Thursday, 26 July 2012

Equitation Science a success in Edinburgh

250 delegates from over 15 countries ranging from the west coast of the US, across Europe and all the way to Australia and New Zealand, attended the recent ISES UK 2012 international conference sponsored by Redwings Horse Sanctuary and the World Dressage Masters foundation and held at Edinburgh University¹s Royal (Dick) Vet School last week.

Fittingly held just prior to the Olympic games in London, the annual equine performance and welfare conference attracted international scientists and experts speaking on themes covering the sustainable equine athlete from both physical and psychological aspects to the science and measurement of rider inputs and horse welfare. The three day conference with more than 35 spoken presentations and 140 poster presentations discussed current and future use of technological advances for enabling better measurement of the ways in which both horse and rider interact during ridden performance and so improve methods used for coaching riders and training horses.

Highlights included the final practical day where scientific work was put into practice, and the audience were given demonstrations of the use of rein tension meters, saddle pressure mats, bio measures of horse and rider and even eye tracking equipment for carriage horse drivers. Three times Olympian, and Dressage Team GB member for the London Olympics, Richard Davison was on hand as the chairperson for what was an excellent opportunity for equine scientists and practitioners for discuss the road ahead for the use of the horse for pleasure and performance.

Wednesday, 25 July 2012

Animal welfare resources at the Royal (Dick) School of Veterinary Studies

When working in the field of animal welfare overseas and in the UK, it can be easy to become disheartened by the constant challenges faced by animals used in agriculture, research, as pets and companions or for entertainment.
However it’s important that we recognise the enormous achievements that have been made and are still being made in these areas. To showcase some of the work done by education, campaign and academic groups around the world, the Jeanne Marchig International Centre for Animal Welfare Education will be showcasing items donated by various groups including Compassion in World Farming, IFAW, WSPA, OneKind and Animals Asia to highlight the importance of continuous education and lobbying on welfare issues and to connect veterinary students and staff here at the  R(D)SVS with welfare issues around the world.
The items will be held in our Study Landscape, and will provide a focus on current and historical animal welfare issues, and the progress that has been made on improving animal welfare around the globe.

Monday, 16 July 2012

Animal welfare and ethics teaching an essential part of the veterinary curriculum

On 12th and 13th July, Edinburgh's R(D)SVS hosted the VetEd conference, which brought together veterinary educationalists, practitioners, researchers and students and to share innovation, ideas and best practice in veterinary education.
As part of the conference, the JMICAWE in collaboration with colleagues from Glasgow and Bristol vet schools and the SAC delivered an animal welfare and ethics teaching workshop. The workshop was attended by a good number of delegates who discussed the importance of educating veterinarians so that they appreciated their important role in the area of applied animal welfare. Workshop delegates felt that animal welfare, in its entirety, should become a major subject in the curriculum of every veterinary school (Fraser 2008), with most feeling that embedding animal welfare within courses is the best way for engaging students with the science as well as developing greater awareness of the ethical and practical issues. The workshop considered the topic of animal welfare education within the veterinary curriculum, using a 3Es approach and we were shown how new delivery modes could help to Engage with international and national students to deliver animal welfare knowledge that reflects the diverse and changing world, whilst Empowering learning through providing students with the ability to become active participants in relation to the context in which they are studying and Encouraging ownership of the learning experience by helping students to integrate and apply theoretical knowledge in the real world.
Finally we reflected upon some of the barriers to delivering animal welfare teaching which included lack of awareness amongst colleagues teaching in other courses, lack of context or relevance impeding learning, lack of engagement by students who see it as nice but not necessary, and lack of a consistent approach across vet schools. We ended by agreeing that through sharing materials and best practise, animal welfare lecturers would better equip themselves to ensure the engagement of colleagues and students, and that knowledge was transferred in the most effective way.

Monday, 9 July 2012

Population management in dogs and cats

The World Health Organisation (WHO) estimates the global stray dog population at over 200 million, a number which is difficult to conceive. In reality what we in the western world consider as stray dogs, are often actually ‘owned’ in the sense that they may be community or village dogs living in cultures where dogs roam freely, often running in groups. In terms of animal welfare there are numerous issues associated with the management of free-roaming dogs, and often we in the west assume that street dogs such as these will have a poor quality of life. Sadly, this is often the case. However when we look at the conclusions of last year’s PDSA Animal Wellbeing report, that the majority of the UK’s pets are stressed, lonely, overweight, aggressive or misunderstood, we can see that even with the best intentions to do well for our pets, some street dogs, with freedom to roam, and complex social groups, may actually have a relatively good quality of life in terms of their mental and behavioural welfare.

Despite this, dog overpopulation is a global issue. Every year around 55,000 people die of rabies, with dogs acting as the primary vector for the disease, and dog bite injuries create fear in human communities, often leading to dog culling through beating or poison. Surgical sterilisation of both male and female animals has been practiced by many governmental and non-governmental organisations to control dog populations but with sterilisation rate of over 70% required to stabilise populations, such programmes can be expensive and not always effective. Over recent years chemical sterilisation in male dogs using zinc gluconate injections have been trialled through South and Central America but are yet to be widely adopted globally. Most experts agree that in order to control dog populations, sterilisation of the female is the most crucial approach, and unfortunately these injections only target the male dogs. Additionally injection site reactions occur in approximately 4% of dogs, causing pain, swelling and often causing extensive damage to the scrotum.

Unfortunately when it comes to dog population control there are no easy solutions, fortunately, there are many groups determined to make progress on these issues. Later this year the UK will host the 1st conference on International Dog Population Management  (  ) where experts from around the globe, including the team from the Jeanne Marchig international Centre for Animal Welfare Education will come together to discuss issues surrounding dog population management, and develop inter-sectorial collaborative approaches to these issues.

Thursday, 5 July 2012

International Society of Equitation Science Conference

Not long before the International Society of Equitation Science Conference starts in Edinburgh – July 18th -20th.
There is still time to register for the full three day conference including two days of presentations at the University of Edinburgh’s, Royal (Dick) School of Veterinary Studies from equine experts talking about a wide range of subjects to do with measuring and improving the interaction between the horse and rider. There is an exciting programme with more than 30 spoken papers and 70 posters, with key talks including Dr Sue Dyson of the Animal Health Trust on the sustainable equine athlete to International Dressage Riders Club Secretary General and the World dressage Masters foundation’s, Wayne Channon, on the future of equestrian sports: evidence-based training systems. The conference practical day will be held on the 20th July at the Scottish National Equestrian Centre compèred by Olympic GB dressage team member, Richard Davison, with demonstrations by Dr Andrew McLean and other leading international scientists and practitioners.  We welcome one day registrations for this event and encourage attendance by anyone with an interest in understanding how to use an evidence based approach to riding, driving and training.
For more information about whats on, the speakers and how to register, visit: