Evaluation of the Welfare of the Lesson Horse used for Equine Assisted Activities and Therapies

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Nobbe, Holly
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Middle Tennessee State University
The welfare of horses used in Equine Assisted Activities and Therapies (EAAT) has long been debated due to a lack of agreement in interpreting horse behavior, specifically in response to stress factors. This study was constructed to analyze changes in heart rate to determine if horses experienced identifiable stress responses when used in an EAAT lesson program. Eight healthy, regularly working therapeutic riding horses were randomly selected and monitored on two testing days. Both “stressful” and “relaxed” behavioral observations were recorded during lessons for each subject. Neither stress responses nor relaxed responses were affected by the number of lessons (P > 0.30) or the age of horses (P > 0.38) when horses participated in two lessons in a given day. Horses managed with proper care and well-being practices are well suited to participate in at least two EAAT lessons daily, as minimal stress responses were observed.
Behavior, Heart rates, Stress, Therapeutic riding horse