Examining Canadian Equine Industry Participants’ Perceptions of Horses and Their Welfare
Department of Animal Biosciences, University of Guelph, Guelph, ON N1G 2W1, Canada
Campbell Centre for the Study of Animal Welfare, University of Guelph, Guelph, ON N1G 2W1, Canada
Agrocampus Ouest, 65 rue de Saint-Brieuc, CS 84215, 35042 Rennes CEDEX, France
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Current address: UMR BDR INRA ENVA Université Paris Saclay, 78350 Jouy en Josas, France.
Received: 9 October 2018 / Revised: 3 November 2018 / Accepted: 5 November 2018 / Published: 7 November 2018
The Canadian equine industry is a diverse and fragmented industry containing a multitude of individuals whose different backgrounds and involvements shape their perceptions of the horses they use and work with. An online survey distributed to adult members of the Canadian equine industry (n = 901) was used to provide insight into participants’ perceptions of horse sentience and the welfare status of animals in the industry. Participants strongly believed that horses can experience emotions such as pain and fear, but these opinions were rarely reflected in their answers regarding welfare issues. Participants involved in disciplines having a history of using horses for work were more inclined to consider horses livestock, and this belief impacted their responses to welfare concerns, for example being less concerned about horses at auctions. While there was strong agreement regarding the welfare threats to horses in the industry, participants were more divided regarding the optimal ways to address these issues and which horses were most affected by them. Understanding these perceptions may be useful in the future to help direct educational programs and industry-wide initiatives, particularly in the area of equine welfare, in an effort to better the lives of horses through targeted knowledge transfer.