Research on Pain Scoring System for Ridden Horses Continues

This part of the study details behavioral pain markers, including head tossing, unwillingness to go forwards, and more.

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The Animal Health Trust (AHT), in Newmarket, U.K., is celebrating the anniversary of one of its most valued staff members, Sue Dyson, MA, Vet MB, PhD, DEO, FRCVS, with the release of her latest results from her ongoing equine facial expressions and behavior study.

As Head of Clinical Orthopaedics at the AHT, Dyson has dedicated 35 years to treating hundreds of patients each year in the clinic, as well as advancing the knowledge and techniques in equine medicine through her research. With a strong background as a rider and a particular interest in lameness and poor performance in sport horses, she has an in-depth knowledge and understanding of performance problems in horses of all disciplines.

Dyson’s ongoing study is aimed at improving our collective understanding of pain in equine athletes. She is developing a method by which owners, trainers, and equine professionals can recognize pain in their horses when they are ridden by assessing facial expression and behavior.

This study evolved from her clinical work, in which she recognized that too often poor performance has been labelled as “naughty” behavior or training problems rather than pain. As a result, cases are referred to her too late when injuries have become chronic, so problems are well developed and the opportunity for recovery is compromised

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