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Benefits of Animal Exposure on Veterinary Students' Understanding of Equine Behaviour and Self-Assessed Equine Handling Skills

By Lauréline Guinnefollau, Erica K. Gee, Charlotte F. Bolwell, Elizabeth J. Norman, Chris W. Rogers

Category Journal Articles
Abstract

Horses are one of the most dangerous animals veterinarians have to work with. For many
veterinary students, their first exposure to horses occurs during practical classes. To evaluate the
level of knowledge students have of equine behaviour and their equine handling competency when
entering the programme, 214 veterinary students (1st and 4th year) were recruited to participate
in a questionnaire. Participants were asked to choose one out of 12 terms that best represented
the a ective state of a horse in a picture, and to self-assess their equine handling skills. Half (n =
56/115) of the first-year students correctly interpreted the horse’s behaviour. The majority had (1) a
poor understanding of equine learning mechanisms and (2) poor self-rated equine handling skills.
A history of pet ownership (p = 0.027) and the presence of horses on their family property (p = 0.001)
were significantly associated with a correct understanding of equine behaviour. Fourth-year students
were three times more likely to accurately interpret the horse’s behaviour (p = 0.01) and rated their
handling skills higher than first-year students (p = 0.006). These results suggest that previous animal
experience confers a considerable advantage to interpret equine behaviour and highlight the critical
importance of practical training in the veterinary programme.

Submitter

Marcy Wilhelm-South

Purdue University

Date 2019
Publication Title Animals
Volume 9
Issue 9
Pages 13
Publisher MDPI
DOI 10.3390/ani9090620
URL https://www.mdpi.com/2076-2615/9/9/620
Language English
Additional Language English
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Tags
  1. Animal behavior
  2. Animal roles
  3. Animal welfare
  4. Handling
  5. Horses
  6. Mammals
  7. open access
  8. Pets and companion animals
  9. Veterinarians
  10. Veterinary students
Badges
  1. open access