Study: Biosecurity, Delayed Euthanasia Top Equine Welfare Issues

U.K. researchers ranked welfare issues affecting the larger equine population as well as individual horses. This is what they found.
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Study: Biosecurity, Delayed Euthanasia Top Equine Welfare Issues
By better defining the top priorities for equine welfare in 2020, scientists and charities alike can focus their efforts in more streamlined—and useful—ways, said the Scottish scientists who worked on the study. | Photo: iStock
Eighty.

More than 80 different serious welfare issues in the horse world—all considered top priority depending on with whom you speak. How can anyone effectively tackle such a large list of welfare concerns?

U.K. researchers recently decided to prioritize those issues using what’s known as a “Delphi technique”—a scientific method that formalizes various expert opinions and condenses them into something more manageable. By better defining the top priorities for equine welfare in 2020, scientists and charities alike can focus their efforts in more streamlined—and useful—ways, said the Scottish scientists who worked on the study.

“For academics, charities, and funders of research, it can be a bit overwhelming to decide where efforts should be focused to have the biggest impact on horse welfare,” said Cathy Dwyer, PhD, of the Royal (Dick) School of Veterinary Studies at the University of Edinburgh, in Scotland. “Prioritizing can help them to hone in on strategies to tackle the different issues,” such as research, education, policy/legislative changes, etc., she said. “Otherwise, we might all focus on our own ‘pet projects,’ which might not have a big impact on horse welfare more broadly

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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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