Dec 10, 2021 Membership, Convention

VIDEO: Is There a Relationship Between Ridden Horse Behavior and the Performance of Event Horses?

Take a look at Dr. Sue Dyson's video that was presented at the 2021 USEA Annual Meeting & Convention. Dr. Sue Dyson specializes in the investigation of lameness and poor performance throughout her carer. She developed the Ridden Horse Pain Ethogram (RHpE) to justify our social license to compete. An ethogram is a series of behaviors each with strict definitions. The Ridden Horse Pain Ethogram (RHpE) was developed by the comparison of lame and non-lame horses and comprises 24 behaviors, the majority of which are at least 10 times more likely to be seen in lame versus non-lame horses. 

A RHpE score of ≥8/24 indicates the presence of musculoskeletal pain, although some lame horses score <8. The RHpE was applied to horses warming up for dressage at 5* three-day events. The most frequent RHpE score for non-lame horses was 3/24 (range 0-9). For horses exhibiting lameness or gait abnormalities of canter (e.g., lack of a suspension phase) the most frequent score was significantly higher (5/24, range 1-9). Horses with a RHpE of ≥7 compared with those with a score of <7 had higher dressage penalties, were more likely to be eliminated or retire cross-country, and had lower finish places. Preliminary analysis of >1,000 horses competing at novice one-day events shows a similar relationship between RHpE scores and performance. The RHpE should facilitate earlier identification of horses which may benefit from diagnosis and treatment, resulting in improvement in both performance and equine welfare. Moreover, the low median RHpE score indicates that the majority of horses are working comfortably, justifying the social license to compete.

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