Special Issue "Horse Welfare"

A special issue of Animals (ISSN 2076-2615). This special issue belongs to the section "Animal Welfare".

Deadline for manuscript submissions: closed (30 November 2019).

Special Issue Editors

Dr. Clémence Lesimple
E-Mail Website
Guest Editor
Univ Rennes, Normandie Univ, CNRS, EthoS (Éthologie animale et humaine) - UMR 6552, F-35380 Paimpont
Interests: animal behaviour, animal welfare, horse management, working conditions
Dr. Aleksandra Górecka-Bruzda
E-Mail Website
Guest Editor
Institute of Genetics and Animal Breeding, Polish Academy of SciencesJastrzębiec, 05-556 Magdalenka, Poland
Interests: animal behavior, animal welfare, horse behavior and welfare, free-roaming Konik polski horses

Special Issue Information

Dear Colleagues,

In the last decades, animal welfare has become a primary societal concern, extending from livestock to companion animals. Horses, due to their multiple status of companion, leisure, sport and livestock animals, have to face major modifications of their environment and life conditions from their youngest age. These constraints may include, but are not restricted to, social, spatial, nutritional and physical restrictions, as well as the omnipresence of humans, which can impact the welfare state. There is evidence that horses’ welfare and perception of humans are closely linked, as the first can impair the second and vice versa. Thus promoting welfare-friendly practices and positive human–horse interactions cannot be disentangled when considering horse welfare.

We invite original research or review papers that address the improvement of all the potential components of horse welfare, including breeding and weaning conditions, management, working conditions, welfare evaluation, and the management of geriatric horses. Additional topics may include horse education, transportation and the effect of training on the improvement and evaluation of horse welfare. As the definition of welfare depends on constant states, cases of acute pain or sickness states will not be treated in this Special Issue.

Dr. Clémence Lesimple
Dr. Aleksandra Górecka-Bruzda
Guest Editors

Manuscript Submission Information

Manuscripts should be submitted online at www.mdpi.com by registering and logging in to this website. Once you are registered, click here to go to the submission form. Manuscripts can be submitted until the deadline. All papers will be peer-reviewed. Accepted papers will be published continuously in the journal (as soon as accepted) and will be listed together on the special issue website. Research articles, review articles as well as short communications are invited. For planned papers, a title and short abstract (about 100 words) can be sent to the Editorial Office for announcement on this website.

Submitted manuscripts should not have been published previously, nor be under consideration for publication elsewhere (except conference proceedings papers). All manuscripts are thoroughly refereed through a single-blind peer-review process. A guide for authors and other relevant information for submission of manuscripts is available on the Instructions for Authors page. Animals is an international peer-reviewed open access monthly journal published by MDPI.

Please visit the Instructions for Authors page before submitting a manuscript. The Article Processing Charge (APC) for publication in this open access journal is 1600 CHF (Swiss Francs). Submitted papers should be well formatted and use good English. Authors may use MDPI's English editing service prior to publication or during author revisions.

Keywords

  • horse welfare
  • management
  • human–horse relationship
  • welfare assessment
  • equine preferences and training
  • working conditions

Published Papers (5 papers)

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Research

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Open AccessArticle
Effects of Transport Conditions on Behavioural and Physiological Responses of Horses
Animals 2020, 10(1), 160; https://doi.org/10.3390/ani10010160 - 17 Jan 2020
Abstract
The regulations for minimal space and direction of travel for land transport in horses vary worldwide and there is currently no definitive guidance to promote equine health and welfare. This study evaluated the effects of bay size and direction of travel (forwards/backwards) in [...] Read more.
The regulations for minimal space and direction of travel for land transport in horses vary worldwide and there is currently no definitive guidance to promote equine health and welfare. This study evaluated the effects of bay size and direction of travel (forwards/backwards) in horses by comparing the behavioural, physiological, laboratory and gastroscopy parameters between transported and confined horses. A total of twenty-six mares took part in the study; 12 horses were confined for 12 h, and all mares underwent 12 hours’ transportation, travelling in single (n = 18) or wide bays (n = 8), and forward (n = 10) or rear (n = 16) facing. Behaviour was recorded during confinement/transportation and analysed using a behaviour sampling ethogram. Clinical examination, blood samples and gastroscopy were conducted before and after confinement/transportation. The frequency of behaviours relating to stress and balance increased during transport, and horses transported in a rear-facing position and in a wider bay size showed fewer balance-related behaviours. Balance behaviours, particularly loss of balance, were positively associated with the severity of gastric ulceration after transportation and elevated muscle enzymes, while increased stress behaviours correlated with decreased gastrointestinal sounds. Heart rate and rectal temperature after transportation were positively associated with balance and stress behaviours, and with squamous gastric ulcer scores. Transportation was associated with expected increases in cortisol and muscle enzymes, but positioning and space allowance had minimal effects on these analytes. Findings suggest that transportation in a rear-facing position and in wider bays might reduce the impact of transport on horse health and welfare, and monitoring behaviour in transit and physiological measurements after transportation should be recommended. Behavioural and physiological parameters were more sensitive than haematological, biochemical or endocrine analytes to identify horses suffering from transport stress. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Horse Welfare)
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Open AccessArticle
Optimising the Efficacy of Equine Welfare Communications: Do Equine Stakeholders Differ in Their Information-Seeking Behaviour and Communication Preferences?
Animals 2020, 10(1), 21; https://doi.org/10.3390/ani10010021 - 20 Dec 2019
Abstract
Information on the management of animals within domestic environments is freely available to animal owners and caregivers either online, or in paper form by request. However, awareness is growing within the animal welfare sector that simply providing written guidelines or educational material is [...] Read more.
Information on the management of animals within domestic environments is freely available to animal owners and caregivers either online, or in paper form by request. However, awareness is growing within the animal welfare sector that simply providing written guidelines or educational material is not enough to affect a positive change in owners in relation to animal welfare. In the quest to improve equine welfare, understanding the way that owners and other stakeholders seek information and their communication preferences is key to effective dissemination of up to date equine welfare information and research findings. Three UK equine stakeholder groups—horse owners, livery yard owners, and equine veterinarians—were surveyed online to find out where they sought equine information. Their awareness of equine welfare Codes of Practice, how they respond when they are asked to give advice to horse owners and their communication preferences were included within the survey. All three stakeholder groups tended to seek information from people rather than from organisations, or digital and printed resources. Veterinarians were the most used information source across all three stakeholder groups This highlighted the importance of ensuring that equine veterinarians have access to up to date, evidence-based equine welfare information. While the majority of participants were aware of the equine welfare Code of Practice, fewer had actually read it, this was true particularly amongst horse owners. The primary reasons for this were the features of the Code as well as the issuing organisation. The stakeholders expressed a preference for information to be communicated in a neutral or positive way rather than focusing on negative aspects. Our findings suggest that industry professionals, particularly veterinarians, have an important role to play in knowledge transfer and the dissemination of research findings to horse owners. The efficacy of equine welfare communication could be improved if the information delivery preferences of equine stakeholders are were taken into consideration. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Horse Welfare)
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Open AccessCommunication
Practice of Noseband Use and Intentions towards Behavioural Change in Dutch Equestrians
Animals 2019, 9(12), 1131; https://doi.org/10.3390/ani9121131 - 12 Dec 2019
Abstract
Understanding equestrians’ noseband tightening practices and intentions is necessary to target welfare improvement strategies. Firstly, we measured tightness in dressage and show jumping horses in The Netherlands, shortly after implementation of the two-finger rule by the Royal Dutch Equestrian Federation. Noseband tightness decreased [...] Read more.
Understanding equestrians’ noseband tightening practices and intentions is necessary to target welfare improvement strategies. Firstly, we measured tightness in dressage and show jumping horses in The Netherlands, shortly after implementation of the two-finger rule by the Royal Dutch Equestrian Federation. Noseband tightness decreased with age, was less tight in dressage horses than in show jumpers, and was dependent on the interaction between competition level and discipline. Fifty-nine percent of the riders tightened nosebands to such an extent that they adhered to the new regulation. Secondly, we conducted an online survey to gain insight into whether riders were aware of noseband use and tightening behaviour. Of the 386 respondents, 54.5% agreed with the new regulations, and 62% believe that it improves horses’ welfare. Applying cluster analysis to statements regarding their own attitude, peer pressure, and behavioural control produced three clusters. Noticeably, a lower percentage of Cluster 1 respondents (38%) performing at higher levels was convinced that the new regulation improved welfare than Cluster 2 (77.9%) and 3 (89.0%) respondents. Designing strategies to ensure the successful implementation of the new regulation and to convince equestrians to comply would be most effective if targeted differentially, and should include a transparent and objective form of regulation. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Horse Welfare)
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Review

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Open AccessReview
Horse Welfare During Equine Chorionic Gonadotropin (eCG) Production
Animals 2019, 9(12), 1053; https://doi.org/10.3390/ani9121053 - 01 Dec 2019
Abstract
Collection of blood from pregnant mares for extraction of equine chorionic gonadotropin (eCG) is a critical but relatively unknown and poorly regulated practice in the countries in which it occurs. Equine chorionic gonadotropin is a hormone that is widely used to enhance reproductive [...] Read more.
Collection of blood from pregnant mares for extraction of equine chorionic gonadotropin (eCG) is a critical but relatively unknown and poorly regulated practice in the countries in which it occurs. Equine chorionic gonadotropin is a hormone that is widely used to enhance reproductive performance and management of dairy and beef cattle, sheep, goats, and pigs kept under intensive housing systems. eCG is extracted from the blood of brood mares between days 40–120 of gestation. Although alternatives have been sought, there is currently no efficacious replacement, natural or synthetic, for eCG. Recently, several animal welfare organizations have voiced concerns over the condition and treatment of pregnant mares kept for eCG production in some countries. Animal welfare issues may arise if mares are bled too frequently or if too much blood is collected at any time. In addition, these mares tend to be managed extensively on pastures with minimal veterinary oversight and they may be poorly desensitized and habituated to handling and other practices. This can lead to serious injuries and even death when mares are brought in for bleeding. This paper reviews the process of blood collection for eCG extraction and provides recommendations for ensuring mare welfare. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Horse Welfare)

Other

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Open AccessProject Report
Preliminary Proof of the Concept of Wild (Feral) Horses Following Light Aircraft into a Trap
Animals 2020, 10(1), 80; https://doi.org/10.3390/ani10010080 - 02 Jan 2020
Abstract
Feral horses, wherever managed, typically require population control involving capture for permanent removal or repeatedly for fertility control treatments. The most common method for capturing feral horses is helicopter chasing into traps. With this fear-based strategy, it is difficult to safely capture entire [...] Read more.
Feral horses, wherever managed, typically require population control involving capture for permanent removal or repeatedly for fertility control treatments. The most common method for capturing feral horses is helicopter chasing into traps. With this fear-based strategy, it is difficult to safely capture entire groups. Recapture becomes increasingly difficult, with greater safety risks for pilots and ground staff. As preliminary proof of the concept of capturing free-roaming horses by leading into enclosures with light aircraft rather than driving with helicopters, a consumer-grade quadcopter drone was used to lead a herd of 123 semi-feral ponies into simulated traps. The technique was successful on the first attempt as well as for seven of nine additional attempts over a period of 4 weeks, repeatedly to the same as well as to different destinations. The pace of following was primarily a fast walk, with occasional slow trot. Family integrity was maintained. This work demonstrates preliminary proof of the concept of repeated capture of horses by leading with aircraft rather than chasing. If successfully demonstrated in more extensive rangeland conditions, this method may eventually provide a lower-stress, more repeatable option of capturing feral horses, with implications for improved animal and human safety and welfare. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Horse Welfare)
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