Study: Equestrians’ Views Vary on What Constitutes Good, Bad Horse Welfare
If there’s one thing horse owners aren’t short on, it’s opinions. From feed types and housing options to horse health maintenance and even a favorite pitchfork, equestrians tend to know what they believe and why. This even extends to what constitutes good or bad horse welfare—not everyone agrees on what’s good and bad for horses. Those views, researchers recently confirmed, have a lot to do with peoples’ personal beliefs and experiences.
“The idea of welfare is an important concept to anyone dealing with animals, but what welfare is, or what comprises good or poor welfare, seems to be very subjective and influenced by personal, cultural, or societal values,” said Katrina Merkies, PhD, associate professor and equine program coordinator at the University of Guelph, in Ontario, Canada.
In a recent study, Merkies and colleagues asked 14 industry professionals to consider a series of 12 scenarios involving horses and owners, each of which described a situation in which horse welfare might (or might not) be compromised. For example, one scenario told the story of a lame horse at a
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