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Animals (Basel). 2018 Nov 7;8(11). pii: E201. doi: 10.3390/ani8110201.

Examining Canadian Equine Industry Participants' Perceptions of Horses and Their Welfare.

Author information

1
Department of Animal Biosciences, University of Guelph, Guelph, ON N1G 2W1, Canada. cdubois@uoguelph.ca.
2
Campbell Centre for the Study of Animal Welfare, University of Guelph, Guelph, ON N1G 2W1, Canada. cdubois@uoguelph.ca.
3
Department of Animal Biosciences, University of Guelph, Guelph, ON N1G 2W1, Canada. ljnakone@gmail.com.
4
Campbell Centre for the Study of Animal Welfare, University of Guelph, Guelph, ON N1G 2W1, Canada. ljnakone@gmail.com.
5
Agrocampus Ouest, 65 rue de Saint-Brieuc, CS 84215, 35042 Rennes CEDEX, France. emilie.derisoud@gmail.com.
6
Department of Animal Biosciences, University of Guelph, Guelph, ON N1G 2W1, Canada. kmerkies@uoguelph.ca.
7
Campbell Centre for the Study of Animal Welfare, University of Guelph, Guelph, ON N1G 2W1, Canada. kmerkies@uoguelph.ca.

Abstract

The diversity of the Canadian equine industry makes determining baseline attitudes and beliefs a challenge. Adult members of the Canadian equine industry (n = 901) participated in an online survey to report demographic information and views on the role of horses and their ability to experience affective states. Questions regarding the welfare state of all horses in the industry, potential ways to address welfare issues, and eight short scenarios were presented. Qualitative analysis, descriptive statistics, and a Chi-squared test for independence examined survey results and potential relationships. Participants strongly believed horses were capable of feeling positive and negative emotions, particularly pain and fear, but rarely were these beliefs reflected in their answers regarding aspects of equine welfare, which may be due to the large bias in these beliefs. Lack of knowledge and financial difficulties were noted as the biggest threats to equine welfare. Overall, there was widespread agreement regarding the presence of welfare issues within the equine industry, but opinions were more divided regarding how to best address them and which horses were most at risk. Understanding these perceptions may be useful to direct educational programs and industry-wide initiatives to address equine welfare through human behaviour change.

KEYWORDS:

Canadian equine industry; affective states; equine welfare; human behaviour change; online survey; welfare perception

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