Development and Validation of a Test for the Classification of Horses as Broken or Unbroken
Department of Agricultural and Food Sciences, Alma Mater Studiorum–University of Bologna, 40127 Bologna, Italy
Department of Veterinary Medicine, University of Milan, 26900 Lodi, Italy
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Academic Editor: Francesca Arfuso
Received: 14 July 2021
Revised: 3 August 2021
Accepted: 3 August 2021
Published: 4 August 2021
Transportation is a stressful event for all animal species, but some species may be subjected to worse welfare consequences than others due to their ethological characteristics and specific coping strategies. Among equines, horses with a low level of tameness are at higher risk for transport-related disease and injury. For this reason, in Europe, regulations for the protection of animals during transport (Regulation EC 1/2005) are stricter for unbroken (untamed) vs. broken (tamed) horses. However, in practice, official veterinarians cannot verify regulatory compliance as there is no valid tool for the classification of horses as broken or unbroken. This study proposes the Broken/Unbroken Test (BUT) for assessment and scoring of horse behaviour during approach, haltering, and handling. After a validation process, our study has shown that the BUT is a reliable, valid, and feasible tool for determining whether a horse is broken or unbroken. The use of this tool would allow simple verification of compliance with Regulation 1/2005, and would help to ensure that transport procedures for unbroken horses are more respectful of their ethological and physiological characteristics. This may reduce the incidence of adverse welfare consequences for horses during transportation.