In an effort to narrow down the conversation, as the topic of consent applies to countless aspects of our horse-human relationship, I decided to focus on consent around touch, because horses are one of our most-touched domesticated animals. This is a fascinating thing, given that in a feral or wild setting, horses might rarely ever touch each other, and would typically not do so without first either giving or receiving permission in the form of behavioural cues. In domestication, we touch horses to halter, groom, saddle, bridle, ride, train, bathe, treat, and often just to feed them. For most horses this happens numerous times every day and is often combined with a restraint of some kind, like a halter, meaning they are not able to move away from this touch.
A Close Look at the Horse-Human Relationship - Recently, animal rights activists have amplified conversations regarding the proper treatment of the precious animals with whom we share our planet and homes. While animal rights organizations have improved the welfare of animals within many industries, their focus has recently begun to shift towards the equestrian community. Many animal rights activists, such as People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA), have announced arguments against the use of horses for any and all riding purposes.
Sleep is essential for life. The quality and quantity of a horse’s sleep directly affects their health and well-being. However, sleep is rarely considered as part of a horse’s management plan. A new study has found that poor management or physical problems can lead to horses becoming sleep deprived and at risk of serious injury.
Bits and breathing. Both words start with the letter “b” and most might assume their relationship ends there. But Dr. David Mellor, a leading animal welfare expert at Massey University in New Zealand, believes there is more to the story, especially when it comes to our horses. His research, shared in a talk at the University of Guelph in autumn 2017, looks at how bit use can impact equine breathing during exercise and what this means for equine welfare.
New research has found that introducing the bit to a young horse for the first time can be a stressful process for them. However, this stress could be difficult for most people to identify, as the horse may not show visible stress behaviours.