الخميس 18 يوليو 2024

Fear Testing of Foals May Help Increase Safety

موقع أيام نيوز

A recently published study reports that it is possible to identify fearful horses at an early age prior to weaning from the dam by means of an objective fear test. This offers a better opportunity to ensure that the most fearful horses are trained by experienced people from the beginning which may help reduce riding accidents and improve horse welfare.
Fearfulness is an important aspect of horse temperament that is relevant to the horses usability for various purposes and of particular significance to the welfare and safety of both rider and horse. Fearful animals are often difficult and dangerous to handle. One of the most frequent causes of riding accidents is the horse being frightened. According to statistics from the Danish Accident Analysis Group at Odense University Hospital riding is the most dangerous leisure activity when looking at the severity of personal injuries and victims are often children and teenagers.

Some riding accidents are purely accidental such as when the horse stumbles and falls. This kind of accident can be difficult to foresee. However we can actually do something about the large number of accidents that happen when horses get frightened. If we can identify the horses that are most likely to show fear reactions early in life we can place them in capable hands to give them correct training from the beginning. In that way it will likely be possible to avoid many serious accidents.
In principle all horses can be trained not to take flight when frightened but it takes a lot of training time and knowledge about learning theory and appropriate habituation methods. Therefore it often ends badly if the very fearful horse finds itself in unexperienced hands and thus is not met with the correct understanding and training
A Rare LongTerm Study
The study was conducted over three years during which a group of stallions was studied from foal to adult. The aim was to study whether the behavioural and physiological fear reactions that foals show during fear tests when they are around five months old are similar to their reactions in fear tests during their adult life.
The study included 25 Danish Warmblood stallions from a private stud. The foals were kept with their dams on large pastures until weaning and remained relatively unhandled until training for the first test at five months of age. All foals were weaned together at the age of seven to nine months and were kept