Equine temperament examination through novel object exposure: Suitability for equine-assisted activities and therapies

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McDonald, Madeline
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University Honors College, Middle Tennessee State University
Equine-assisted activities and therapies (EAAT) encompass a realm of programs designed to utilize the horse in a therapeutic capacity to help children and adults. It is important to have suitable horses for these programs, but there are no set tests to determine whether a particular mount is acceptable. Several methods were tested to see which was most suitable to determine the best horses to use for EAAT during novel object reactivity test using a mechanical cow training system (cowtracs), tarp, or fog machine. Heart rate data, live video observation, behaviorally defined adjective (BDA) scores were recorded and compared to an instructor suitability score sheet. Results suggest that the tarp reactivity test with heart rate data is the best indicators of suitability, while the cowtracs and fog machine proved to be less effective. It may be important to use reactivity objects that the horse may encounter during its use as a therapy animal
horse, behavior, therapy, EAAT, novel, temperament, heart rate