Caring for the Older Horse: A Conceptual Model of Owner Decision Making
Institute of Infection, Veterinary and Ecological Sciences, University of Liverpool, Leahurst Campus, Chester High Road, Neston, Cheshire CH64 7TE, UK
Institute of Population Health, University of Liverpool, Waterhouse Building, Block B, Brownlow Street, Liverpool L69 3GL, UK
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Academic Editor: Joanna Hockenhull
Received: 16 April 2021
Revised: 29 April 2021
Accepted: 30 April 2021
Published: 2 May 2021
Horse owners are key to facilitating the care that their horse receives. This study sought to understand how management and health care decisions are navigated by owners of older horses. Online discussion forum threads were selected to explore everyday conversations between horse owners around issues of concern relevant to older horse care. Analysis identified seven common themes in owner decision making; the human–horse relationship, horse-related responses, integrated geography, purpose, influences on behavioural outcomes, resources and life worth living. The characterisation of each theme was unique for each human and horse; themes could change over time and were dynamically interrelated. A conceptual model was developed to demonstrate how themes can change in meaning and importance, affecting the human–horse relationship and impacting upon choices made for a horse. This model can be used in the development of practical tools to assist those involved in the care of older horses.