الإثنين 27 مايو 2024

Therapeutic Riding Not Stressful For Horses

موقع أيام نيوز

Therapeutic horse riding may be used in the management of various anxiety disorders. But little is known about how these programs affect the stress levels in horses.

A University of Missouri study has revealed that horses ridden by veterans with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) did not have undue physiological stress responses, nor did they exhibit behavioural stress while participating in a veterans’ therapy program.

“Estimates have shown that approximately 6,300 horses globally work in therapeutic horseback riding (THR) programs at more than 800 centers,” said Rebecca Johnson, a professor in the University of Missouri College of Veterinary Medicine, and the Millsap Professor of Gerontological Nursing in the Sinclair School of Nursing. “While there is a growing body of literature demonstrating the beneficial outcomes from THR programs for people with developmental, cognitive, and psychosocial disabilities, such as veterans with PTSD, it is imperative that we consider horse stress levels to ensure their health and welfare. Our study was designed to assess the differences in both physiological stress levels and behavioral stress responses while being ridden by veterans in these programs or by experienced riders.”



Two groups were recruited for the study: veterans who were diagnosed with PTSD, and healthy, experienced riders. Each individual horse was ridden in accordance with an approved program for approximately 60 minutes weekly at the same time of day for six weeks. Veterans learned basic horseback riding skills as well as how to apply riding tack to the horse, and how to mount and dismount. Experienced riders were asked to go through the same actions as the veterans

In order to measure physiological stressors on the horses, blood samples were collected 30 minutes before classes started, after the riding tack was applied to the horse, and after the riding class at the first, third, and sixth weeks. Cortisol, an indicator of stress in the body, was measured as well as glucose concentrations and other measurements.