Students enrolled in veterinary degrees often come from an urban background with little previous experience in handling horses and other large animals. Many veterinary degree programmes place importance on the teaching of appropriate equine handling skills, yet within the literature it is commonly reported that time allocated for practical classes often suffers due to time constraint pressure from other elements of the curriculum. The effect of this pressure on animal handling teaching time is reflected in the self-reported low level of animal handling competency, particularly equine, in students with limited prior experience with horses. This is a concern as a naive student is potentially at higher risk of injury to themselves when interacting with horses. Additionally, a naive student with limited understanding of equine behaviour may, through inconsistent or improper handling, increase the anxiety and compromise the welfare of these horses. There is a lack of literature investigating the welfare of horses in university teaching facilities, appropriate handling procedures, and student safety. This article focuses on the importance for students to be able to interpret equine behaviour and the potential consequences of poor handling skills to equine and student welfare. Lastly, the authors suggest a conceptual model to optimise equine welfare, and subsequently student safety, during practical equine handling classes.
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