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Identifying potential risk situations for humans when removing horses from groups

By Elke Hartmann, Eva Søndergaard, Linda J. Keeling

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Abstract

Removing a horse from its social group may be considered risky, both for the handler and the horse, because other horses can interfere in the catching process. The main aim of this study was to identify where and when these risk situations occur while removing a horse from its group. A potential risk situation was defined by the closeness of loose horses in the group or by any physical contact with them. Whether the number of horses following would be influenced by the social rank of the horse being led out, and whether more horses would follow to the gate when a larger proportion of the group was removed compared to when a single horse was taken out were also investigated. Thirty-two mares (1–2 years) were kept in groups of four. All horses were taken out of their home paddock twice alone (64 tests) and twice with a companion (32 tests). One handler (or two handlers when two horses were removed) was asked to approach (phase 1) and catch the target horse (phase 2), walk it to the centre of the paddock and remain stationary at a post for 30s (phase 3), walk to the paddock entrance (phase 4) and through the gate (phase 5). The number of horses following, and the number of loose horses in proximity (

Publication Title Applied Animal Behaviour Science
Volume 136
Issue 1
Pages 37-43
ISBN/ISSN 0168-1591
DOI 10.1016/j.applanim.2011.11.005
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Tags
  1. Groups
  2. Handling
  3. Horses
  4. Humans
  5. Injuries