How does the horse owner’s attitude towards horse ownership affect horse welfare?
Research from the University of Melbourne, Australia, examined the relationships between horse owner background factors (such as age, income, place of residence, knowledge and experience) and their attitudes towards horse husbandry and management behaviour.
Lead researcher Lauren M. Hemsworth, of the Animal Welfare Science Centre, in the Faculty of Veterinary and Agricultural Sciences, used a questionnaire to assess the owners’ attitude to horse ownership and management, together with an on-site inspection of horse husbandry and management on premises in Victoria, Australia. Data from 57 owners and 98 horses were included in the study.
She found relationships between horse owner background factors and the owners’ attitudes towards horse husbandry and management behaviour in areas such as parasite control, hoof care, and dental care. For example, favourable behavioural beliefs towards appropriate parasite control were associated with a young age and frequent riding instruction.
A full account of the work is published in the journal Animals.
The authors report that, “generally, belief variables correlated significantly with background factors that were primarily related to knowledge and experience. Further, beliefs concerning three key husbandry practices (parasite control, hoof care, and dental care) all appear to be predicted to some degree by background factors associated with knowledge and experience.”
So, they suggest that an educational strategy to improve the horse owner’s appreciation of the welfare implications of their behaviour may be important in safeguarding recreational horse welfare, but further research is warranted.
For more details, see:
Lauren M. Hemsworth, Ellen C. Jongman and Grahame J. Coleman
Animals (2021),11, 278.