Monday, 12 September 2016

Prof Waran in Sweden to present on equine welfare and examine a PhD

On her last visit to Europe as the JMICAWE Centre Director, Prof Nat was asked to present on 'Is it possible for Horses to be Happy Athletes'? alongside equitation science colleague Dr Katalijner Visser, who talked about welfare assessment protocol development for horses transported long distances for slaughter. 

The afternoon seminar was well attended by staff and students at the Swedish Agricultural University who had turned out to see the external experts establish their credibility in equine welfare prior to Sofie Viksten's successful PhD defence. 

Under the Swedish system, as the 'opponent' it was Nat's task to question Sofie about her work in order for the assessment panel to decide if she was worthy of her PhD. The thesis described a horse welfare assessment system Sofie had developed and tested for use in the Swedish Equine Industry, and the impact that the results of her assessments had on the attitudes and behaviours of the horse owners given feedback. Interestingly she found that horse owners, despite being provided with a large amount of individual feedback, were not particularly open to change and welfare improvements were minimal. There's clearly a lot to be understood about human behaviour change if we are to improve animal welfare, and this is something Sofie plans to develop further now that her PhD studies are behind her.

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