Investigating how those responsible for the care of nonhuman animals understand the concept of animal welfare is important for animal welfare improvement. In-depth interviews with 31 equine stakeholders were used to explore their perceptions and understanding of welfare. The results showed the stakeholders understood the concept of welfare in 4 ways. Firstly, welfare was understood in terms of the provision of resources—for example, food. Secondly, a “horse-centered” understanding of welfare was articulated; this understanding included the horses' mental state and was linked to natural behavior. Thirdly, the word welfare had negative connotations, and for some, good welfare was achieved through avoidance of negative states. Finally, interviewees discussed incidents that occurred in their own familiar contexts but suggested that these were not welfare problems. Evidence indicated that the ways in which equine stakeholders understood the concept of welfare might have been acting as a barrier to the alleviation of some equine welfare problems. There is a need for strategies aimed at improving equine welfare to consider stakeholder constructs of welfare and the ways in which these constructs are generated and acted upon.
|Journal of Applied Animal Welfare Science
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