REASON FOR PERFORMING STUDY: Studies on the prevalence and predisposing factors of bite and kick injuries in horses have not been reported in a population-based data sample. OBJECTIVES: To investigate the prevalence of bite and kick injuries in horses and associated risk factors in a representative sample of horses in Switzerland.
METHODS: A questionnaire on the incidence of disease and injury, which included the frequency of bite and kick injuries and their association with breed, housing, use and feeding regime, was sent to 2559 horse owners randomly selected throughout Switzerland.
RESULTS: The data of 2912 horses with 897 disorders diagnosed by a veterinarian were analysed. There were 231 injuries, 50 (21.6%) caused by a bite or kick from another horse; this number corresponded to 5.6% of all diseases and injuries and concerned only 1.7% of all the horses evaluated. Warmblood, Thoroughbred and Arabian horses had a 4.3 times higher risk of bite or kick injuries than horses of other breeds. Eighteen per cent of injuries were associated with a change in housing management and occurred regardless of whether horses were kept in groups permanently or sporadically.
CONCLUSIONS AND POTENTIAL RELEVANCE: A stable group hierarchy and a housing system that provides adequate space and is adapted to horse-specific behaviour are important factors in prevention and kick and bite injuries