Honors: All College Participants

Title

Evaluation of Equine Stress Behaviors as they Pertain to Riding Programs

Academic Level at Time of Presentation

Senior

Major

Animal/Equine Science

Minor

N/A

List all Project Mentors & Advisor(s)

Dr. Shea Porr; Dr. Amanda Davis

Presentation Format

Oral Presentation

Abstract/Description

This project reviewed existing literature to develop a more applicable and easy to use ethogram (equine behavior chart), which could become a standard for riding programs to assess the safety and stress loads of program horses. Behaviors within the rubric included variant head movements, mouth gestures, ear gestures, tail gestures, locomotor behavior, and miscellaneous changes such as eye visibility (Table 4). The model developed was modified from behavior rubrics in Kaiser et al. (2006) and Denderen (PhD Dissertation), and then used to analyze the efficiency of grading horse behavior from a live observation compared to reviewing video footage. Data was collected from a total of nine horses used within a basic university riding class. There were two days of data collection contained within a four-week period. Three audio recordings were used to analyze horses for one minute tacking, three sets of two minutes riding, and one minute un-tacking. Additionally, video was taken of each horse for subsequent evaluation. Transcriptions from the audio recordings were later compared to video review to assess accuracy improvement with video incorporation. When analyzing videos, pausing was permitted for note taking, however rewinding was not. The behavior rubric was determined an efficient and thorough guide for observing horse behavior. Video assessment allowed for increased accuracy. Applying the rubric to various riding programs to further test its adaptability would be ideal for future study. Rubric accuracy could be improved through increased familiarity of observers with the rubric, along with analyzing blood cortisol concentrations and heart rate variability.

Location

Classroom 211, Waterfield Library

Start Date

November 2016

End Date

November 2016

Affiliations

Honors Thesis

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Nov 15th, 1:30 PM Nov 15th, 3:30 PM

Evaluation of Equine Stress Behaviors as they Pertain to Riding Programs

Classroom 211, Waterfield Library

This project reviewed existing literature to develop a more applicable and easy to use ethogram (equine behavior chart), which could become a standard for riding programs to assess the safety and stress loads of program horses. Behaviors within the rubric included variant head movements, mouth gestures, ear gestures, tail gestures, locomotor behavior, and miscellaneous changes such as eye visibility (Table 4). The model developed was modified from behavior rubrics in Kaiser et al. (2006) and Denderen (PhD Dissertation), and then used to analyze the efficiency of grading horse behavior from a live observation compared to reviewing video footage. Data was collected from a total of nine horses used within a basic university riding class. There were two days of data collection contained within a four-week period. Three audio recordings were used to analyze horses for one minute tacking, three sets of two minutes riding, and one minute un-tacking. Additionally, video was taken of each horse for subsequent evaluation. Transcriptions from the audio recordings were later compared to video review to assess accuracy improvement with video incorporation. When analyzing videos, pausing was permitted for note taking, however rewinding was not. The behavior rubric was determined an efficient and thorough guide for observing horse behavior. Video assessment allowed for increased accuracy. Applying the rubric to various riding programs to further test its adaptability would be ideal for future study. Rubric accuracy could be improved through increased familiarity of observers with the rubric, along with analyzing blood cortisol concentrations and heart rate variability.