Horse misbehavior as a cause of poor performance

Petra Buckley, John Morton, David J. Buckley, Glen T. Coleman

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The role of behavior in horse performance has not been described in the veterinary literature. The aim was to define and profile the performance of Pony Club horses in two phases.An exploratory survey revealed horse misbehavior as a cause of poor performance. Risk factor analysis for misbehavior involved collecting daily exercise and misbehavior data over 13 months using monthly visits to 84 Pony Clubhorses and owner-kept diaries.Horses were generally exercised infrequently and for shortperiods, with a median of six exercise days and 10 hours,respectively each horse-month. The daily incidence risk of misbehavior was 4.1%. The incidence risk was highest during schooling and competition (both 5.4%) - likely reflecting a challenge to horses - and lowest during pleasure riding(2.5%). More than half of all misbehavior events were classifiedas dangerous (high risk of injury). Risk factors for misbehavior included horse height (135-143.75 cm, IRR 4.98and 95% CI 1.56, 15.90), rider age (.14-19 yr, IRR 5.0,95% CI 1.27, 19.40), and horse breed, with Ponies (IRR 7.595% and CI 1.54, 36.45), cross bred horses (IRR 6.3, 95% CI2.25, 17.74) and other horse breeds (IRR 5.79, 95% CI 1.56,21.5) having incidence rate ratios (IRR) of misbehavior considerably higher than Thoroughbreds. We were unable to demonstrate a link between back pain and misbehavior.We defined horse performance as a horse meeting rider expectation. The combination of tall ponies challenged by teenage riders carried the highest misbehavior risk.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)219-219
Number of pages1
JournalJournal of Veterinary Behavior: clinical applications and research
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 2010


Dive into the research topics of 'Horse misbehavior as a cause of poor performance'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this