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Qualitative behavioral assessment (QBA) of horses competing in a 160 km endurance ride

Dorman, C., Barnes, A.ORCID: 0000-0002-7227-230X and Fleming, P.ORCID: 0000-0002-0626-3851 (2010) Qualitative behavioral assessment (QBA) of horses competing in a 160 km endurance ride. Journal of Veterinary Behavior: Clinical Applications and Research, 5 (4). p. 212.

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The behavior of competing endurance horses was assessed using qualitative measures. Ten horses competing in a 160 km endurance ride were videoed at their veterinary examinations pre-ride, mid-way through, and at the end of the ride. The horses were the top four finishers, four slower finishers, and two that were eliminated during the ride, one for lameness and one for metabolic reasons. Thirty-three observers used free choice profiling to generate descriptive terms of horse behavior then watched video clips from the ride, and scored each horse using their own terms. Generalized Procrustes Analysis was performed and there was significant consensus between observers (55.66% of variation was explained by the consensus profile, which was different from 100 randomly generated profiles, P < 0.001). Three main dimensions of behavior were detected. The two extremes of each dimension were labeled by assigning terms more frequently used by observers: Dimension 1 was labeled agitated/relaxed, Dimension 2 excited/tired, while Dimension 3 appeared to indicate engagement of the horse with its environment. Individual differences were noted, and there were significant effects of time of ride, and of group of horses on the scores (analyzed by repeated measures ANOVA). The horses scored as significantly more “tired” (Dimension 2) mid-way through and at the end of the ride, compared to pre-ride (P < 0.05). The eight horses that finished the ride successfully scored as more “engaged” (Dimension 3) pre-ride than the two unsuccessful horses (P < 0.05). QBA may be a useful addition to evaluation of health and physiological measures of competing horses.

Item Type: Journal Article
Murdoch Affiliation(s): School of Veterinary and Biomedical Sciences
Publisher: Elsevier
Copyright: © 2010 Elsevier Inc
Notes: Abstract from the 5th International Conference of the International Society for Equitation Science (ISES)
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