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Husbandry, use, and orthopedic health of horses owned by competitive and leisure riders in Switzerland


Dittmann, Marie-Theres; Latif, Selma N; Hefti, Ramona; Hartnack, Sonja; Hungerbühler, Valerie; Weishaupt, Michael A (2020). Husbandry, use, and orthopedic health of horses owned by competitive and leisure riders in Switzerland. Journal of Equine Veterinary Science, 91:103107.

Abstract

The use of horses in competitive sports receives increasing criticism from the public, mainly due to the potential for injury. However, it is unclear if orthopedic and other health issues are more common in competition horses than those in leisure horses. The aim of this study was to assess husbandry, use, and orthopedic health in Swiss riding horses and to compare these aspects between horses owned by self-identified competitive riders (CR) and leisure riders (LR) in Switzerland. A total of 237 owners completed an online survey providing information on their athletic ambitions, their horse’s husbandry, health, training, and tack. Two experienced veterinarians assessed gait irregularities, muscular development, and back pain in the horses and evaluated saddle fit. Compared with horses owned by competitive riders (CH), a higher proportion of horses kept by leisure riders (LH) were kept unshod, under more natural conditions, and turned out with other horses. LH were exercised less frequently, and LR trained less frequently with instructors. CR reported less time since the last saddle check and the use of more training aids during riding. No differences between the two groups could be found in orthopedic health, muscular development, or back pain, but LH had higher body condition scores and a slightly higher proportion of saddles with at least one fit problem. Our data revealed no increased prevalence of the assessed health problems in competition horses compared with leisure horses in Switzerland. However, suboptimal saddle fit and muscular development, back pain, and gait irregularity are frequent in both groups and deserve more attention.

Abstract

The use of horses in competitive sports receives increasing criticism from the public, mainly due to the potential for injury. However, it is unclear if orthopedic and other health issues are more common in competition horses than those in leisure horses. The aim of this study was to assess husbandry, use, and orthopedic health in Swiss riding horses and to compare these aspects between horses owned by self-identified competitive riders (CR) and leisure riders (LR) in Switzerland. A total of 237 owners completed an online survey providing information on their athletic ambitions, their horse’s husbandry, health, training, and tack. Two experienced veterinarians assessed gait irregularities, muscular development, and back pain in the horses and evaluated saddle fit. Compared with horses owned by competitive riders (CH), a higher proportion of horses kept by leisure riders (LH) were kept unshod, under more natural conditions, and turned out with other horses. LH were exercised less frequently, and LR trained less frequently with instructors. CR reported less time since the last saddle check and the use of more training aids during riding. No differences between the two groups could be found in orthopedic health, muscular development, or back pain, but LH had higher body condition scores and a slightly higher proportion of saddles with at least one fit problem. Our data revealed no increased prevalence of the assessed health problems in competition horses compared with leisure horses in Switzerland. However, suboptimal saddle fit and muscular development, back pain, and gait irregularity are frequent in both groups and deserve more attention.

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Additional indexing

Item Type:Journal Article, refereed, original work
Communities & Collections:05 Vetsuisse Faculty > Veterinary Clinic > Equine Department
05 Vetsuisse Faculty > Chair in Veterinary Epidemiology
Dewey Decimal Classification:570 Life sciences; biology
610 Medicine & health
Scopus Subject Areas:Health Sciences > Equine
Uncontrolled Keywords:Equine
Language:English
Date:1 August 2020
Deposited On:02 Sep 2020 18:56
Last Modified:30 Nov 2020 16:46
Publisher:Elsevier
ISSN:0737-0806
OA Status:Closed
Publisher DOI:https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jevs.2020.103107
PubMed ID:32684252
Project Information:
  • : FunderWalter Haefner Foundation
  • : Grant ID
  • : Project Title
  • : FunderFederal Food Safety and Veterinary Office
  • : Grant ID
  • : Project Title
  • : FunderStiftung pro Pferd
  • : Grant ID
  • : Project Title
  • : FunderForschungskredit of the University of Zurich
  • : Grant IDFK-19-052
  • : Project Title

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