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Equine assisted coaching from the horses’ point of view

a study about the stress horses undergo during equine assisted coaching

Equine assisted coaching from the horses’ point of view

a study about the stress horses undergo during equine assisted coaching

Samenvatting

Equine assisted coaching (EAC) is a new technique to make people aware of their body language with the help of the horse. The benefits of this training concerning the people have been researched before. However, there is no indication how the horse is experiencing these trainings in any studies. Therefore this study was conducted in order to provide an insight into the level of stress horses experience during EAC. As an indicator for stress, physical parameters such as heart rate, breathing rate, blood pressure and the behaviour of the horse can be taken as a measurement. This study concentrated on the behaviours, which were observed with the help of a beforehand made ethogram during different EAC sessions. Several factors could have had an influence on the horses’ behaviour and were considered. The information for these factors was collected with the help of questionnaires. The factors can be divided into three groups: horse related (age of the horse, experience of the horse in EAC, breed and character), client related (experience in handling horses, previous experience EAC) and environmentally related (position of the trainer, kind of exercise). Concerning the gathered information the following research questions were formulated: In how far show horses stress behaviours during an equine assisted coaching session and which factors to which extent have an influence on the stress behaviours? A total of 12 horses and 15 clients were subjects in six different exercises (free, lunge line, lead rope, trail, round pen and systematic coaching) used in EAC. Not all horses participated in all exercises and with every client. Two observers looked at the body language of the horse with the help of an ethogram and recorded all behaviours continuously for 5-­‐minute intervals with a one-­‐minute break in between. During a session several intervals had been recorded and the observations of both observers were averaged as well as the multiple observations of one session. This meant that all sessions had a length of five minutes that were analysed. A total of 33 sessions, which equals to four hours and 50 minutes observation time, were observed and used in the data analysis. The results showed that in 3,10 % of all sessions, stress behaviours were demonstrated. These were significantly depending on the kind of exercise (p=0,032). However, the stress shown was not significantly dependent on the age of the horse (p=0,140). Moreover, all other factors could not be proven as significant. Analysis showed that during the exercise ‘Lunge line’ stress was demonstrated the most followed by ‘Free’ and ‘Round pen’. The exercises ‘Lead rope’ and ‘Trail’ had respectively low stress in comparison to the former mentioned exercises. ‘Systematic coaching’ had the lowest amount of stress of all exercises. The results suggest that the horse is showing stress during EAC and that it is related to the different kind of exercises. Knowing that the exercises have an impact on the stress level of the horse can be a factor for trainers in deciding which exercises they use for sessions. Furthermore, it is essential that there will be more research into this topic with respect to the client and the difference in horses.

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OrganisatieVan Hall Larenstein
AfdelingDiermanagement
PartnersHogeschool Van Hall Larenstein
Datum2015-01-01
TypeBachelorscriptie
TaalNederlands

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