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Equitation Science / Behaviour

You're anthropomorphising! But, is it all that bad?

April 2019

It might be a mouthful to pronounce, but anthropomorphism does not need to be hard to swallow. In this article, Dr Kirrilly Thompson moves away from a discussion about whether or not anthropomorphism is bad, to a consideration of when and how it can produce positive or negative outcomes for horses. Anthropomorphisation is, literally, the application of human (anthropos) form (morpho) to animals and is, essentially, the attribution of human characteristics to animals. Anthropomorphising is understanding animals on human terms – not their own.

The Five Domains as a framework for horse welfare assessment and monitoring

March 2019

Watch Professor Emeritus David Mellor present An understanding of the Five Domains, and explain how to use this state-of-the-art welfare assessment and monitoring framework within the domestic horse context. The presentation took place at Hahndorf, South Australia on 13th February 2019 as part of the Sport Horse Welfare and Social Licence to Operate Professional Development Event, hosted by Horse SA.

Racing and Equestrian Meet on the Common Ground of Horse Welfare

March 2019

In a ground-breaking, collaborative initiative by Horse SA, equestrian industry, business and social leaders gathered on 13th and 14th February, to discuss sport horse welfare and social licence to operate.

Sleep deprivation a risk to mental and physical health

March 2019

Sleep is essential for life. The quality and quantity of a horse’s sleep directly affects their health and well-being. However, sleep is rarely considered as part of a horse’s management plan. A new study has found that poor management or physical problems can discourage horses from lying down and this leads to horses becoming sleep deprived and at risk of serious injury. The findings were presented at the 13th International Equitation Science Conference in Rome during September 2018.

Bringing Science to the Stable: 2019 Equitation Science Conference

February 2019

Planning is well underway for the 15th Annual International Society for Equitation Science (ISES) Conference, being held at the University of Guelph, Canada’s largest agricultural university, on August 19-21, 2019.

Latest Research on Assessing Pain in the Ridden Horse

January 2019

The latest work on pain-associated behaviour in ridden horses, from two illuminating studies, was presented by Dr Sue Dyson at the Saddle Research Trust Conference on 8 December 2018. While one paper showed how heavier riders and unsuitable saddles can cause back muscle tension and pain in the horse, another disclosed that the ability to spot initial signs of musculoskeletal pain is now within the grasp of both trained and untrained assessors. Together the studies give the equestrian world better knowledge and tools to enhance the welfare and performance of ridden horses.

2019 International Equitation Science Conference will be held in Canada

November 2018

Preparations are underway for the 2019 International Equitation Science Conference: Bringing Science to the Stable. The event will be hosted by The University of Guelph - Canada’s largest and most renowned agricultural university and one of only five veterinary colleges in Canada. The conference will explore what science has uncovered about the unique horse-human connection under the title: Horse-human relationships: Where have we come from? Where are we now? Where are we going?

Do horses get stressed when bitted for the first time?

November 2018

New research has found that introducing the bit to a young horse for the first time can be a stressful process for them. However, this stress could be difficult for most people to identify unless they are taking physiological measures,­­ because the horse may not show visible stress behaviours. Introducing the bit is, traditionally, one of the most important training procedures in a young horse’s life. The majority of our performance horses are ‘bitted’, so this process forms a key part of the foundation training for many horses.

Licking and Chewing... Submission or Stress?

November 2018

Horses sometimes lick and chew during training and this has often been interpreted as a sign that the horse is learning or showing ‘submission’ to the trainer. However, a new study suggests that this non-nutritive licking and chewing behaviour is a natural behaviour that is shown when horses are recovering from a stressful situation. To gain insight into the function of licking and non-nutritive chewing behaviour in horses, a team of equine scientists from the Norwegian University of Life Sciences observed the social behaviour of feral horses under natural conditions. M.Sc.

Researchers Study the Effect of Different Rugs on Skin Temperature

November 2018

Many horse owners rug their horses all year round, however, a preliminary study, warns that the ambient temperatures expected and the type of rug needs to be carefully considered as horses can easily overheat.


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