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The Development of a Novel Questionnaire Approach to the Investigation of Horse Training, Management, and Behaviour

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Sydney School of Veterinary Science, University of Sydney, Camperdown NSW 2006, Australia
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School of Events, Tourism and Hospitality Management, Leeds Beckett University, Leeds LS1 3HE, UK
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School of Veterinary Medicine, University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, PA 19104, USA
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Equitation Science International, 3 Wonderland Ave, Tuerong, Victoria 3915, Australia
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Saddletops Pty Ltd., Gatton, Queensland 4343, Australia
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Dre Mary Klinck, m.v., consultante en comportement, Sainte-Anne-de-Bellevue, QC H9X0A6, Canada
*
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Animals 2020, 10(11), 1960; https://doi.org/10.3390/ani10111960
Received: 2 October 2020 / Revised: 17 October 2020 / Accepted: 21 October 2020 / Published: 24 October 2020
(This article belongs to the Section Human-Animal Interactions, Animal Behaviour and Emotion)
The way horses are trained and managed influences their behaviour. The Equine Behaviour Assessment and Research Questionnaire (E-BARQ) was developed to gather information on the training, management, and behaviour of domestic horses. An international panel was established to assist with the questionnaire development and the pilot questionnaire collected data on 1320 horses. Statistical analysis revealed the E-BARQ to be a suitable representation of relevant features of horse training and management and the objective reporting of horse behaviour.
The Equine Behaviour Assessment and Research Questionnaire (E-BARQ) is a questionnaire instrument developed to obtain quantitative data on the domestic equine triad of training, management, and behaviour of horses. The E-BARQ was developed to identify how changes in training and management impact behaviour over time, to define normal behaviour in horses, and to discover how to improve rider safety and horse welfare, leading to ethical equitation. During the development of the E-BARQ, we also investigated how best to motivate stakeholders to engage with this citizen science project. The pilot version of the E-BARQ collected qualitative data on respondents’ experience of the questionnaire. The pilot questionnaire was developed with the assistance of an international panel (with professional expertise in horse training, equitation science, veterinary science, equestrian coaching, welfare, animal behaviour, and elite-level riding), and was used to collect data on 1320 horses from approximately 1194 owner/caregiver respondents, with an option for respondents to provide free-text feedback. A Rotated Principal Component Analysis of the 218 behavioural, management, and training questionnaire items extracted a total of 65 rotated components. Thirty-six of the 65 rotated components demonstrated high internal reliability. Of the 218 questionnaire items, 43 items failed to reach the Rotated Principal Component Analysis criteria and were not included in the final version of the E-BARQ. Survey items that failed the Rotated Principal Component Analysis inclusion criteria were discarded if found to have a less than 85% response rate, or a variance of less than 1.3. Of those that survived the Rotated Principal Component Analysis, items were further assigned to horse temperament (17 rotated components), equitation (11 rotated components), and management and equipment (8 rotated components) groups. The feedback from respondents indicated the need for further items to be added to the questionnaire, resulting in a total of 214 items for the final E-BARQ survey. Many of these items were further grouped into question matrices, and the demographic items for horse and handler included, giving a final total of 97 questions on the E-BARQ questionnaire. These results provided content validity, showing that the questionnaire items were an acceptable representation of the entire horse training, management, and behavioural domain for the development of the final E-BARQ questionnaire. View Full-Text
Keywords: horse welfare; rider safety; behavioural evaluation; citizen science; ethical equitation; the domestic equine triad horse welfare; rider safety; behavioural evaluation; citizen science; ethical equitation; the domestic equine triad
MDPI and ACS Style

Fenner, K.; Dashper, K.; Serpell, J.; McLean, A.; Wilkins, C.; Klinck, M.; Wilson, B.; McGreevy, P. The Development of a Novel Questionnaire Approach to the Investigation of Horse Training, Management, and Behaviour. Animals 2020, 10, 1960.

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