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Management practices associated with owner-reported stable-related and handling behaviour problems in UK leisure horses

By Jo Hockenhull, Emma Creighton

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Abstract

Stable-related and handling behaviour problems are highly prevalent in UK leisure horses. Associations between routine management practices and behaviour problems have been identified in racehorses and performance horses but it is unknown whether these practices are also associated with behaviour problems in leisure horses. The objective of this study was to identify management risk factors associated with the performance of stable-related and handling behaviour problems in UK leisure horses. An Internet survey was used to collect horse-level data from a convenience sample of UK leisure horse owners. Univariate and multivariate logistic regression analyses were used to explore associations between the occurrence of behaviour in five components of related stable and handling behaviour problems and routine management practices. Behaviour data were generated for 1226 individual horses. Logistic regression analyses were used to explore associations between the occurrence of behaviour in five components and management practices. Associated risk factors varied between five behaviour problem components. Three of the five multivariate models failed the goodness-of-fit tests suggesting that risk factors for these problems predominantly lie outside the horse's management regime. Where risk factors were identified they were similar to those associated with stereotypic behaviour in performance horses. The similarities between risk factors associated with stable-related and handling behaviour problems in leisure horses and those associated with stereotypic behaviour in performance horses indicate that the findings of performance horse studies are highly relevant to leisure horses, despite the perceived differences between these populations.

Publication Title Applied Animal Behaviour Science
Volume 155
Pages 49-55
ISBN/ISSN 0168-1591
DOI 10.1016/j.applanim.2014.02.014
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Tags
  1. Horses
  2. Husbandry
  3. Management
  4. stables