Welfare status of working horses and owners' perceptions of their animals
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Simple Summary: Appropriate strategies aimed at improving the welfare of working horses should contemplate the assessment of welfare status, as well as the evaluation of the human-animal relationship within each geo-cultural context. We assessed and compared the welfare status of working horses in two administrative regions of Chile and explored the nature of the owner-horse relationship from the perspective of the owner. The overall prevalence of health problems and negative behavior responses was low. However, significant differences between regions exist in the presence of lesions and the person responsible for managing horseshoeing. Two differing views were found regarding the owners' perception of their horse: predominantly affective or instrumental. Despite the instrumental perception predominantly residing in one region, the affective perception was widely shared by owners in each region. The findings suggest that Chilean working horses have a, generally, good welfare and that the development of an affective owner-horse relationship is possible. Additionally, the results suggest that affective and instrumental perceptions of these animals can coexist. Abstract: Appropriate interventions to improveworking equine welfare should be proposed according to scientific evidence that arises from different geo-cultural contexts. This study aims to assess and compare the welfare status of working horses in two administrative regions of Chile and to determine how owners perceive their horses. Horses' welfare status was assessed through direct indicators (direct observation and clinical examination) and indirect indicators (an interview with the owner). Owners 0 perceptions of their horses were determined through a discourse analysis of their statements. In total, 100 horses and 100 owners were assessed. Results showed a low prevalence of health problems and negative behavior responses among horses in the two regions evaluated. Significant associations were found between inadequate body condition and the absence of deworming, and between hoof abnormalities and a low frequency of shoeing. Between regions, significant differences were found in the presence of lesions and the person responsible for horseshoeing. In regards to the owners 0 appreciations, two differing perceptions of working horses were found: a predominantly affective perception and a perception of the animal as a working instrument. Although the instrumental perception was more frequent in the Araucania region, the affective perception was widely shared by both owner populations. The results reveal a good welfare status in working horses and suggest that both affective and instrumental perceptions of these animals can coexist.
Artículo de publicación ISI
Quote ItemAnimals 2017, 7, 56
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