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Rider effects on horses’ conflict behaviour, rein tension, physiological measures and rideability scores

Christensen, Janne Winther and Munk, Rikke and Hawson, Lesley and Palme, Rupert and Larsen, Torben and Egenvall, Agneta and König von Borstel, Uta U. and Rørvang, Maria Vilain (2021). Rider effects on horses’ conflict behaviour, rein tension, physiological measures and rideability scores. Applied Animal Behaviour Science. 234 , 105184
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Abstract

Many breeding organisations include a subjective scoring of rideability by a professional rider into their evaluation of sports horses, but the consistency and reliability of the scoring system is debateable. The aim of this study was to investigate (i) whether professional riders agree in their scoring of rideability, and (ii) whether rideability scores are affected by rein tension, horse conflict behaviour, heart rate, and salivary cortisol, and (iii) whether riders induce different levels of conflict behaviour and physiological responses in the horses. Ten professional, female riders each rode 10 dressage horses (level M German scale; n = 100 combinations) through a standardised dressage test (10 min warm-up followed by a 4-min test) and subsequently scored the horses for rideability on the official 1–10 scale (1 = poor to 10 = excellent) from the Danish Riding Federation. Rein tension, horse heart rate, saliva cortisol and conflict behaviour were measured for each rider-horse pair. The riders were inconsistent in their scoring of rideability to the individual horses, e.g. scores for one of the horses ranged from 1 to 8. There was a significant effect of rider (P = 0.003) and the frequency of conflict behaviour (undesired head movements: P < 0.001, breaking the gait: P = 0.013, and other evasive behaviour: P = 0.032) on rideability scores, i.e. the more conflict behaviour the lower the score. There was no significant effect of rein tension and the physiological measures on rideability scores. However, there was a significant effect of rider on rein tension, horses’ heart rate and increases in saliva cortisol concentrations and a tendency for some types of conflict behaviour, suggesting that some riders induced more discomfort in the horses. Future studies could help shed light on which elements of riding style are particularly important for sports horse welfare. In conclusion, this study found a large variation in rideability scores assigned to ten sports horses by ten professional riders. Rideability scores were dependent on the level of horse conflict behaviour, but not rein tension and physiological measures. Further studies are needed to improve the objectivity, consistency and reliability of rideability assessment of sports horses.

Authors/Creators:Christensen, Janne Winther and Munk, Rikke and Hawson, Lesley and Palme, Rupert and Larsen, Torben and Egenvall, Agneta and König von Borstel, Uta U. and Rørvang, Maria Vilain
Title:Rider effects on horses’ conflict behaviour, rein tension, physiological measures and rideability scores
Series Name/Journal:Applied Animal Behaviour Science
Year of publishing :2021
Volume:234
Article number:105184
Number of Pages:7
ISSN:0168-1591
Language:English
Publication Type:Journal article
Article category:Scientific peer reviewed
Version:Published version
Copyright:Creative Commons: Attribution 4.0
Full Text Status:Public
Subjects:(A) Swedish standard research categories 2011 > 4 Agricultural Sciences > 403 Veterinary Science > Clinical Science
Keywords:Equitation science, Heart rate, Horse riding, Sport horse, Temperament, Training cues
URN:NBN:urn:nbn:se:slu:epsilon-p-109522
Permanent URL:
http://urn.kb.se/resolve?urn=urn:nbn:se:slu:epsilon-p-109522
Additional ID:
Type of IDID
DOI10.1016/j.applanim.2020.105184
ID Code:21232
Faculty:VH - Faculty of Veterinary Medicine and Animal Science
LTV - Fakulteten för landskapsarkitektur, trädgårds- och växtproduktionsvetenskap
Department:(VH) > Dept. of Clinical Sciences
(LTJ, LTV) > Department of Biosystems and Technology (from 130101)
Deposited By: SLUpub Connector
Deposited On:14 Jan 2021 16:23
Metadata Last Modified:14 Jan 2021 16:31

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