Tuesday, 19 April 2016

Shannon Horse Project - animal welfare in the traveller community

The following article appeared in February in ‘The Clare People’, a local newspaper in Shannon, Ireland.

Shannon Equine Research

Members of the Traveller community in Clare are set to participate in a major equine research project headed up by the Shannon Horse Project. Shannon Horse Project has teamed up with the University of Edinburgh in Scotland to carry out the study, which will look at the system used to assess a horse’s body condition. The body condition scoring system is a numerical scale used to evaluate the amount of fat on a horse’s body through visual and palpation appraisal. Based on a grading system, the scoring system is a good indicator of a horse’s general health.

Shannon woman Marie Rowland is currently studying for a Masters in Applied Animal Behaviour and Animal Welfare at the Royal (Dick) School of Veterinary Studies and is working with the project to complete her dissertation. Marie’s project supervisor is Dr Tamsin Coombs, (Programme Co-ordinator for the MSc) who coincidentally graduated from the University of Limerick in 1999 with a BSc (Hons) in Equine Science, before going on to further study at the University of Edinburgh.

The study consists of two parts; firstly, attitudes to body condition scoring and other equine issues were explored and secondly, the group condition scored their horses. This is the first scientific study to include Irish Travellers as participants in equine research. According to Marie, the Traveller community have a long history and tradition of keeping horses but there is little research or consultation with Traveller horse owners on equine related matters. Therefore, Traveller representation will provide scientific research with an innovative approach to equine health and welfare.

The research will be completed in April 2016.

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