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Pilot study of the influence of equine assisted therapy on physiological and behavioral parameters related to welfare of horses and patients

By M. Dolores Ayala, A. Carrillo, P. Iniesta, P. Ferrer

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Abstract

Different welfare indicators were studied in three patients with psychomotor alterations and in two horses throughout 9-10 equine assisted therapy sessions in each patient. In horses, heart and respiratory rates, blood pressure, temperature and behavioral signs were studied. In patients, heart rate, oxygen saturation, temperature, sleep quality, psychomotor and emotional parameters were analyzed. Data collection was recorded in the anticipatory phase (15 min before the start of the session), two interaction phases (after 30 min of horse-patient interaction on the ground and on horseback, respectively) and the recovery phase (15 min after the end of the session). During the anticipatory phase, most of physiological parameters of patients and horses and the stress behavioral signs of horses increased, followed by a relaxing phase during the horse-patient interaction on the ground. In horse-patient riding phase the heart and respiratory rates of the horses again increased. These results showed that the horses did not seem to suffer stress attributable to the therapy sessions, but only an increase in their parameters associated with activity and external stimuli. The patients improved their gross and fine motor skills, their cognitive and perceptual-sensitive parameters and it led to an improvement in the life quality of their families.

Publication Title Animals
Volume 11
Issue 12
ISBN/ISSN 2076-2615
DOI 10.3390/ani11123527
Author Address Department of Anatomy and Comparative Pathological Anatomy, Faculty of Veterinary, Campus of Espinardo, University of Murcia, 30100 Murcia, Spain.mdayala@um.es andrea.carrillo1@um.es pilicainiesta@gmail.com p.f.ferrer@hotmail.com
Additional Language English
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Tags
  1. Animal-assisted therapies
  2. Animal behavior
  3. Animal physiology
  4. Animals
  5. Animal welfare
  6. Behavioral research
  7. Biochemistry
  8. Blood
  9. Body temperature
  10. Cognition
  11. Emotions
  12. Europe
  13. Health care
  14. Heart rate
  15. Horses
  16. Human development
  17. Humans
  18. Income
  19. Mammals
  20. Mediterranean region
  21. Men
  22. OECD countries
  23. open access
  24. physiology
  25. Physiology and biochemistry
  26. Pressure
  27. Primates
  28. Psychiatry and psychology
  29. Quality of life
  30. Respiration
  31. skills
  32. sleep
  33. social anthropology
  34. Social psychology and social anthropology
  35. Spain
  36. stimuli
  37. Stress
  38. Stress response
  39. ungulates
  40. vertebrates
  41. Veterinary sciences
Badges
  1. open access