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J Appl Anim Welf Sci. 2003;6(4):263-74.

Trailer loading stress in horses: behavioral and physiological effects of nonaversive training (TTEAM).

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Resistance in the horse to trailer loading is a common source of stress and injury to horses and their handlers. The objective of this study was to determine whether nonaversive training based on the Tellington-Touch Equine Awareness Method (TTEAM; Tellington-Jones &Bruns, 1988) would decrease loading time and reduce stress during loading for horses with a history of reluctance to load. Ten horses described by their owners as "problem loaders" were subjected to pretraining and posttraining assessments of loading. Each assessment involved two 7-min loading attempts during which heart rate and saliva cortisol were measured. The training consisted of six 30-min sessions over a 2-week period during which the horse and owner participated in basic leading exercises with obstacles simulating aspects of trailering. Assessment showed heart rate and saliva cortisol increased significantly during loading as compared to baseline (p <.001 and p <.05, respectively). Reassessment after training showed a decrease in loading time (p <.02), reduced heart rate during loading (p <.002), and reduced saliva cortisol as compared to pretraining assessments. Seven "good loaders" also were subject to loading assessment for physiological comparison. Increases in heart rate during loading were significantly higher in the good loaders (p <.001). Nonaversive training simulating aspects of loading may effectively reduce loading time and stress during loading for horses with a history of resistance to trailer loading.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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