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Animals 2018, 8(8), 134; https://doi.org/10.3390/ani8080134

Risk Factors for Transport-Related Problem Behaviors in Horses: A New Zealand Survey

1
College of Veterinary Medicine and Life Sciences, City University of Hong Kong, Kowloon, Hong Kong, China
2
Department of Veterinary Medicine, University of Bari, 70010 Bari, Italy
3
School of Veterinary Science, Massey University, Palmerston North 4470, New Zealand
*
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Received: 6 July 2018 / Revised: 29 July 2018 / Accepted: 31 July 2018 / Published: 2 August 2018
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Simple Summary

Transport-related problem behaviors (TRPBs) are unwanted behaviors exhibited by horses in one or multiple phases of transport contributing to the injury of the horses and their handlers. The aim of this study was to identify risk factors for TRPBs in support of the development of best practices that minimize their incidence, and safeguard horse and handler wellbeing. An online cross-sectional survey was designed and disseminated to New Zealand equine industry members. Respondents were asked whether one of their horses had shown TRPBs during the two previous years, and to describe their equine background and experience, the method or way in which they had trained their horses for loading and travelling, the type of aids they used for loading and the type of vehicle. At least one horse was reported as showing a TRPB by almost one out of four of respondents. The type of vehicle, of training and of aids used for loading and travelling resulted associated with TRPBs. These findings may be useful to enhance horse welfare by educating people in charge of moving horses on appropriate training methods and vehicle selection for road transportation.

Abstract

Transport-related problem behaviors (TRPBs) are common in horses and can cause injury to both the horses and their handlers. This study aimed to identify possible risk factors for TRPBs to inform approaches to mitigate TRPBs incidence and enhance horse welfare. An online cross-sectional survey was conducted to explore the prevalence of TRPBs and their association with human-, training- and transport management-related factors in New Zealand. The survey generated 1124 valid responses that were analyzed using descriptive statistics, and logistic regression analyses. Having at least one horse with TRPB was reported by 249/1124 (22.2%) respondents during the two previous years. Of these, 21/249 (8.4%) occurred during pre-loading, 78/249 (31.3%) during loading, 132/249 (53.0%) while travelling, and 18/249 (7.3%) during unloading. Our findings indicate that the use of negative reinforcement and positive punishment as training methods, using a whip or food for loading, and travelling in a straight load trailer/float while offering food were associated with a higher likelihood of TRPBs. Cross-sectional studies cannot determine causality and findings should be interpreted with caution, and evaluated in further experimental studies. The authors suggest that education on appropriate training methods for transport, and vehicle selection may mitigate the risk for TRPBs in horses. View Full-Text
Keywords: problem behavior; transport; training; horse problem behavior; transport; training; horse
This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited. (CC BY 4.0).

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Padalino, B.; Rogers, C.W.; Guiver, D.; Bridges, J.P.; Riley, C.B. Risk Factors for Transport-Related Problem Behaviors in Horses: A New Zealand Survey. Animals 2018, 8, 134.

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