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Fostering adherence to horse behavior counseling

By R. Jobling, E. Creighton

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Counseling services that aim to improve understanding of horse-human interactions are on the frontline of the horse welfare agenda. The aim of this research was to determine characteristics of horse owners seeking advice about their horse's behavior that predicted their adherence to that advice. The established science of human behavioral change has largely been applied in the field of health psychology to identify predictors of behavior. A thorough review of human behavioral change literature identified 10 cognitive variables (e.g., attitude toward horse behavior counselors) that had the potential to predict adherence to the advice of a horse behavior counselor. Established self-report questionnaire methodology was adopted to survey an opportunistic sample of 52 clients of horse behavior counselors before they received the advice (initial cognitive profile), 10 days after (post-communication changes), and at 3-month follow-up (long-term changes). Data were preliminarily analyzed using correlation analyses and subsequently, multiple regression analyses were used to generate a model for adherence. Horse behavior counselors cannot influence what clients perceive when they come into the process, but are able to influence cognitive variables during the communication. The amount of post-communication change in value of the outcome of adhering to the advice ( beta =0.338, P=0.033) and attribution of the horse's behavior problem to external factors (e.g., facilities, time; beta =0.309, P=0.050) were significant elements of a multiple regression analysis that explained 23.6% of the variance in adherence 10 days after the communication (F2,35=6.700, P=0.003). At 3-month follow-up, there were no associations between adherence and the earlier cognitive profiles, but clients who showed a 3-month increase in positive attitude toward horse behavior counselors were more likely to show long-term adherence (r=0.389, P=0.019). Horse behavior counselors may benefit clients by demonstrating the effects of their advice early in the communication, so that clients value their efforts to adhere to the advice and continue to do so. Horse behavior counselors may also foster adherence to their advice by emphasizing external causes of the horse's behavior problem, which clients may find more controllable than internal causes such as their level of skill or fear. Developing the client's perception of a controllable cause of their horse's behavioral problem may build confidence in their ability to address the problem and encourage adherence.

Date 2011
Publication Title Journal of Veterinary Behavior: Clinical Applications and Research
Volume 6
Issue 5
Pages 276-286
ISBN/ISSN 1558-7878
DOI 10.1016/j.jveb.2011.02.009
Language English
Author Address Anthrozoology Unit, Chester Centre for Stress Research, University of Chester, Chester, Cheshire, UK.
Cite this work

Researchers should cite this work as follows:

  1. Activity
  2. Animal behavior
  3. Animal health and hygiene
  4. Attitudes
  5. Behavior and behavior mechanisms
  6. Characteristics
  7. Counseling
  8. Effect
  9. Feet
  10. Follow-up studies
  11. Fostering
  12. Health
  13. Horses
  14. Interactions
  15. Mammals
  16. Mathematics and statistics
  17. Methodologies
  18. Methods
  19. perceptions
  20. predictions
  21. predictors
  22. psychological well-being
  23. Questionnaires
  24. Regression Analysis
  25. Social psychology and social anthropology
  26. Techniques