue and bulging the tongue over the bit when tension was applied.
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Recent reviews question current animal models of depression and emphasise the need for ethological models of mood disorders based on animals living under natural conditions. Domestic horses encounter chronic stress, including potential stress at work, which can induce behavioural disorders (e.g. "apathy"). Our pioneering study evaluated the potential of domestic horses in their usual environment to become an ethological model of depression by testing this models' face validity (i.e. behavioural similarity with descriptions of human depressive states). We observed the spontaneous behaviour of 59 working horses in their home environment, focusing on immobility bouts of apparent unresponsiveness when horses displayed an atypical posture (termed withdrawn hereafter), evaluated their responsiveness to their environment and their anxiety levels, and analysed cortisol levels. Twenty-four percent of the horses presented the withdrawn posture, also characterized by gaze, head and ears fixity, a profile that suggests a spontaneous expression of "behavioural despair". When compared with control "non-withdrawn" horses from the same stable, withdrawn horses appeared more indifferent to environmental stimuli in their home environment but reacted more emotionally in more challenging situations. They exhibited lower plasma cortisol levels. Withdrawn horses all belonged to the same breed and females were over-represented. Horse might be a useful potential candidate for an animal model of depression. Face validity of this model appeared good, and potential genetic input and high prevalence of these disorders in females add to the convergence. At a time when current animal models of depression are questioned and the need for novel models is expressed, this study suggests that novel models and biomarkers could emerge from ethological approaches in home environments.
Chapter
This book is comprised of 11 chapters generally discussing different perspectives of stereotypic behaviour in man and animals. The chapters are divided into 3 parts (normal animal and abnormal environment, stereotypic behaviours as pathologies and treating stereotypic behaviours). The first chapter reviews the extent and nature of research into stereotypic behaviour. Chapters 2-4 (part I) focus on the ethological perspective. Behaviour is discussed, including stereotypies, in terms of its motivated basis (stereotyping subjects are normal animals responding in species-typical ways to an abnormal environment). Chapters 5-8 (part II) emphasize clinical psychology, psychiatry and neuroscience. Three assumptions are presented: stereotypies of focus are the products of dysfunction (animal is abnormal); fullest understanding of stereotypies will come from investigating the neurophysiological mechanisms involved; and processes involved at this level have great cross-species generality. Part III (chapter 9 and 10) illustrates how stereotypies can be tackled and reduced by those concerned about their unaesthetic appearance and/or welfare implications. Chapter 11 provides a synthesis of the book and future research and suggestions on how terminology can be improved.
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A Ridden‐Horse‐Ethogram has been developed to differentiate between nonlame and lame horses, and lame horses before and after diagnostic analgesia has abolished musculoskeletal pain, based on video recordings. The objective of this prospective, observational study was to compare real‐time application of the Ridden‐Horse‐Ethogram with analysis of video recordings of the horses by a trained assessor and to determine whether veterinarians, after preliminary training, could apply the ethogram in real time in a consistent way and in agreement with an experienced assessor. Ten equine veterinarians (after preliminary training) and an experienced assessor applied the ethogram to 20 horse‐rider combinations performing a purpose‐designed dressage test (8.5 min). The horses were a convenience sample, in regular work, and capable of working ‘on the bit’. Video recordings of the test were analysed retrospectively by the experienced assessor. Lameness or abnormalities of canter, saddle fit, the presence of epaxial muscle tension/pain and rider skill level were determined by independent experts. The results were that 16 horses were lame; 11 had an ill‐fitting saddle; 14 had epaxial muscle tension/pain. The expert determined total scores of 3‐6/24 for the nonlame horses; two lame horses scored 3 and 6; 14 lame horses scored 8–16. There was no significant difference in real‐time scores and video‐based scores for the experienced assessor. There was good agreement between the expert's scores and the mean test observer scores. There was excellent consistency in overall agreement among raters (Intraclass correlation 0.97, P<0.001). There was a significant difference between ethogram scores according to lameness status for real‐time (P = 0.017) and video (P = 0.013) observations by the experienced assessor and for the test observers’ mean (P = 0.03). There was no effect of muscle pain, saddle fit or rider skill on behaviour. It was concluded that the ethogram was applied consistently by veterinarians with differentiation between nonlame and most lame horses. After appropriate training in its application, the ethogram may provide a useful tool for determining the presence of musculoskeletal pain in horses performing poorly.
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The use of horses in competitive sports receives increasing criticism from the public, mainly due to the potential for injury. However, it is unclear if orthopaedic and other health issues are more common in competition horses when compared to leisure horses. The aim of this study was to assess husbandry, use, and orthodpeadic health in Swiss riding horses, and to compare these aspects between horses owned by self-identified competitive (CR) and leisure riders (LR) in Switzerland. 237 owners completed an online survey providing information on their athletic ambitions, their horse’s husbandry, health, training, and tack. Two experienced veterinarians assessed gait irregularities, muscular development, and back pain in the horses, and evaluated saddle fit. Compared to horses owned by competitive riders (CH), a higher proportion of horses kept by leisure riders (LH) were kept unshod, under more natural conditions, and turned out with other horses. LH were exercised less frequently and LR trained less frequently with instructors. CR reported more frequent saddle checks and the use of more training aids during riding. No differences between the two groups could be found in orthopaedic health, muscular development, or back pain, but LH had higher BCSs and a slightly higher proportion of saddles with at least one fit problem. Our data revealed no increased prevalence of the assessed health problems in competition horses compared to leisure horses in Switzerland. However, suboptimal saddle fit and muscular development, back pain, and gait irregularity are frequent in both groups and deserve more attention.
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Back pain is a significant factor for horses and is challenging for professionals to diagnose, with assessment frequently using subjective tools such as manual palpation. Reliable and valid objective measures are required and use of a pressure algometer (PA) has been investigated as an assessment tool; however, it has limitations, and other more realistic methods may be better suited for the task. The aim of the study was to establish inter- and intra-rater reliability for PA, FlexiForce Sensor (FFS), and manual palpation for equine epaxial soft tissue, measuring mechanical nociception threshold responses. In group 1, 10 horses underwent three repeated tests with PA and FFS, and once for manual palpation, with three Association of Chartered Physiotherapists in Animal Therapy (ACPAT) Chartered Physiotherapists in the right thoracic epaxial region. Group 2 followed the same protocol using one ACPAT Chartered Physiotherapist and 22 horses. The order of palpation was randomly applied for each test and each experimenter. Manual palpation showed excellent interrater reliability with no significant differences between scores (P = .64; intraclass correlation coefficient [ICC] 90.0%). PA (P = .002) and FFS (P = .025) scores significantly differed between experimenters. Intrarater testing showed significant differences (P = .014) with horses increasing sensitivity over repeated PA measures. The FFS showed no significant differences (P = .347; ICC 94.7%) in repeated measures with excellent reliability and consistency. The PA showed a lack of consistency in intrarater reliability conflicting with previous research findings, whereas the FFS showed greater reliability in comparison; however, it proved difficult to use in clinical practice. Manual palpation by physiotherapists was shown to have excellent interrater reliability when using a categorical scoring system.
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Girth aversion or girthiness is a nonspecific clinical sign anecdotally associated with multiple conditions in the horse (behavioral problems, gastric ulcers, back pain); however, studies have not been conducted to definitively correlate this clinical sign to specific pathologies. This retrospective study aims to describe the clinical signs and final diagnoses of 37 horses evaluated at the University of California, Davis with a presenting complaint of girthiness. Medical records of all horses presented to the veterinary hospital between 2004 and 2016 for girthiness were reviewed. Twelve horses were diagnosed with gastric ulceration, 10 with various orthopedic problems, 3 with ill-fitting saddles, 1 with reproductive tract neoplasia, and 10 with various diseases including liver abscessation, vena cava aneurism, sternum pain, and urinary tract infection. Identifying the exact cause of girthiness remains a challenge; however, gastric ulcers was a common finding; therefore, a clinical examination should be oriented to further investigate this condition because 92% of gastroscoped horses in this study were diagnosed with gastric ulcers.
Article
Identification of low‐grade lameness is challenging. A whole horse ridden ethogram has been developed, describing 24 behavioural markers. Previous work indicated that the presence of ≥8 behavioural markers was likely to reflect musculoskeletal pain. The objectives of this repeated measures study were to compare the results of application of the ridden‐horse ethogram by trained and untrained assessors to horses before and after musculoskeletal pain had been substantially improved using diagnostic analgesia, and to assess the repeatability of the ethogram application among untrained assessors, and to compare their performance with a trained assessor. All horses underwent a comprehensive lameness investigation. Anonymised video recordings of 21 lame horses, ridden by professional riders in trot and canter before and after diagnostic analgesia had abolished lameness, were reviewed in a random order by a trained assessor and 10 untrained assessors. For each horse the duration of the recordings before and after diagnostic analgesia was time matched. The most frequent lameness grade was 2/8 (range 1–4). For the trained assessor, the number of behaviours exhibited by lame horses before diagnostic analgesia ranged from 3–12/24 (median 10; mean 8.9). After lameness and overall performance had been substantially improved using diagnostic analgesia, the number of behaviours ranged from 0–6/24 (median 3; mean 3.0). The decrease in behaviour scores for all assessors after diagnostic analgesia was highly significant (Z = 20,147, P<0.0001). Agreement between the trained assessor and untrained assessors was moderate before diagnostic analgesia and non‐existent after analgesia (Fleiss Kappa 0.49, 0 respectively), when individual behaviours were assessed. The main limitation was that horses were anonymised, but it was impossible to blind their identity, so bias is possible. It was concluded that despite limitations in the agreement between untrained observers and the trained assessor, the ethogram is a potentially valuable tool for determining the presence of musculoskeletal pain and may be useful for longitudinal monitoring of improvement in lameness.
Article
Differentiation between alteration in behavior which is the result of pain and that reflecting other behavior is potentially challenging in ridden horses. A ridden horse ethogram has been developed, tested, and combined with a pain score. Nonlame horses generally had lower pain scores than lame horses, although there was a small overlap. To determine if the ethogram could be used to differentiate lame horses before and after diagnostic analgesia had substantially improved lameness, and to verify its use in comparison of nonlame and lame horses, a retrospective study was done. Video recordings of 10 lame horses were reviewed by a trained assessor before and after diagnostic analgesia resolved the baseline lameness and improved any gait abnormalities seen in canter. The ridden horse ethogram was applied to each horse under each circumstance that it was ridden. Occurrence (yes/no) for each of 24 behaviors was recorded. Data were combined with that of an additional 13 nonlame horses and 24 lame horses. After abolition of lameness, the total sum score of behaviors (P < 0.01), sum of facial (P < 0.05), sum of body (P < 0.05), and sum of gait (P < 0.05) scores were all significantly reduced. Fifteen behavioral markers occurred significantly more often in lame horses (P values 0.00–0.05), and an additional 4 markers were only seen in lame horses. For pooled data, all sum markers were significantly higher in lame horses compared with nonlame horses or after resolution of lameness (P < 0.05). The length of the video recordings was not standardized among horses, nor before and after diagnostic analgesia. It was not possible to hide the presence of lameness which could have biased the assessor. Application of the ridden horse ethogram was able to differentiate between lame horses before and after diagnostic analgesia and nonlame and lame horses, although there was some overlap.
Article
There is evidence that more than 47% of the sports horse population in normal work may be lame, but the lameness is not recognized by owners or trainers. An alternative means of detecting pain may be recognition of behavioral changes in ridden horses. It has been demonstrated that there are differences in facial expressions in nonlame and lame horses. The purpose of this study was to develop a whole horse ethogram for ridden horses and to determine whether it could be applied repeatedly by 1 observer (repeatability study, 9 horses) and if, by application of a related pain behavior score, lame horses (n = 24) and nonlame horses (n = 13) could be differentiated. It was hypothesized that there would be some overlap in pain behavior scores among nonlame and lame horses; and that overall, nonlame horses would have a lower pain behavior score than lame horses. The ethogram was developed with 117 behavioral markers, and the horses were graded twice in random order by a trained specialist using video footage. Overall, there was a good correlation between the 2 assessments (P < 0.001; R² = 0.91). Behavioral markers that were not consistent across the 2 assessments were omitted, reducing the ethogram to 70 markers. The modified ethogram was applied to video recordings of the nonlame horses and lame horses (ethogram evaluation). There was a strong correlation between 20 behavioral markers and the presence of lameness. The ethogram was subsequently simplified to 24 behavioral markers, by the amalgamation of similar behaviors which scored similarly and by omission of markers which showed unreliable results in relation to lameness. Following this, the maximum individual occurrence score for lame horses was 14 (out of 24 possible markers), with a median and mean score of 9 (±2 standard deviation) compared with a maximum score of 6 for nonlame horses, with a median and mean score of 2 (±1.4). For lame horses, the following behaviors occurred significantly more (P < 0.05, chi-square): ears back, mouth opening, tongue out, change in eye posture and expression, going above the bit, head tossing, tilting the head, unwillingness to go, crookedness, hurrying, changing gait spontaneously, poor quality canter, resisting, and stumbling and toe dragging. Recognition of these features as potential indicators of musculoskeletal pain may enable earlier recognition of lameness and avoidance of punishment-based training. Further research is necessary to verify this new ethogram for assessment of pain in ridden horses.
Book
Helping you to apply many different diagnostic tools, Diagnosis and Management of Lameness in the Horse, 2nd Edition explores both traditional treatments and alternative therapies for conditions that can cause gait abnormalities in horses. Written by an international team of authors led by Mike Ross and Sue Dyson, this resource describes equine sporting activities and specific lameness conditions in major sport horse types. It emphasizes accurate and systematic observation and clinical examination, with in-depth descriptions of diagnostic analgesia, radiography, ultrasonography, nuclear scintigraphy, magnetic resonance imaging, computed tomography, thermography, and surgical endoscopy. Broader in scope than any other book of its kind, this edition includes a companion website with 47 narrated video clips demonstrating common forelimb and hindlimb lameness as well as gait abnormalities.
Article
Poor performance in horses is often attributed to rider or training problems or behavioural abnormalities. Riders often fail to recognise lameness. We need to determine if there are differences in facial expression in lame and non-lame horses when ridden, which may facilitate the identification of horses experiencing pain. A previously developed facial expression for ridden horses ethogram (FEReq) was applied blindly by a trained analyst to photographs (n=519) of the head and neck of lame (n=76) and non-lame (n=25) horses acquired during ridden schooling-type work at both trot and canter. These included images of seven lame horses acquired before (n=30 photographs) and after diagnostic analgesia had abolished lameness (n=22 photographs). A pain score (0-3; 0=normal, 1-3=abnormal) was applied to each feature in the ethogram, based on published descriptions of pain in horses. Pain scores were higher for lame horses than non-lame horses (p<0.001). Total pain score (p<0.05), total head position score (p<0.01), and total ear score (p<0.01) were reduced in lame horses after abolition of lameness. Severely ‘above the bit’, twisting the head, asymmetrical position of the bit, ear position (both ears backwards, one ear backwards and one to the side, one ear backwards and one ear forwards) and eye features (exposure of the sclera, the eye partially or completely closed, muscle tension caudal to the eye, an intense stare) were the best indicators of pain. Application of the FEReq ethogram and pain score could differentiate between lame and non-lame horses. Assessment of facial expression could potentially improve recognition of pain-related gait abnormalities in ridden horses.
Article
Many horses presumed to be sound by their riders are not. Facial expression ethograms have previously been used to describe pain-related behavior in horses, but there is a need for a ridden horse facial ethogram to facilitate identification of pain in ridden horses. The objectives of this study were to develop and test an ethogram to describe facial expressions in ridden horses and to determine whether individuals could interpret and correctly apply the ethogram, with consistency among assessors. An ethogram was developed by reference to previous publications and photographs of 150 lame and non-lame ridden horses. A training manual was created. Thirteen assessors (veterinarians of variable experience, n=4; equine technicians, n=3; equine studies graduates, n=2; amateur horse owners, n=2; equine veterinary nurse, n=1; a British Horse Society Instructor, n=1) underwent a training session and, with reference to the training manual, evaluated still lateral photographs of 27 Training heads. Features were graded as Yes, No or ‘Cannot see’ (when it was not possible to determine the presence or absence of a feature). The ethogram was adapted and, after further training, the assessors blindly evaluated 30 Test heads from non-lame and lame horses. Intra-class correlation (ICC) and free-margin Kappa tests were used to assess consensus among assessors. For the Training heads, single ICC matrix among observers resulted in an overall ICC of 0.50 (95% Confidence Intervals [CI], 0.40-0.62). Four assessors consistently scored differently from the others, with ranges of ICC of 0.20-0.50 (mean 0.41). There was no difference in assessors’ scoring related to their professional backgrounds. For the Test heads, mean inter-rater agreement among assessors was 87%. Two assessors still scored consistently differently (0.28-0.50 ICC agreement; mean 0.40) from the remaining 11 assessors (0.44-0.69 ICC agreement; mean 0.56). The mean percentage of overall agreement was 80% and the mean free-marginal Kappa value was 0.72, standard deviation (SD) ± 0.22. The large SD was the result of inconsistency in assessments of the eyes and muzzle. It was concluded that the developed ethogram could reliably be utilised to describe facial expressions of ridden horses by people from different professional backgrounds. Future work needs to determine if non-lame and lame horses can be differentiated based on application of the ethogram.
Article
A relationship between dopamine and temperament has previously been described in human cases of dopaminergic dysfunction. Adjustment in temperament prior to disease manifestation can enable the early identification of individuals at risk of such conditions, and scope exists to extend this application of temperament alterations to cases of dopaminergic dysfunction in horses. A multivariate and mixed-methods approach utilising a questionnaire along with two inferred measurements of dopamine activity (Spontaneous Blink Rate [SBR] and Behavioral Initiation Rate [BIR]) were recorded from direct observation of animals (n=99) to identify the potential relationship between dopamine and temperament in horses. Principal components analysis (PCA) of 36 temperament variables revealed nine Principal Components, including 'Anxiety' and 'Docility', which accounted for 72.4% of the total variance. Component scores were calculated and correlated with SBR and BIR utilising Spearman Rank Correlation Coefficient analysis. The component 'Anxiety' was found to have a significant positive relationship with SBR, whereas 'Docility' was observed to have a significant negative relationship with SBR. These results indicate a relationship between dopamine and temperament within the horse that is certainly worthy of further study. Potential mechanisms involving neural dopaminergic and GABAergic systems are presented, in addition to how such alterations could be utilised to probe for equine dopamine dysfunction pending future research.
Article
Horses displaying aversion to fastening of the girth may be expressing pain from myofascial trigger points (MTrPs). The location of MTrPs in the pectoral region of horses has not been previously described. The objectives of this study were: 1) to locate and map MTrPs in the transverse and ascending pectoral muscles; 2) to score the severity of the MTrPs by behavioural reaction to palpation and; 3) to look for associations between these findings and girth-aversion behaviour. Thirty-eight horses were recruited in a cross-sectional clinical study. Taut bands were identified on palpation of horses undergoing physiotherapy assessment and then scored for behavioural reaction to palpation as normal (0), mild (1), moderate (2) or severe (3) and mapped. Owner-reported history of girth-aversion behaviour was compared with the severity score using Chi-squared analysis.
Article
Objective: Intraclass correlation coefficient (ICC) is a widely used reliability index in test-retest, intrarater, and interrater reliability analyses. This article introduces the basic concept of ICC in the content of reliability analysis. Discussion for researchers: There are 10 forms of ICCs. Because each form involves distinct assumptions in their calculation and will lead to different interpretations, researchers should explicitly specify the ICC form they used in their calculation. A thorough review of the research design is needed in selecting the appropriate form of ICC to evaluate reliability. The best practice of reporting ICC should include software information, "model," "type," and "definition" selections. Discussion for readers: When coming across an article that includes ICC, readers should first check whether information about the ICC form has been reported and if an appropriate ICC form was used. Based on the 95% confident interval of the ICC estimate, values less than 0.5, between 0.5 and 0.75, between 0.75 and 0.9, and greater than 0.90 are indicative of poor, moderate, good, and excellent reliability, respectively. Conclusion: This article provides a practical guideline for clinical researchers to choose the correct form of ICC and suggests the best practice of reporting ICC parameters in scientific publications. This article also gives readers an appreciation for what to look for when coming across ICC while reading an article.
Article
Historically lameness has been evaluated in hand or on the lunge, but some lamenesses may only be apparent ridden. The objectives were to compare the response to flexion tests, movement in hand, on the lunge and ridden in sports horses in regular work, assumed to be sound by the owners. It was hypothesised that lameness may be apparent in ridden horses that was not detectable in hand or on the lunge. Fifty-seven sport horses in regular work and assumed to be sound were assessed prospectively in hand, on the lunge on both soft and firm surfaces and ridden. Flexion tests of all four limbs were performed. Lameness was graded (0-8) under each circumstance in which the horse was examined and after each flexion test.
Article
A saddle that does not fit either a horse or a rider correctly has potentially far reaching consequences for both horse and rider health. The saddle should be assessed off and on the horse, without and with a rider. The fit of the saddle for both the horse and rider must be evaluated. A well-fitted saddle should distribute weight evenly via the panels to the horse's thoracic region, with complete clearance of the spinous processes by the gullet. The saddle should remain fairly still during ridden exercise at all paces. The saddle must also fit the rider to enable them to sit in balance. Signs of an ill-fitting saddle include equine thoracolumbar pain, focal swellings under the saddle, ruffling of the hair, dry spots under the saddle immediately after exercise surrounded by sweat, and abnormal hair wear. If a saddle does not fit the rider, the rider may not be able to ride in balance with the horse, and this may induce equine thoracolumbar pain. A saddle of inappropriate size and shape for the rider may induce rider back pain, ‘hip’ pain, sores under the ‘seat bones’ and perineal injuries.
Article
The high, repetitive demands imposed on polo horses in training and competition may predispose them to musculoskeletal injuries and lameness. To quantify movement symmetry and lameness in a population of polo horses, and to investigate the existence of a relationship with age. Convenience sampled cross-sectional study. Sixty polo horses were equipped with inertial measurement units (IMUs) attached to the poll, and between the tubera sacrale. Six movement symmetry measures were calculated for vertical head and pelvic displacement during in-hand trot and compared to values for perfect symmetry, between left and right limb lame horses as well as to published thresholds for lameness. Regression lines were calculated as a function of horse age. Based on 2 different sets of published asymmetry thresholds 52 to 53% of the horses were quantified with head movement asymmetry and 27 to 50% with pelvic movement asymmetry resulting in 60 to 67% of horses classified with movement asymmetry outside published guideline values for either the forelimbs, hindlimbs or both. Neither forelimb nor hindlimb asymmetries were preferentially left or right sided, with directional asymmetry values across all horses not different from perfect symmetry and absolute values not different between left and right lame horses (p values >0.6 for all forelimb symmetry measures and >0.2 for all hindlimb symmetry measures). None of the symmetry parameters increased or decreased significantly with age. A large proportion of polo horses show gait asymmetries consistent with previously defined thresholds for lameness. These do not appear to be lateralised or associated with age. This article is protected by copyright. All rights reserved. This article is protected by copyright. All rights reserved.
Article
Major back dimension changes over time have been observed in some horses, the speed of which may be influenced by work type, skeletal maturity, nutrition and saddle fit. Currently, there are no longitudinal data quantifying changes in back dimensions. The objectives of this study were to quantify back dimension changes over time, to identify the effects of horse, saddle and rider on these dimensions, and to determine their association with season, weight, work and saddle management. A prospective, longitudinal study was performed, using stratified random sampling within a convenience sample of 104 sports horses in normal work. Thoracolumbar dimensions/symmetry were measured at predetermined sites every second month over 1 year; weight, work and saddle management changes were recorded. Descriptive statistics, and univariable and multiple mixed effects linear regression were performed to assess the association between management changes, horse-saddle-rider factors and back dimension changes.Complete data was available for 63/104 horses, including horses used for dressage (n = 26), showjumping (n = 26), eventing (n = 26) and general purpose (n = 26), with age groups 3-5 years (n = 6), 6-8 years (n = 7), 9-12 years (n = 6) and > 13 years (n = 7). There were considerable variations in back dimensions over 1 year. In the multivariable analysis, the presence of gait abnormalities at initial examination and back asymmetry were significant and had a negative effect on changes in back dimensions. Subsequent improved saddle fit, similar or increased work intensity, season (summer versus winter) and increased bodyweight retained significance, having positive effects on changes in back dimensions. In conclusion, quantifiable changes in back dimensions occur throughout the year. Saddle fit should be reassessed professionally several times a year, especially if there has been a change in work intensity.
Article
Equine gastric ulcer syndrome (EGUS) is a common condition in the horse. A series of recent articles highlighting differences in healing of squamous and glandular ulceration have reinvigorated interest in the condition. The purpose of this series of articles is to review the current thinking on EGUS with particular emphasis on the differences between diseases of the squamous and glandular mucosae. This article, the first will review the terminology, clinical signs and diagnosis of EGUS in the horse.
Article
Reasons for performing studyNo previous studies have investigated interrelationships between saddle fit/management, equine thoracolumbar asymmetries, rider and horse health. Objectives To assess associations between data obtained by clinical assessment and those provided by riders via a questionnaire. Study designClinical assessment of a convenience sample of horses and riders compared with a Web-based questionnaire survey (n = 205). Methods Horse thoracolumbar asymmetries at predetermined sites, the presence of lameness (in hand and/or ridden), saddle slip, saddle fit/management and rider straightness were assessed. Kappa statistics were used to assess the relationship between categorical clinical data and questionnaire data from riders. Spearman's correlation was used to investigate associations between outcomes from clinical assessment (horse, saddle and rider data) and information provided by riders. ResultsThere was a 40.5% (205 of 506) questionnaire response rate. Thirty horses (14.6%) had saddle slip, which was significantly associated with hindlimb lameness or gait abnormalities (P<0.001), but only 2 riders had considered a link between saddle slip and lameness. Rider back pain was common (38.5%) and associated with ill-fitting saddles (P = 0.03) and either a quadrupedally reduced cranial phase of the step or a stiff, stilted canter (P = 0.006). Well-fitted saddles were associated with frequent saddle fit checks (P = 0.004). Minor thoracolumbar asymmetries (P = 0.04) were negatively associated with ill-fitting saddles and positively associated with rider skill level (P = 0.001). Conclusions The interaction between the horse, saddle and rider is complex. Ill-fitting saddles and a stiff, stilted canter or quadrupedally reduced cranial phase of the step are associated with rider back pain. Equine back pain and minor thoracolumbar asymmetries are associated with ill-fitting saddles. Saddle fit should be checked more often than once yearly to lower the number of ill-fitting saddles. Riders, trainers and other professionals involved in equine care and performance need better education to recognise ill-fitting saddles, lameness, saddle slip and rider crookedness.
Article
Saddle slip is usually blamed on saddle fit, crooked riders or horse shape, but may reflect hindlimb lameness. There are no studies of the frequency of occurrence of saddle slip and risk factors within a tested sample population of the general sports horse population. To quantify the frequency of saddle slip and to describe the association with lameness, thoracolumbar shape/symmetry, crooked riders and ill-fitting saddles. Non-random, cross-sectional survey using convenience sampling. Five hundred and six sports horses in normal work were assessed prospectively. Thoracolumbar shape/symmetry were measured at predetermined sites; the presence of lameness (in-hand and/or ridden) and saddle slip was recorded. Descriptive statistics, univariable and multiple logistic regression were performed to assess the relationship between horse-saddle-rider factors and saddle slip. The frequency of lameness, quadrilaterally reduced cranial phase of the stride or stiff, stilted canter was 45.7%, saddle slip 12.3%, left-right thoracolumbar shape asymmetries ≥ coefficient of variance of 8% (1.2 cm) 0.6%; 103/276 riders (37.3%) sat crookedly. The saddle consistently slipped to one side in 30.3% of horses with hindlimb lameness, compared with 5.4% with forelimb lameness, 17.4% with stiff, stilted canter, 20% with quadrilaterally reduced cranial phase of stride and 5.6% non-lame horses. Nineteen horses (30.6%) with saddle slip had no detectable hindlimb lameness, however, 14 had a gait abnormality, particularly in canter. Multivariable analysis revealed that saddle slip was significantly associated with hindlimb lameness and gait abnormalities (OR = 52.62, 95% confidence interval (CI) 17.4 - 159.7), saddle fitted with even contact and uniform flocking (OR = 15.49, 95% CI 1.9 - 125.5), riders sitting crookedly (OR = 6.32, 95% CI 2.9 - 13.7), a well-balanced saddle (OR = 3.05, 95% 1.4 - 6.9), and large back shape ratio at T18 (OR = 1.2, 95% 1.1 - 1.3). Many horses with hindlimb and/or forelimb lameness go unrecognised. Saddle slip may be a sign of hindlimb lameness. Education of the equestrian population to identify lameness and saddle slip is required.
Article
The aim of the present study was to identify relations between stereotyped behaviours (cribbing, weaving and box-walking) and wood-chewing in thoroughbred flat-racing horses (TB) and standardbred trotters and the different management, feeding and training factors to which these horses are exposed. This was obtained by inquiries to all the professional trainers of TB and trottinghorses used for racing in Sweden. The usable response rates were 61% for trotters and 72% for TB representing 4597 trotters from 234 stables and 644 TB from 38 stables. A small field study was carried out to control the validity of the main study which gave results similar to those in the main study. There was a large difference between the two horse categories in the occurrence of behavioural disturbances. The TB had significantly more stereotypies than the trotters (P < 0·001) but there were no differences in the occurrence of wood-chewing. There were several differences in external factors between the horse categories, e.g. trotters had more opportunities for social contacts with other horses, they also had more free time outside the stable and they were trained a shorter time per week than the TB. The TB were given larger amounts of concentrate than the trotters. Wood-chewing within each horse category was explained by the amount of roughage (P < 0·05 in trotters and P < 0·001 in TB) together with other factors. Stereotypies in the TB were explained by: amount of concentrate (positive relation), number of horses per trainer (positive relation) and amount of roughage (negative relation).
Article
Throughout equitation history, bitted bridles have been the primary method of controlling the ridden horse. In response to health and behavioral concerns arising from the use of bitted bridles, bitless bridles offer new methods of steering and control. However, the effectiveness of bitless bridles on horses had not been previously examined scientifically. Therefore, the current study measured behavioral and cardiac responses of horses undergoing foundation training (bridling, long reining, and riding) wearing either a bitted or a bitless bridle.The horses wearing the bitted bridle exhibited more chewing, opening of the mouth, pawing the ground, and tail swishing than those in the bitless bridle. The horses wearing the bitless bridle exhibited more head lowering during long reining compared to those in the bitted bridle. The frequency of chewing, opening the mouth, and head raising decreased as training progressed. The number of steps taken after the application of the halt stimulus was greatest for the horses in the bitted bridle during long reining compared with those in the bitless bridle. During long reining, the heart rate and heart rate variability of the horses were higher for those in a bitted bridle compared with those in a bitless bridle.The results of this study suggest that horses wearing bitless bridles performed at least as well as, if not better than, those in bitted bridles. If the use of bitted bridles does cause discomfort to horses, as suggested by some, then the use of bitless bridles could be beneficial and certainly warrants further investigation.
Article
Reports 3 errors in the original article by K. O. McGraw and S. P. Wong (Psychological Methods, 1996, 1[1], 30–46). On page 39, the intraclass correlation coefficient (ICC) and r values given in Table 6 should be changed to r = .714 for each data set, ICC(C,1) = .714 for each data set, and ICC(A,1) = .720, .620, and .485 for the data in Columns 1, 2, and 3 of the table, respectively. In Table 7 (p. 41), which is used to determine confidence intervals on population values of the ICC, the procedures for obtaining the confidence intervals on ICC(A,k) need to be amended slightly. Corrected formulas are given. On pages 44–46, references to Equations A3, A,4, and so forth in the Appendix should be to Sections A3, A4, and so forth. (The following abstract of this article originally appeared in record 1996-03170-003.). Although intraclass correlation coefficients (ICCs) are commonly used in behavioral measurement, psychometrics, and behavioral genetics, procedures available for forming inferences about ICC are not widely known. Following a review of the distinction between various forms of the ICC, this article presents procedures available for calculating confidence intervals and conducting tests on ICCs developed using data from one-way and two-way random and mixed-effect analysis of variance models. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2012 APA, all rights reserved)
Article
Reasons for performing study: We have observed saddle slip consistently to one side because of a crooked rider, an ill-fitting saddle, asymmetry in a horse's thoracolumbar shape and lameness. Currently, there are no objective data to permit assessment of the relative importance of each factor. Objectives: To document the frequency of occurrence of saddle slip in horses with hindlimb lameness compared with other horses. To describe the effect of lameness characteristics and grade, the abolition of lameness by diagnostic analgesia, breed, size, thoracolumbar shape and symmetry and the rider's weight. Methods: One hundred and twenty-eight horses were assessed prospectively, and lameness and saddle slip were assigned a grade before and after diagnostic analgesia. The thoracolumbar shape and symmetry were measured objectively. In 3 horses, the force distribution and magnitude underneath the saddle were measured before and after diagnostic analgesia. Results: The saddle consistently slipped to one side in 38 of 71 horses (54%) with hindlimb lameness, compared with one of 26 horses (4%) with forelimb lameness, none of 20 (0%) with back pain and/or sacroiliac joint region pain and none of 11 sound horses (0%). The association between saddle slip and hindlimb lameness was significant (Spearman's rank correlation coefficient, ρ = 0.548, P<0.001). Diagnostic analgesia abolishing the hindlimb lameness eliminated the saddle slip in 37 of 38 horses (97%). In 2 horses, the saddle continued to slip after resolution of lameness; one horse had bilateral forelimb lameness and the other horse had concurrent hindlimb and forelimb lameness. The saddle of both these horses was asymmetrically flocked. The saddle slipped to the side of the lamer hindlimb in most horses (32 of 37 [86%]). No horse with saddle slip had significant left-right asymmetry of the back at 4 predetermined sites. Conclusions and clinical relevance: Hindlimb lameness is an important factor in inducing saddle slip. Saddle slip may be an indicator of the presence of hindlimb lameness.
Article
Stereotypies are repetitive, invariant behaviour patterns with no obvious goal or function. They seem to be restricted to captive animals, mentally ill or handicapped humans, and subjects given stimulant drugs. In this respect they are abnormal, although possibly the product of normal behavioural processes. Stereotypies are often associated with past or present sub-optimal aspects of the environment, and have been used as a welfare indicator. It has been hypothesized that stereotypies have beneficial consequences which reinforce their performance, although other means, such as positive feedback, may equally explain their persistence. Empirical evidence links them with lowered awareness of external events, and reduced arousal and distress. However, as most of this evidence is correlational it remains uncertain that the stereotypies are themselves the cause of coping. Furthermore, they are heterogeneous in source of origin, proximate causation and physical characteristics, and they change over time in important respects, becoming more readily elicited by a wider range of circumstances. Therefore the properties of one stereotypy are not necessarily those of another.