Science & Equine

  • Logo Mono
Written by Marly Coppens
Posted in Social behavior

Image by:

Chronic back pain and aggression in horses

This study investigated if there was an association between vertebral problems, assessed by chiropractic examination, and behavioural problems like aggressiveness towards humans assessed by using standardized behavioural tests.

59 riding school horses of varied ages and sexes, living under similar conditions were tested. Horse back examination was based on bony and soft tissue manual palpation for vertebral stiffness based on spinal mobilisation and palpable areas of muscle hypertonicity. Horses were classified by an experienced and licensed chiropractor as totally unaffected, slightly affected or severely affected.

Horses underwent 5 standardized behavioural tests, like: a motionless person test, an approach contact test, a sudden approach test, a saddle test and a halter fitting test. Threats consisted of ears laid backwards, trying to bite, showing teeth, stretching the neck.

The findings show a clear relationship between vertebral problems, assumed to indicate the presence of chronic back pain, and aggressiveness. This may indicate that chronic discomfort or potential pain and aggression are related. Therefor, this study could increase awareness of this relationship. 

Might this outcome change the perception of humans towards ‘‘bad-tempered’’ horses? Share your opinion by replying below this article.

> From: Fureix et al., PLoS ONE 5 (8) (2010) e12434. All rights reserved to Fureix et al.. Click here for the online summary.

Karina Bech Gleerup
Image by: Karina Bech Gleerup

About the author of this summary:

More summaries from this author