Study: Many Riders Don’t Groom Horses Properly or Safely

Riders evaluated exhibited an average of six dangerous behaviors in a single grooming session, researchers found.
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Study: Many Riders Don’t Groom Horses Properly or Safely
All observed riders exhibited at least one dangerous behavior during a grooming session, and some showed up to 19 of these behaviors in a single setting. | Photo: iStock

Are you a good groomer? Recent statistics suggest you might not be. While riders usually appreciate the importance of grooming, the reality is they’re grooming in ways that are often unpleasant for the horse and even dangerous, French researchers said.

“Grooming isn’t just a one-time thing; it’s something we do with our horses regularly throughout their entire lives, so it’s important to do it right,” said Léa Lansade, PhD, of the French Horse and Riding Institute and the National Institute for Agricultural Research’s behavior science department, in Tours.

It’s also important for us, she added. One-quarter of all equestrian-related hospital visits result from accidents that occurred to a rider on the ground. “And the injuries are no less severe on the ground than from a fall—in fact, they’re often worse and include death,” Lansade said during her presentation at the 2017 French Equine Research Day, held earlier this year in Paris

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Passionate about horses and science from the time she was riding her first Shetland Pony in Texas, Christa Lesté-Lasserre writes about scientific research that contributes to a better understanding of all equids. After undergrad studies in science, journalism, and literature, she received a master’s degree in creative writing. Now based in France, she aims to present the most fascinating aspect of equine science: the story it creates. Follow Lesté-Lasserre on Twitter @christalestelas.

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