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Study Identifies Causes for Misbehavior in Pony Club Mounts

Researchers recently identified risk factors for bad behavior in a population of Pony Club horses.

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Poorly behaved or nappy horses are no laughing matter, and in some cases, the causes of the delinquency remains unknown. But a team of Australia-based researchers recently completed a study that identified some risk factors for bad behavior in a population of Pony Club horses.

"Misbehavior, defined as unwelcome behavior exhibited by a horse when being handles or ridden, is important not only because it reduces rider enjoyment, but because it is a serious threat to rider safety–especially children–and contributes to horse wastage in the form of sale, retirement, or euthanasia," explained Petra Buckley, BVSc, DipVetClinStud, MVetClinStud, MACVSc, PhD, from the School of Agriculture and Veterinary Sciences at Charles Sturt University in Wagga Wagga, New South Wales.

To better understand factors that contribute to misbehavior, Buckley and colleagues collected information from 84 Pony Club horses belonging to 41 families between June 2000 and July 2001. Owners were asked to keep daily records of housing, exercise, nutrition, healthcare, disease status, and any instances of horse misbehavior. All horses were examined by a veterinarian monthly.

Misbehavior occurred in 50 out of 84 horses at least once over the year-long study. More than half of this owner-recorded misbehavior was considered dangerous with the potential for injury to horse and/or rider. The team associated an increased risk of misbehavior with horses that

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Written by:

Stacey Oke, MSc, DVM, is a practicing veterinarian and freelance medical writer and editor. She is interested in both large and small animals, as well as complementary and alternative medicine. Since 2005, she’s worked as a research consultant for nutritional supplement companies, assisted physicians and veterinarians in publishing research articles and textbooks, and written for a number of educational magazines and websites.

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