Risk factors for health disorders in sport & leisure horses
In this study almost 3000 horses in the Netherlands were clinically examined by trained assessors. The main disorders found during the assessments: body condition (18,8% fat body condition and 6,4% poor body condition), locomotion (14,5% exhibeted irregularity of locomotion and 4,8% were lame), back palpation (22,6% of the horses had a light response and 8,4% a moderate to severe response), mouth problems (6,8%) and ocular discharge (12%).
Keeping horses in a stabled environment and using them for riding and driving requires a consideration about how the environment and activities affect their physical and mental welfare. Horses used for riding lessons were almost two times more at risk to develop moderate to severe back pain compaired to horses used for recreation or competition. In comparison to geldings, mares had a higher risk for back pain.
Unfortunately, discomfort or pain in horses is often not recognized by the owner. Horses that are experiencing pain often continue to be ridden. By developing a valid welfare monitoring system for the horse industry, the welfare of horses can be increased. The results of this study may provide a basis for horse welfare and health programs.
> From: Visser, E.K. et al., J. Anim. Sci. 2014.92 (2017) 844-855. All rights reserved to ASAS. Click here for the online summary.