Human Direct Actions May Alter Animal Welfare, a Study on Horses (Equus caballus)

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Background: Back pain is the cause of bad welfare in humans and animals. Although vertebral problems are regularly reported on riding horses, these problems are not always identified nor noticed enough to prevent these horses to be used for work. Methodology/Principal Findings: Nineteen horses from two riding centres were submitted to chiropractic examinations performed by an experienced chiropractor and both horses' and riders' postures were observed during a riding lesson. The results show that 74% of horses were severely affected by vertebral problems, while only 26% were mildly or not affected. The degree of vertebral problems identified at rest was statistically correlated with horses' attitudes at work (neck height and curve), and horses' attitudes at work were clearly correlated with riders' positions. Clear differences appeared between schools concerning both riders' and horses' postures, and the analysis of the teachers' speech content and duration highlighted differences in the attention devoted to the riders' position. Conclusion/Significance: These findings are to our knowledge the first to underline the impact of riding on horses' back problems and the importance of teaching proper balance to beginner riders in order to increase animals' welfare. Copyright: © 2010 Lesimple et al.




Lesimple, C., Fureix, C., Menguy, H., & Hausberger, M. (2010). Human Direct Actions May Alter Animal Welfare, a Study on Horses (Equus caballus). PLoS ONE, 5(4).

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