Event horses behaviour in warm up can indicate discomfort and failure to complete

A recent study has used a horse behavior scale to identify high-level event horses at risk of poor cross-country performance. Drs. Sue Dyson and Andrea Ellis completed two studies: A preliminary study that used 35 horses, The main study used 70 horses warming up for dressage at the 2019 Badminton CCI 5* horse trials and 67 horses warming up for dressage at the 2019 Burghley horse trials.

Each horse was observed and behaviour was evaluated using the Ridden Horse Pain Ethogram (RHpE) to determine if the horse was pain-free. The RHpE uses 24 behaviors to determine if a horse is experiencing musculoskeletal discomfort.

There was a significant relationship between total RHpE score and final horse placings, with horses having higher RHpE scores being placed lower than horses with low RHpE scores. There is a strong correlation between horses that exhibit behaviors on the RHpE and a failure to complete. This indicates that underlying musculoskeletal discomfort may be a contributory cause to not finishing the cross-country phase of eventing.

Source: BEVA

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