Rescue & Welfare

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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.

ospca dr kendra coulter, ontario society for the prevention of cruelty to animals new public funding

“Continuity and change in animal protection work and policy” was the topic presented by Dr. Kendra Coulter at the University of Guelph on January 22, 2020. Coulter is the Chair of the Department of Labour Studies at Brock University and holds the Chancellor’s Chair for Research Excellence. Her research projects have studied humane jobs for both people and animals.

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What is it and how can it help horses and riders? Riders train horses to act in ways they deem positive, whether it’s jumping a jump, walking down a trail, or performing movements in an arena. But to train horses effectively and safely, riders, trainers, and coaches must understand how they learn and react. Over the past 15 years, equine scientists have researched the learning theory of horses — how horses process, retain knowledge, and learn. Equitation science applies this evidence-based learning theory of horses to horse training, and explains horse behaviour based on horses being horses – without attributing human emotions, ways of thinking, or behaviour, to them. It’s a burgeoning field that is changing the way many riders and trainers think and act.

chuckwagon stampede horse deaths, calgary stampede deaths

Few equestrian sports fuel as much drama and controversy as the chuckwagon races at the Calgary Stampede, and this year was no exception. During the GMC Rangeland Derby Chuckwagon Races, which ran in nine heats of four chuckwagons per heat each night from July 5 to 14, 2019, six horses died and several were injured over the ten days of racing that sparked critical and heated backlash from the public.

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What would you list as a threat to the welfare of horses in Canada? What actions could we take to fix this? Questions like these may not always be the first thing on the mind of most horse lovers, but they are extremely important to the continued success and growth of Canada’s horse industry. Recent research led by Cordelie DuBois and Dr. Katrina Merkies at the University of Guelph has shed light on the answers to these questions and more, giving us a better picture of the perceptions of welfare in the Canadian horse industry.

Music Helps Horses, equine music therapy, horse music therapy, polish equine research, soft music helps horses, janet marlow pet acoustics, dr. juliet m. getty phd, music therapy for horses

Researchers from Poland¹ set out to determine the effect of music played in the barn, on the emotional state of race horses. Many horse owners have found that music has an apparent calming effect on fear, aggression, and overall stress. Race horses, in particular, have demands of increased cardiac activity and speed that may be improved through music exposure.

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