An observational evaluation of stress in horses during therapeutic riding sessions
Therapeutic riding (TR) provides benefits to participants with cognitive and physical disabilities. Horses participating in TR programs are typically selected because of their calm temperament and may not show obvious signs of stress. However, the welfare of horses in TR programs is an important aspect when evaluating the delivery of the program, to ensure sustainability. The aim of this study was to assess stress levels in TR horses during scheduled sessions. The research was carried out during normal therapeutic horseback riding lessons designed for participants with intellectual and developmental disabilities within a certified program. There were 4 horses in the study who participated in multiple lessons each week over an 8-week period. Behavior scores, salivary cortisol, and heart rate variability measures were analyzed as measures of stress during baseline, mounting and dismounting. Results indicated that physiologic and behavioral measures of stress were increased during mounting and dismounting compared to baseline levels. Ethologically sound solutions to alleviate stress during TR activities is warranted to improve equine welfare.
|Publication Title||Journal of Veterinary Behavior: Clinical Applications and Research|
|Notes||Cited Reference Count: 59 ref.0ElsevierNew York, USA|
|Author Address||Departments of Health Management (McDuffee and Carr) and Applied Human Sciences (Montelpare) University of Prince Edward Island, Charlottetown, Prince Edward Island, Canada.firstname.lastname@example.org|
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