Accuracy of horse workload perception by owners when compared to published workload parameters

C. E. Hale, A. J. Hemmings, H. Randle

Research output: Contribution to journalMeeting Abstractpeer-review


A noted consequence of modern management of equids is that obesity is becoming ever more problematic. Over-consumption of a highly calorific diet, coupled with an increasingly sedentary lifestyle, appears to be instrumental. In order to accurately provide a suitable ration, the weight of the horse, plus the workload they are in must be considered. The aim of this study was to compare the level of work a horse was in, with the perceived level of work that the owner attributed. A face-to-face survey was carried out with owners of 1,207 horses. Owners were asked to state the level of workload their horse was in, the levels being thus: maintenance, light, medium, hard and very hard work. Each owner was then asked how many times per week they rode/worked their horse; the length of time each bout of work lasted, and the type of exercise the work formed. Using this information, each horse was assigned to one of the previously mentioned five workload categories, based on the description of each category stated in NRC (2007). Data were analysed using a Mann-Whitney U (Wilcoxon rank sum) test via Genstat 14. It was found that data were significantly different(U¼446317.5, d.f. ¼ 1206, P < 0.001), with the owner-perceived score being significantly higher than the actual score. It is therefore possible to conclude that horse owners in the UK significantly overestimate the amount of work that their horses are in, which may inturn, lead to over-feeding and confound the problems of obesity in the domestic horse population.


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