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Equitation Science / Behaviour

Desensitised Mares Raise Calmer Foals

September 2014

Can mares transmit habituation to scary or novel objects to their foals? Janne Christensen, PhD, from Aarhus University in Denmark presented 'Social transmission of habituation from mares to their foals'...A report from the 10th International Equitation Science Conference (ISES) - 'Equine Stress, Learning and Training' - held in Denmark on August 7-9th 2014.

Researchers want to know more about horse people

June 2014

A team of scientists have launched a short online survey to try and understand what type of people are attracted to riding, work in the horse industry or watch equestrian sports. The team is lead by Dr. David Marlin and comprises Dr. Inga Wolframm (an expert in sports psychology) who has been studying personality in riders for a number of years, and Dr. Jane Williams (an epidemiologist).

How are horses managed in different countries?

June 2014

Do horse owners in Sweden stable their horses more often than owners in New Zealand? What do owners in France and Holland feed their horses?  Do riders in England use the same bits and saddles as riders in Australia? Do owners in the United States or Spain use the internet the most to find out about horse care?   Are Italian horses more likely to wear shoes or go barefoot?

Equine Behaviour Through Time

April 2014

Horses began their journey through time 60 million years ago. Three million years ago the footsteps of humans were fossilised next to the hoof prints of horses, suggesting that humans have been contemplating horses for some time. But, it was not until perhaps ten thousand years ago that human societies began the dance of domestication with the horse. Over thousands of years, perhaps tens of thousands of years, the horse herds gradually merged with human societies.

Development of facial expression pain scale

April 2014

A team of researchers from Italy, Germany and England have successfully developed and validated a standardised pain scale based on the facial expressions of horses, called the Horse Grimace Scale (HGS). Easily trainable, this new method will assist in pain detection in horses and could positively impact the welfare of horses that undergo routine painful procedures, such as castration.

UK study aims to understand back pain in horses - its management and treatment

November 2013

Physiotherapy techniques designed to manage back pain in humans have commonly been applied to treat equine back pain, however further research is still needed to link the symptoms and clinical findings, explains veterinary physiotherapist Gillian Tabor.

Can good horse training get any better?

October 2013

  Equitation Science coach and director of EquiSci Lisa Ashton reports from the 9th ISES Conference in Delaware, USA, where in a plenary duo, leading equine behaviourists Dr Andrew McLean and Professor Paul McGreevy explained how science can help us understand the more subtle and complex emotional aspects of horse-human interactions, and how future research in this area will help maximise training success and enhance horse welfare.

Is your horse in the mood to learn?

July 2013

Behaviour scientists say that learning processes are universal and just like all beings, horses can be trained, or more precisely they learn to modify their behaviour by three distinct processes: trial and error (operant conditioning); association (classical conditioning); and getting used to things (habituation). They named these the Principles of Learning, or Learning Theory; an apt name because as many horse people will tell you, they may work perfectly in theory, but turn out to be a lot more complex to put into practice.

Equitation Science Conferences Inspiring Future Generations

December 2012

Following the trend set by the International Society for Equitation Science, the 2013 Assessment and Asymmetry Conference, UK will provide another opportunity for scientists, technical experts and practitioners to work closely together, this time to specifically discuss how asymmetry impacts on horse performance, comfort and welfare, and how we can better understand and study it.

To Bit or not to Bit... Responses of young horses to bitted and bitless bridles during foundation training

December 2012

Having a bit in the horse’s mouth to give you control when riding it is generally considered to be normal. Historical reports of the human-horse relationship almost always depict a bit of some description in the horse’s mouth (Figure 1) and often the humaneness of such devices is not readily apparent (Figure 2). Recently however, there seems to be a bit of a shift towards finding more ethical ways of horse control. One such approach is thought to be the use of a bitless bridle (Figure 3).

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