Tuesday, 24 November 2015

Horse welfare high on the agenda at the British Horse Society welfare conference held at Aintree

Last month Programme Co-ordinator for the MSc in Applied Animal Behaviour & Animal Welfare, Dr Tamsin Coombs attended the BHS Welfare Conference 2015: Unlocking the Secrets of Horse Behaviour at Aintree racecourse. The conference was chaired by Professor Natalie Waran, Director of the Jeanne Marchig Centre and hosted an interesting panel of speakers.
•    Dr Matthew Leach of Newcastle University’s Centre for Behaviour and Evolution presented work on the development of ‘The Horse Grimace Scale’ as a tool to assess pain in horses.
•    Dr Joe Pagan of Kentucky Equine Research was the keynote speaker and talked about the science behind feeding to prevent behaviour issues.
•    Dr Sebastian McBride presented his research on equine stereotypic behaviour.

•    Welfare veterinary surgeons Nic De Brauwere and Roxane Kirton of Redwings Horse Sanctuary talked about the risk to welfare from the development of behavioural problems before discussing the practical solutions which included the application of learning theory in training and retraining welfare cases.
 •    Horse trainer Jason Webb provided a practical demonstration focusing on the retraining of racehorses.
Tamsin, an Equine Science graduate herself, is working to increase the emphasis on equine behaviour and welfare within dissertation projects available to the MSc students. She found the day to be both interesting and informative and was particularly encouraged by the positive reaction from the BHS members who had attended. She noted that there appears to be an appetite for information on the behaviour and welfare of horses so it is important that we find a way to disseminate our research to horse owners.
A great day of talks on behavioural and physiological studies demonstrating the importance of applying an evidence based approach to equine welfare.

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