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Comparative well-being of horses kept under total or partial confinement prior to employment for mounted patrols

By Gabriela O. Pessoa, Pablo Trigo, Francisco D. Mesquita Neto, Antônio C. C. Lacreta Junior, Ticiana M. Sousa, Joel A. Muniz, Raquel S. Moura

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Abstract

Horses kept in stables may exhibit undesirable behaviours and stress during police service. The objective of this study was to evaluate the influence of confinement, i.e., time in stalls, on horse behaviour and welfare employed by mounted patrols in urban areas. Eight adult horses were subjected to one of two types of confinement during 16days, namely: total confinement (TC – 24h in a stall) and partial confinement (PC – 12h in a stall and 12h free in a paddock); then the treatments were reversed. Mounted patrols were conducted in pairs, with one animal from each treatment group, for six hours every other day in a scheme of five 40-min rides interspersed with four 20-min rest periods. Animal behaviour was evaluated by applying direct coded focal observations (SA – standing alert, SC – standing calm, M – movement, EF – eating forage, DW – drinking water, V – vocalizing, SI – positive or negative social interactions, S – stereotypies, and O – others) for three time periods on non-work days, and during rest periods of the last patrol day for each experimental stage. Behaviours were assessed through a questionnaire (A – alert, C – curious, D – distracted, Dr – drowsy, SI – socially interactive, F – fearful, and N – nervous), by the military personnel during patrols. Heart rate (HR), HR variability (SDNN, VLF, LF, HF, and LF/HF), blood count, and cortisol levels were determined on the first and last non-work day and on the first, third, and seventh day of patrolling. The experiment was performed under a randomized block design, and the data were compared by Tukey’s test using SAS statistical software (P

Publication Title Applied Animal Behaviour Science
Volume 184
Pages 51-58
ISBN/ISSN 0168-1591
DOI https://doi.org/10.1016/j.applanim.2016.08.014
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Tags
  1. Behavior and behavior mechanisms
  2. Heart rate
  3. Horses
  4. Police
  5. Stress