Rescue & Welfare

A new study will investigate how to optimize the welfare of horses being transported by air. Horses are among the most travelled domestic species, and although there has been plenty of research into road travel, less is known about how they cope with travelling by air.

Developing guidelines for health and well-being of horses transported by air.

By Mark Andrews

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How do you tell if your horse is in pain? You may just know straight away that something is not right. But people are not always able to correctly interpret the signs of pain displayed by horses and donkeys. After all, having evolved as prey animals, it is in their interest not to show signs of pain that might bring them to the attention of a predator looking for its next meal.

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A devastating demand for donkey hides is decimating the donkey population in Africa, and threatening the livelihoods of millions of the world’s poorest and most marginalized people. Kisima is a widow living in Nimalat, Kenya, and raises her nine children alone. She earns money through selling charcoal at the market and, to do so, she is completely dependent on her two donkeys.

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Severe fires in recent years have exposed humans and animals to unhealthy air containing wildfire smoke and particulates. These particulates can build up in the respiratory system, causing a number of health problems including burning eyes, runny noses, and illnesses such as bronchitis. They can also aggravate heart and lung diseases such as congestive heart failure, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, emphysema, and asthma.

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A Close Look at the Horse-Human Relationship - Recently, animal rights activists have amplified conversations regarding the proper treatment of the precious animals with whom we share our planet and homes. While animal rights organizations have improved the welfare of animals within many industries, their focus has recently begun to shift towards the equestrian community. Many animal rights activists, such as People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA), have announced arguments against the use of horses for any and all riding purposes.

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How do we see our industry? How would equine industry members describe the welfare status of Canadian horses? Which horses do they believe are the most at risk? And what do they believe threatens horse welfare?

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In an effort to narrow down the conversation, as the topic of consent applies to countless aspects of our horse-human relationship, I decided to focus on consent around touch, because horses are one of our most-touched domesticated animals. This is a fascinating thing, given that in a feral or wild setting, horses might rarely ever touch each other, and would typically not do so without first either giving or receiving permission in the form of behavioural cues. In domestication, we touch horses to halter, groom, saddle, bridle, ride, train, bathe, treat, and often just to feed them. For most horses this happens numerous times every day and is often combined with a restraint of some kind, like a halter, meaning they are not able to move away from this touch.

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Riding Vactions in California with Jec Ballou