Emotional Responses of Horses to Patients Requiring Therapy

In: Society & Animals
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  • 1 Department of Horse Breeding and Use, Faculty of Animal Biology and Breeding, University of Life Sciences in Lublin, Poland
  • 2 Department of Biochemistry, Faculty of Veterinary Medicine, University of Life Sciences in Lublin, Poland

Abstract

Understanding horses’ attitudes toward cooperation with humans has implications for the welfare of both the horses and people involved. The aim of this study was to evaluate the emotional response of therapeutic horses to their contact with patients. The emotional responses, i.e., behavioral measures and heart rate, of six adult hippotherapeutic horses to three groups of people were tested. These groups included six adult patients with psychomotor disables with no earlier experience with horses, seven healthy adults unfamiliar with horses, and eight healthy adults familiar with horses. Two tests were performed (Person Test and Working Test). There were no significant differences between the response of horses to patients and healthy people in the Person Test. The results of the Working Test indicated that horses’ emotional excitability was lower during hippotherapeutic sessions than during riding school sessions. The contact with patients did not involve emotional excitability in therapeutic horses.

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