How recognition of ridden horse pain behaviour has proved its usefulness in the advancement of equine welfare and performance

Ridden Horse Pain Ethogram Part 2:

Application of the Ridden Horse Pain Ethogram in the field

The series of seven developmental studies produced a Ridden Horse Pain Ethogram (RHpE) that provided a useful tool for determining the presence of musculoskeletal pain in ridden horses performing poorly. The next step was to determine if it could enhance diagnostic skills by actually using it in the field. A further five studies applied the RHpE in a wide range of both clinical and research settings, proving its usefulness in the advancement of equine welfare and performance.

This series of five studies has clearly demonstrated that the Ridden Horse Pain Ethogram is an invaluable tool that can be easily applied in a wide range of settings in the field. This seminal work has highlighted the urgent need for education of all stakeholders in the equine sector including veterinarians, coaches, saddle fitters and other professional practitioners, riders and horse owners. The RHpE is a game-changer, but how quickly we can make a positive, permanent impact on the welfare and performance of every ridden horse depends on every one of us doing our best to educate those around us.

Further work is ongoing and will be reported on as results are published. Studies of gait abnormalities, rider skill, behaviour during tacking-up and elite event horse performance are all producing fascinating results and vital new information, which will be shared in the next chapters.

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Photo credit: Dr Sue Dyson – Gait abnormality in canter: Croup high, the head is slightly tilted, the right ear is back and there is an intense stare