Study Shows With Training Even Non-horse People Can Recognize Equine Pain

Though the moods and facial expressions of horses are familiar to those who ride and own them, the way horses express themselves can be a mystery to the non-horsey set. To determine if people unfamiliar with horses were able to recognize if a horse was in pain, researchers showed and trained them the Horse Grimace Scale.

The study, conducted by Drs. Francesca Dai, Mattew Leach, Amelia Mari MacRae, Michela Minero and Emanuela Dalla Costa, gave 206 undergraduate students unfamiliar with horses a lecture on pain and its effects on facial expressions in different species, excluding horses. They then were asked to score 10 images of horses in pain from acute laminitis, without any knowledge of the Horse Grimace Scale.

Next they received a 30-minute face-to-face, classroom training from an expert in the scoring system and shown examples; they were also encouraged to ask questions regarding the six facial actions associated with pain: holding ears backward stiffly; tightening around the eye; tension above the eye; strained chewing muscles; strained mouth and chin; strained nostrils; and flattening of the profile.

Horse are scored from 0 (not present) to 2 (obviously present); any horse can get a maximum of 12 on the pain scale.

The students were then showed 10 additional images of horses in laminitic pain and asked to apply the Horse Grimace Scale. Though the students grasped important elements, the researchers felt that they needed more time being trained on the scale to apply it effectively. They feel this is a good starting point for the development of a more-comprehensive training program to teach non-horse people how to recognize pain in horses. The scientists reported that they believe the ability to score live animals is fundamental to improving accuracy of pain evaluation.

Read more at HorseTalk.

Read the full study here.

The post Study Shows With Training Even Non-horse People Can Recognize Equine Pain appeared first on Horse Racing News | Paulick Report.

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