A reduced level of welfare of horses is related to management factors such as low forage feeding, short feeding time, social isolation, and lack of unrestrained exercise. It has been assumed that welfare problems can be reduced and/or partly prevented by improving the knowledge and skills of horse enthusiasts. It has also been assumed that to improve the provision of information to horse enthusiasts, it is important to explore and gain more insight into horse enthusiasts' motives, knowledge, and behavior. The aim of this exploratory study was to identify the diversity of horse enthusiasts in the Netherlands, with respect to the way they search and find out information, their emotional involvement with horses, and their attitude, their knowledge, and daily practices with regard to equine welfare. A Web-based survey using a 30-item questionnaire resulted in 4,267 respondents. Most respondents (84.6%) were female; the average age of the respondents was 34.2 (13.5) years. More than half of the respondents (64.5%) believed that there were welfare problems throughout the whole horse industry. The most important reported source for information was the personal contact with other horse enthusiasts (82.8%), with veterinarians (74.5%), and with farriers (69.5%). It is, therefore, recommended that to disseminate relevant knowledge on equine welfare, particular attention should be paid to the acquisition and dissemination skills within the education programs of veterinarians and farriers. Although most respondents were aware of the issues that can compromise welfare, their knowledge did not always result in appropriate practices. Furthermore, a cluster analysis showed that horse enthusiasts can be categorized into 4 clusters from the way they search and find out information, their emotional involvement with horses, and their attitude, their knowledge, and daily practices with regard to the welfare of horses. To improve the provision of information to horse enthusiasts, it is recommended that the information provision to horse enthusiasts is organized around these 4 clusters of horse enthusiasts.
|Publication Title||Journal of Veterinary Behavior: Clinical Applications and Research|
|Author Address||Wageningen University and Research Centre, Livestock Research, Edelhertweg 15, 8219 PH Lelystad, Netherlands.firstname.lastname@example.org|
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