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Horses Could Perceive Riding Differently Depending on the Way They Express Poor Welfare in the Stable

Abstract : This study investigated the relationships between four behavioral and postural indicators of a compromised welfare state in loose boxes (stereotypies, aggressive behaviors toward humans, withdrawn posture reflecting unresponsiveness to the environment, and alert posture indicating hypervigilance) and the way horses perceived riding. This perception was inferred using a survey completed by the usual riding instructor and during a standardized riding session (assessment of behaviors and postures, qualitative behavior assessment (QBA) and characterization of the horses' locomotion using an inertial measurement unit). In accordance with ear and tail positions and the QBA, stereotypic and the most hypervigilant horses in loose boxes seemed to experience a more negative affective state during the riding session compared with nonstereotypic and less hypervigilant animals (P < .02 in all cases). Horses which were aggressive toward humans in loose boxes had higher scores regarding the occurrence of discomfort and defensive behaviors on the survey than nonaggressive horses (P = .03). They also presented higher dorsoventral accelerations at a canter during the riding session (P = .03), requiring the rider to increase his spinal movement (P = .005). These results suggest that aggressive horses may be harder to ride than nonaggressive animals. The expression of unresponsiveness to the environment in loose boxes was related to more reluctance to move forward, as assessed in the survey (P = .006). This study suggests that a compromised welfare state in the stable is related to horses having a more negative perception of riding. This perception could vary depending on the expression of poor welfare.
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https://hal-agrosup-dijon.archives-ouvertes.fr/hal-02987164
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Submitted on : Tuesday, November 3, 2020 - 3:59:02 PM
Last modification on : Wednesday, November 4, 2020 - 11:11:44 AM

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Alice Ruet, Sophie Biau, Cécile Arnould, Patrick Galloux, Alexandra Destrez, et al.. Horses Could Perceive Riding Differently Depending on the Way They Express Poor Welfare in the Stable. Journal of Equine Veterinary Science, WB Saunders, 2020, 94, pp.103206. ⟨10.1016/j.jevs.2020.103206⟩. ⟨hal-02987164⟩

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