The welfare of recreational horses in Victoria: the occurrence of and factors associated with horse welfare

Lauren Margaret Hemsworth
The welfare of recreational horses in Victoria, Australia has become an increasingly important issue, as evident by their high representation in welfare investigations. A substantial proportion of horse welfare problems appear due to recreational horse owner mismanagement, as a result of ignorance rather than intentional abuse. According to the Theory of Planned Behaviour (TPB), a recreational horse owner's attitudes towards horse ownership are likely to influence their behaviour in terms of
more » ... iour in terms of the implementation of horse husbandry and management practices. Subsequently, these recreational horse owner husbandry and management behaviours may impact on the welfare of the horse. This study examined recreational horse ownership in Victoria and investigated the relationships between horse owner attributes and horse welfare outcomes. The results of a random telephone survey reported the observed incidence of horse ownership to be 3.5%, suggesting that as many as 176,000 people in Victoria may own recreational horses. Furthermore, on average each recreational horse owner owned four horses, which indicates there could potentially be in excess of 600,000 recreational horses in Victoria. Horse owners typically provided their horses with their daily primary care. Consequently, it was the horse owner who was responsible for the welfare of these horses. Horse owners largely reported the appropriate performance of horse husbandry and management practices and a low incidence of horse injury and illness. However, on average, horse owners spent less than 30 minutes per day interacting with their horses. Furthermore, at least one quarter of horse owners who provided the daily primary care, failed to interact with their horses on a daily basis. These findings suggest that a limited degree of human-horse interaction rather than the inappropriate performance of other horse husbandry and management practices could potentially be the primary source of Victorian horse owner mismanagement. The observation-based results of on-site inspection [...]
doi:10.4225/03/58980e6bb8c2e fatcat:tntjpyqfrbhtjbyprln777xtiu