Ongoing Research On Horse-Human Interactions Bode Well For Equine Welfare

The interactions between horses and humans were discussed during a three-day, virtual conference hosted by the International Society for Equitation Science (ISES). Dr. Katrina Merkies recounted research on understanding human impact on the physiological and behavioral states of horses. She believes that evidence-based research will continually improve equine welfare, reports Equine Guelph.

During her presentation, Merkies referenced a survey that asked people to characterize their bond with their horse. Respondents reported that their horse approaches them, vocally greets them and touches them. They also stated that their horses may turn to them when frightened.

Another study noted that while survey participants may be able to discern a scenario where there is a physical threat to a horse, they might not be able to accurately answer questions regarding when a horse is bored or frustrated. This lack of understanding is of concern as the “five freedoms of animal welfare” recommends that animals not just survive, but thrive in the care they are receiving—their social and emotional needs must also be met in addition to their needs for food, water and shelter.

Merkies also reported that:

  • Horses blink less when they’re acutely stressed
  • People who possess insecure attachment styles do not overly stress therapy horses
  • Horses can aptly distinguish between human facial expressions
  • Horses are more likely to approach an attentive person than an inattentive person
  • Horses react to the tone of voice used with them
  • Incorrect use of negative reinforcement increases stress in horses
  • Horses that live out most of the time become desensitized to novel stimuli more rapidly

Merkies finished her presentation reiterating that humans in charge of horses must be in tune with equine needs and allow horses to express themselves. She believes that education will assist horse owners and handlers in their ability to recognize positive welfare as well as welfare warning signs.

Read more at Equine Guelph.

The post Ongoing Research On Horse-Human Interactions Bode Well For Equine Welfare appeared first on Horse Racing News | Paulick Report.

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