Article

The recognition of pain and learned behaviour in horses which buck

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Abstract

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.

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The quality of equine performance can be influenced by pain, whether or not that results in overt lameness. Recognition of low-grade lameness is challenging, but with careful observation there are many clues which veterinarians, riders and trainers should recognise. Riders and trainers are frequently unable or unwilling to recognise lameness or other behavioural changes that are a manifestation of pain. Work discipline, body size and conformation may be risk factors for lameness. Work surfaces may also have a role. There is an integral relationship between limb and thoracolumbosacral function. There is also an interaction between the rider and thoracolumbosacral function and health. The saddle is an interface between the rider and the horse and saddle-fit for both horse and rider is crucial for optimal thoracolumbar health and function. The tendency of a saddle to persistently slip to one side is most commonly secondary to hind limb lameness. The rider communicates with the horse via the reins and the bit. The design of the bit, its position and size influence oral comfort. Training aids such as draw reins or a Pessoa Training Aid, appropriately used may improve hind limb propulsion. However, there are still wide gaps in our knowledge about strategies to minimise the risks of injuries to the ridden horse, and a need for further research making use of technological advances in the fields of equine biomechanics with the results applied in equitation science.
Article
Equestrianism is popular worldwide, with millions of horses and riders participating in competitive horse sports and non-competitive leisure riding. Riders have a duty of care or responsibility for their horses and should aim to optimise their health and welfare. Despite this, limited research has explored the effectiveness and impact of equitation practice, equine management and training techniques on equine performance and welfare. The International Society for Equitation Science promotes enhanced equine welfare through an objective and evidence based approach to equine management and training, via education and research. This review explores the impact of the rider on equitation practice and how rider education could inform equine management and training regimens to promote health, welfare and performance. The experience of the rider will influence their riding capabilities, decision-making and their horse’s ridden performance. Matching the personality and experience of horses and riders can create a positive partnership. Riding is a physical activity; therefore rider fitness can also influence the horse’s performance and physical capacity. An unbalanced rider will not be able to give clear and consistent aids to the horse therefore affecting their behaviour when ridden. The horse will have to adapt their locomotion to account for the moving weight of the unbalanced rider which increases the physiological demands of exercise. Psychological influences can also change the way a rider interacts with their horse. Therefore the informed rider will ensure they are physically and psychologically prepared to ride. Decision making is a key part of rider responsibility. Riders, owners and keepers of horses will determine training and management regimens, which should be designed to support the workload expected of the horse. Similarly, riders should be capable of identifying potential risks of injury and be able to recognise pain and the physical representation of injury in the horse. Such knowledge should then be applied to adapt management and exercise regimes accordingly. To safeguard the horse, the responsible rider needs to be educated and informed, to make them aware of the impact of decisions they make, on their equine partner. Further research within equitation science is required to build an evidence base to support the development of educated and responsible riders. The horse-rider relationship is complex. The inability of the horse to verbalise its emotions and pain places significant responsibility on the rider to ensure that the animal’s health and welfare is optimised through informed management and riding. The responsible rider should exert a positive impact upon the horse and the partnership, applying scientific principles when training and managing their horse to promote health, welfare and performance to achieve a positive horse-rider relationship.
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.
Article
There is limited knowledge about causes of musculoskeletal injury in showjumpers. The objectives were to describe features of the turn, approach and jump in a group of experienced showjumpers believed by their riders to be sound, to relate these findings to clinical findings, and to identify features that may predispose to injury. Ten experienced showjumpers in normal competition training jumped an upright and a parallel fence four times off the left and right reins respectively, after a rider-defined period of warm-up. Real-time and high-speed motion capture was undertaken. Detailed subjective assessment of the gait was performed during the warm-up, on the turn and approach to the jump and all phases of the jump. Six horses had thoracolumbar pain or epaxial muscle tension. Six horses exhibited a poor-quality canter. The mean duration of warm-up was 7 min (range 5-10 min). All horses had lean of the trunk and hindlimbs >45° on the turn. The inside hindlimb was placed in front of the outside hindlimb in 75% of the turns. Sideways oscillations of the hocks during stance were seen in all horses on the turn and on the straight approach in five horses. The inside hindlimb had greater magnitude of oscillation than the outside hindlimb on the turns. Repeated asynchronous push-off with the hindlimbs at take-off was seen in three horses. The hindlimbs drifted to the left or right during the ascent-phase of suspension in four horses, reflecting asymmetrical push-off. Only two horses landed consistently with the correct forelimb leading relative to the direction in which the horse had to turn after the fence. Four horses landed seven (n = 2) or eight (n = 2) times each with the left (n = 2) and right (n = 2) forelimbs respectively. Repetitive overload through asymmetrical use of the left and right canter leads, inadequate warm-up, and limb instability could potentially predispose to injury.
Article
It is well known that a painful back can be responsible for loss of performance in horses. Veterinary examination of the sore back used to be limited to manual palpation with diagnosis confirmed empirically by response to treatment. Today, due to advances in imaging, there are multiple methods for evaluating the pathology of the horse's thoracolumbar (TL) spine. Radiography, ultrasonography, nuclear scintigraphy, thermography and algometry all play a part in developing a better understanding of equine TL problems. Despite this progress, definitive diagnosis can still be problematic. There is a lack of objectivity in understanding the implications of the pathology detected and its effect on the horse. It is difficult to determine the degree of pain experienced by individual horses and how that interferes with their performance and welfare. This paper emphasises the importance of a systematic clinical examination to identify the presence of pain that can be supported by recognition of pathology using a range of diagnostic aids. These will also be reviewed to assist the clinician in understanding the tools available to evaluate a horse with a sore back.
Article
In brief: In a two-year study of the estimated 13,428,000 hours of horse activities by 18,408 US Pony Clubs (USPC) members aged 6 to 21 in scheduled supervised programs, there were 64 accidents resulting in 88 injuries in 16 areas of the body. The head/face was the area most often injured (27.27%), and bruise/abrasion was the most common type of injury (28.26%). Cross-country riding was the most dangerous event (42.31%). Unexpected actions of the horse caused many accidents—25% occurred when the horse bucked and threw the rider, 23.08% when the horse refused a jump, and 17.31% when the horse fell or slipped. There were only two accidents to the most skilled riders, but riders with five or more years of experience had the highest percentage of accidents.
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
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
Lack of willingness to go forward freely, lack of power, shortened steps, stiffness of the cervical or thoracolumbosacral regions are common nonspecific signs of musculoskeletal causes of poor performance in sports horses. Understanding musculoskeletal causes of poor performance requires knowledge of how normal horses move, the requirements of specific work disciplines, the nomenclature used by riders to describe how a horse is performing and the interactions between horses and riders. Determining the underlying causes needs an in-depth history and clinical assessment, including in hand, on the lunge and ridden. Ridden exercise should include all aspects with which the rider is experiencing problems. Change of the rider can sometimes help to differentiate between horse and rider problems, but most normal horses are compliant and just because a horse goes better for a more skilled rider does not preclude an underlying pain-related condition. Lungeing and ridden exercise should include not only trot but also transitions and canter which may highlight gait abnormalities not seen at trot. An accurate history combined with thorough clinical examination of the whole horse should permit the establishment of a list of problems requiring further investigation.
Article
There has been no large-scale study of the clinical signs of sacroiliac (SI) joint region pain and its association with lameness and/or thoracolumbar pain. Horses with a positive response to infiltration of local anaesthetic solution around the SI joint regions (SI block) and/or abnormal radiopharmaceutical uptake (RU) in the region of the SI joints were included. History, clinical signs, diagnostic imaging findings, response to SI block, and concurrent lameness and/or thoracolumbar pain were recorded. Horses (n = 296) were divided into 2 groups: SI joint region pain only (Group 1, n = 43) and SI joint region pain and concurrent source(s) of pain (Group 2, n = 253). Clinical signs in Group 1 included increased tension in the longissimus dorsi muscles (40%), restricted flexibility of the thoracolumbar region (44%), trunk stiffness during exercise (61%) and poor hindlimb impulsion (56%). When ridden 65% had a poor contact with the bit, in 81% canter quality was worse than trot, and 35% bucked or kicked out with a hindlimb during canter. In both Groups 1 and 2 clinical signs were seen in a significantly greater proportion of horses during ridden work than lungeing (P<0.0001). Following SI block, 98% of horses showed dramatic improvement in clinical signs, including greater overall movement through the trunk, increased hindlimb impulsion and better quality canter. Abnormal RU in the SI joint regions was seen in 85/180 (47%) horses. Of horses with a positive response to SI block that underwent scintigraphy, only 43% had abnormal RU. Per rectum ultrasonographic examination of the SI joint region revealed abnormalities in 41/129 (32%) horses. Clinical signs of SI joint region pain are worse when horses are ridden. Sacroiliac joint region diagnostic analgesia is a useful, safe but nonspecific block. Ultrasonography and scintigraphy can provide additional information in some horses, but negative results do not preclude SI joint region pain.
Article
Horses kept in stalls are deprived of opportunities for social interactions, and the performance of natural behaviors is limited. Inadequate environmental conditions may compromise behavioral development. Initial training is a complex process and it is likely that the responses of horses may be affected by housing conditions. Sixteen 2-year-old Arabian horses were kept on pasture (P) (n=8) or in individual stalls (S) (n=8). Twelve horses (six P and six S) were subjected to a standardized training procedure, carried out by two trainers in a round pen, and 4 horses (two P and two S) were introduced to the round pen but were not trained (C; control). On sample collection day 0, 7, 21 and 28, behavior observations were carried out, blood samples were drawn and heart rates were monitored. Total training time for the stalled horses was significantly higher than total time for the pastured horses (S: 26.4±1.5 min; P: 19.7±1.1; P=0.032). The stalled group required more time to habituate to the activities occurring from the start of training to mounting (S: 11.4±0.96; P: 7.3±0.75 min; P=0.007). Frequency of unwanted behavior was higher in the stalled horses (S: 8.0±2.0; P: 2.2±1.0; P=0.020). Pastured horses tended to have higher basal heart rates on day 0 (S: 74.7±4.8; P: 81.8±5.3 bpm; P=0.0771). While the physiological data failed to identify differences between housing groups, the behavioral data suggest that pasture-kept horses adapt more easily to training than stalled horses.
Article
Horse-related injuries to riders, handlers, and veterinarians can be both serious and long-term in their effects on the victim. This review of literature covering horse-related injuries to human beings sought to identify rider and handler injury incidence and the relationships between antecedents and demographics of incidents. Review and evaluation of previously recommended prevention strategies were also undertaken.There was evidence that recent technological advances in protective equipment may have mitigated some injuries but the frequency of the incident has not changed. Despite several authors acknowledging the important role the horse played in many of the incidents, there was little specific detail about this role recorded. The emerging field of equitation science will contribute important insights that make horse-use safer by reducing the “unpredictability” aspect of horse–human interactions.
Article
This review considers some contemporary training and restraining techniques that may lead to confusion or abuse in ridden and nonridden horses. As competitive equestrian sports boom, the welfare of the horse is under increasing scrutiny. The current focus on hyperflexion of the neck in dressage warm-up has exposed the problems with relying on subjective opinions when attempting to safeguard horse welfare. The discussion also highlights an opportunity for equestrian federations to evaluate practices within the various horse sports. Our review considers numerous examples of unorthodox practices that modify locomotion and posture. It offers a scientific framework for consideration of many contentious techniques in horse sports and emphasizes the role of Equitation Science in generating evidence-based enlightenment.
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
Rollkur, the usually coercively obtained hyperflexion of the horse's neck, is employed as a training method by some dressage riders; however, its use is controversial as it may cause discomfort and adversely affect the horse's welfare. The objectives of this study were to determine: (1) if horses showed differences in stress, discomfort and fear responses as measured by heart rate and behaviour when ridden in Rollkur (R) obtained by pressure on the reins compared to regular poll flexion (i.e. with the nose-line being at or just in front of the vertical; N), and (2) if they showed a preference between the two riding styles when given the choice. Fifteen riding horses were ridden 30 times through a Y-maze randomly alternating between sides. Riding through one arm of the Y-maze was always followed by a short round ridden in R, whereas riding through the other arm was followed by a short round ridden in N. Immediately after the conditioning phase, horses were again repeatedly ridden into the maze; however, riders left it to the horse to decide which arm of the maze to enter. During R, horses moved slower and showed more often behavioural signs of discomfort, such as tail-swishing, head-tossing or attempted bucks (P
Article
Reasons for performing study: Horse misbehaviour is an important cause of poor performance in Pony Club horses, is associated with horse-related rider injuries and has been implicated as a nonspecific presenting sign for musculoskeletal pain. Despite this, little is known about the incidence of and risk factors for misbehaviour in Pony Club horses. Objective: This study aimed to describe the incidence and types of misbehaviour in a cohort of Pony Club horses and to identify risk factors for misbehaviour during riding. Methods: A prospective longitudinal study was conducted with 84 Pony Club horses from 41 families belonging to 7 Pony Clubs in one inland region of Australia. Owners recorded misbehaviour events and kept daily records of horse housing, exercise, nutrition, healthcare and disease status. Horses were subjected to a monthly veterinary examination. Descriptive statistics were calculated to describe the incidence of misbehaviour, and multivariable logistic regression was used to assess putative risk factors. Results: Misbehaviour during riding occurred on 3% of days when horses were ridden. On 52% of days with misbehaviour, the misbehaviour was classified as dangerous. Risk of misbehaviour was independently increased on exercise days when the horse was competing, and in months when the horse was fat or obese, fed supplementary feed daily, grazed on paddocks with >50% of ground cover as green grass, exercised on 5 days per month or less, and ridden for a total of 12 h or more in the month. No significant relationship was detected between misbehaviour and back pain. Conclusions: In populations such as the study population the risk of misbehaviour is higher in fatter horses, in horses with access to pastures with greater green grass cover, in those fed daily supplements, in horses receiving exercise less frequently, and during competition. Potential relevance: These results highlight the importance of considering horse body condition, nutrition and exercise in any investigation of horse misbehaviour. In addition, recommendations based on these results could be used by veterinarians assisting horse owners to prevent misbehaviour. From the perspective of recreational horse owners, behaviour is a key determinant of horse performance.
The purpose of this study was to determine whether significant differences exist in the position of a horse rider when assessed at different points in the horse's stride cycle at walk, trot and canter on the right rein. Video analysis was used to determine the absolute angles of the trunk, thigh and lower leg of five subjects during the walk, rising trot and canter. The range of movement of the trunk, thigh and lower leg during each gait was also determined. At walk significant differences in the rider's trunk angle were found between limb impacts (P<0.05). At trot significant differences were found in all angles between impacts of the horse's diagonal limb pairs (P<0.05). At canter, there were no significant differences in rider position between limb impacts. The range of movement of the trunk was 5.9°, 4.1° and 4.7° for walk, trot and canter, respectively. The corresponding ranges of the thigh and lower leg were 1.9°, 7.3° and 4.4°, and 2.9°, 5.2° and 3.9°, respectively. This preliminary study has demonstrated differences in rider posture between limb impacts in walk and trot. Further work is necessary to investigate the forces acting on the rider during each gait and the postural strategies employed by riders to maintain a balanced position. Such work is a necessary forerunner to the study of rider influence on horse performance.
Article
Reasons for performing study: UK leisure horses are owned primarily for riding. Ridden behaviour problems may compromise the use of the horse in this role and lead to harsh redress or relinquishment of the horse. Despite the consequences of these problems little is known about their prevalence or the working lives of UK leisure horses. Objectives: To generate data on the work undertaken by leisure horses, the equipment and training practices used with them and prevalence of ridden behaviour problems. Methods: An internet survey was used to generate horse-level data from a convenience sample of leisure horse carers. Respondents were asked to report on their practices in the week prior to the survey's completion to minimise recall bias. The survey was online for one year to allow for seasonal variation in practices. Data were collected on the tack and equipment used on the horse, the regularity that professional services (e.g. farriers) were used, type of training employed and frequency the owner reported that horse displayed 15 ridden behaviour problems. Results: The survey generated data on 1326 individual horses. Data describing practices relating to the horse's working life are presented. Ridden behaviour problems were reported in 91% of horses in the week preceding data collection. Conclusions and potential relevance: Descriptive data on the working lives of UK leisure horses provides valuable baseline statistics for this largest section of the UK horse population. High prevalence of owner-reported ridden behaviour problems represents a concern in such leisure horses and may indicate significant rider safety and horse welfare concerns.
Article
We report on 3 male patients aged 57, 47, and 53, who each sustained an unstable straddle injury during low-energy pelvic trauma while horseback riding. All 3 patients were haemodynamically stable; radiography revealed diastasis of the pubic symphysis in each case. In two patients, the sacroiliac joints were intact but the third patient showed widening of the right sacroiliac joint. In this patient, the pelvis was initially fixated with osteosynthesis screws and dynamic compression plates; however, arthrodesis of the right sacroiliac joint was performed due to its non-union one year after the injury. Fractures of the pelvic ring are relatively rare and are typically associated with high-energy trauma. Immediate surgical treatment is necessary for patients with fractures of the pelvic ring for the stabilisation of haemorrhagic shock, identification of soft-tissue injuries and fixation of the pelvis.
Article
Current definitions of horse personality traits are rather vague, lacking clear, universally accepted guidelines for evaluation in performance tests. Therefore, the aim of the present study was to screen behavioural and physiological measurements taken during riding for potential links with scores the same horses received in the official stallion performance test for rideability and personality traits. Behaviour, heart rate (HR) and HR variability from thirty-six stallions participating in a performance test were recorded repeatedly during their performance test training. Using the coefficient of determination, regression analysis revealed that about 1/3 of variation (ranging between r = 0.26 (“constitution” (i.e. fitness, health)) and r = 0.46 (rideability)) in the personality trait scores could be explained by selecting the three most influential behaviour patterns per trait. These behaviour patterns included stumbling (with all traits except character), head-tossing (temperament, ride- ability), tail-swishing (willingness to work), involuntary change in gait (character) and the rider’s use of her/his hands (constitution, rideability), voice (temperament) or whip (con- stitution). Subsequent mixed model analysis revealed a significant (P < 0.05) influence of the behaviour pattern “horse-induced change in gait” on character (−0.98 ± 0.31 scores per additional occurrence of change in gaits), of head-tossing (−0.25 ± 0.08 scores) and rider’s use of voice (−0.51 ± 0.25; P = 0.0594) on temperament, and of stumbling on each of the following: willingness to work (−2.5 ± 1.2), constitution (−2.5 ± 1.2 scores; P = 0.0516) and rideability scores (−3.3 ± 1.4). In addition, constitution scores tended (P = 0.0889) to increase with higher low frequency/high frequency heart rate variation ratios (LF/HF), indi- cating a shift towards sympathetic dominance and thus a higher stress load in horses with higher scores for constitution. Rideability scores from the training phase were also sig- nificantly influenced by head-tossing (−0.5 ± 0.1), and in addition rideability scores from the final test were influenced by the training rider, ranging between average estimated rideability scores of 6.8 ± 0.4 for one training rider and 8.36 ± 0.3 scores for another train- ing rider. Horses ridden with their nose-line predominantly behind the vertical received higher scores for rideability (8.3 ± 0.3) than horses ridden with their nose-line at the vertical (7.7 ± 0.2). These findings indicate that either judges perceive horses to have a better ride- ability when they readily offer a more extreme poll flexion, or that riders make use of horses’ better rideability by imposing a more extreme poll flexion. Several of the above described associations, but also of the non-existing links (e.g. no association between shying or heart rate and temperament) between behaviour patterns and scores for personality traits are rather surprising, warranting further investigation regarding the underlying causes of these relationships. Some of these behaviour patterns should be considered when redesigning the current guidelines for evaluation of personality traits during breeding horse performance tests, ultimately leading to improved genetic selection for equine personality traits. However, ethical implication of defining aversive behaviour such as head-tossing as an indicator of, for example, poor temperament should not be neglected when devising new guidelines: such aversive behaviour may in fact be an indication of inadequate training techniques rather than poor horse personality.
Article
Horses with cranial rib abnormalities may exhibit severe acute lameness and may have unusual gait deficits characterized by forelimb abduction during protraction at the walk. Horses with caudal rib abnormalities may resent being saddled and ridden. In a retrospective evaluation of 20 horses with a documented rib lesion, 25 sites of increased radiopharmaceutical uptake were found in one or more ribs. Thirteen (52%) scintigraphic lesions involved the first rib; four were located immediately dorsal to the sternal articulation, eight were near the costochondral junction and one was at the costovertebral junction. Six (24%) scintigraphic rib lesions involved ribs 2-8; one was located immediately dorsal to the sternal articulation, three were at the costovertebral junction and two were near the costochondral junction. Six (24%) scintigraphic rib lesions involved the mid-portion (five) or costovertebral junction (one) of ribs 9-18. The 20 horses were divided into three groups based on the clinical relevance of the scintigraphic findings. Group 1 (n=3) horses had clinical signs attributed to a rib abnormality; Group 2 (n=6) horses had a rib abnormality that was a plausible explanation for clinical signs; Group 3 (n=11) horses had clinical signs that could not be attributed to a rib abnormality. For horses with cranial rib abnormalities, a modified lateral scintigraphic image with the ipsilateral limb pulled caudally and a left (right) 45° caudal-right (left) radiograph facilitated the diagnosis.
Article
The transrectal ultrasonographic appearance of the lumbosacral joint was assessed in 43 horses with no history or clinical evidence of back pain or hindlimb lameness. In the majority of horses (34/43, 79.1%) the lumbosacral disc had uniform or mildly heterogeneous echogenicity. However, variation in the ultrasonographic appearance of the lumbosacral joint was also identified, including hyperechogenic regions within the lumbosacral disc with or without an acoustic shadow, and mild or moderate irregularity of the opposing surfaces of the last lumbar and the first sacral vertebral bodies. Marked irregularity of the bony surfaces or marked disruption of the lumbosacral disc was not seen in any horse. The mean distance between the ventral aspects of the last lumbar and first sacral vertebrae was 14.2 mm (range: 7.1-26.5 mm, median: 14.4 mm). The degree of protrusion of the ventral aspect of the lumbosacral disc ranged from 0 to 5 mm (mean: 1.32 mm, median: 1.2 mm). The mean angle between the ventral surfaces of the last lumbar and first sacral vertebrae was 147 degrees (range: 118-165 degrees, median: 150 degrees). There was no significant effect of age, breed, gender, or the size of the horses on either subjective findings in the lumbosacral joint or objective measurements.
Article
A saddle-horn injury of the pelvis occurs when a horse rider is thrown into the air and then falls back, with the perineum coming into contact with the saddle or saddle horn. The purpose of this study was to evaluate the characteristics and clinical outcomes, including sexual dysfunction, of this injury. We conducted a retrospective review of a consecutive series of male patients who had a saddle-horn injury of the pelvis after being bucked from a horse. Clinical and radiographic results were assessed more than eighteen months after the injury. Functional outcome measures were evaluated at the time of the latest follow-up with use of visual analog pain scales, a questionnaire addressing occupational and recreational function, the International Index of Erectile Function instrument, the Iowa pelvic score, and the Short Form-36. Twenty patients were assessed at an average of thirty-three months after the injury. Seventeen patients had returned to riding horses, and ten felt that they had returned to their previous level of recreation, which had been "heavy" in nine cases and "moderate" in one. Eighteen patients had returned to their previous employment. Eighteen patients were found to have sexual dysfunction at the time of the latest follow-up. The mean Iowa pelvic score was 84 points (range, 56 to 99 points). The Short Form-36 outcomes scores were diminished in two subsections, role physical and role emotional, compared with population norms. Mild pain can be expected after saddle-horn injury despite successful surgical treatment, and the injury does not preclude a return to previous employment or riding horses. A high proportion of men experience erectile dysfunction, which is unlikely to respond well to pharmacologic therapy.