Paardenwelzijn in paardondersteunde interventies

Behavioral assessment of horses in therapeutic riding programs.

Anderson, M. K., Friend, T. H., Evans, J. W., & Bushong, D. M. (1999). Behavioral assessment of horses in therapeutic riding programs. Applied Animal Behaviour Science, 63(1), 11–24.

Conducted a behavioral assessment of horses who were being used and not used in therapeutic riding programs to help determine useful methods of selecting horses for use in therapeutic riding programs. 76 horses from therapeutic riding centers and 27 non-therapeutic riding horses were used. A temperament survey for each horse was completed by 3 riding instructors at each therapeutic riding center or by the individual most knowledgeable about the horse at the other sites. Twenty personality traits from the survey were used to quantify temperament. The therapeutic riding instructors did not often agree on the temperament of their center’s horses. The personality trait ratings made by the therapeutic riding instructors at each center were on average significantly correlated for only 37.8% of the horses for any two instructors and 7.8% for 3 instructors. There was also a tendency for relationships between extremes in temperament (desirable vs undesirable) and the hormone concentrations, and between extremes in reactivity (low vs high) and the hormone concentrations. The difference in ratings among riding instructors indicates a need for more collaboration between instructors when evaluating horse temperament. 

Hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal axis responses of horses to therapeutic riding program: effects of different riders

Fazio, E., Medica, P., Cravana, C., & Ferlazzo, A. (2013). Hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal axis responses of horses to therapeutic riding program: Effects of different riders. Physiology & behavior, 118, 138-143.
In order to determine whether therapeutic riding could result in higher levels of stress than recreational riding, hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal (HPA) axis response was evaluated in six horses by monitoring circulating β-endorphin, ACTH and cortisol concentrations. Horses were already accustomed to be trained both for therapy and riding school activity since 2004. Intervention consisted of 60-minute therapeutic sessions, two times per week for 6weeks with different riders: disabled and recreational riders (session A and B respectively). The therapeutic riders’ group (A) consisted of six children with psychomotor disabilities; the recreational riders’ group (B) consisted of six healthy children without any previous horse riding experience. Horses were asked to perform the same gaits and exercises at all sessions, both with disabled and healthy users. The statistical analysis showed that during both sessions the mean basal β-endorphin and ACTH levels of horses did not show any significant changes, while the one way RM-ANOVA showed significant effects of sessions A on the cortisol (F=11.50; P<0.01) levels. Horses submitted to sessions A showed lower cortisol levels both at 5min (P<0.001) and at 30min (P<0.005) after therapeutic sessions than those after session B. Results suggest that in tested horses and for the variables settled, HPA axis was less responsive to disabled than healthy, recreational riders. Among the endocrine responses, cortisol was one of the indicators of HPA axis stress response.

Heart Rate Variability in Horses Engaged in Equine-Assisted Activities

Gehrke, E. K., Baldwin, A., & Schiltz, P. M. (2011). Heart rate variability in horses engaged in equine-assisted activities. Journal of Equine Veterinary Science, 31(2), 78-84.
Although there has been a recent surge in using horses to treat mental and emotional human health issues, the consequences of horse-assisted interventions on the stress response of horses have not been well documented. Assessment of the autonomic nervous system and its regulation of cardiovascular function has been used as an indicator of acute and chronic stress in human beings and horses. Heart rate variability (HRV) is a noninvasive measurement that has been used to assess autonomic nervous system regulation of cardiovascular function. There is evidence to suggest that several factors including the genotype, behavior, environment, temperament, and nutritional status of the horse play a key role in the large inter-individual variations in basal HRV. The present study determined whether 24-hour HRV recordings in horses currently working in equine-assisted therapy (EAT) differ from those previously shown in Thoroughbred horses. Findings from the present study found that in contrast to previous studies in Thoroughbred horses, diurnal and nocturnal low frequency and high frequency powers were not significantly different in horses that are currently engaged in EAT. Future studies are needed to determine the short- and long-term consequences of horses participating in EAT programs. Findings from this study will provide the basis for the development of a physiological/behavioral assessment criteria to determine the consequences of EAT on the well-being of horses as well as to help EAT Centers to improve the beneficial effects of EAT in human beings. (C) 2011 Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

The variability of a horse’s movement at walk in hippotherapy.

Janura, M., Svoboda, Z., Dvorakova, T., Cabell, L., Elfmark, M., & Janurova, E. (2012). The variability of a horse’s movement at walk in hippotherapy. Kinesiology, 44(2), 148–154.

The impulses emitted from the back of a horse during hippotherapy stimulate the rider’s postural reflex mechanisms, resulting in balance and coordination training. The objectives of this study were to evaluate the movement variability of the horse’s back and limbs and to determine significant relationships between the movement of the selected body points on the horse. Two English thoroughbreds and twelve female riders participated in six sessions of hippotherapy. Three-dimensional (3-D) videography was used to assess movement of the selected points on the horse’s back and limbs. The spatiotemporal parameters of the horse’s walk showed no significant changes throughout the entire measuring process. Horse movement within a given session was stable, and overall, inter-individual (between-horse) variability was greater than intra-individual variability. The maximum differences in the vertical displacement of the horse’s back across individual sessions were significant. With respect to the range of movement of the caudal part of the horse’s back, it is necessary to consider the instability of movements during longitudinally repeated sessions. 
Stress-related behaviors among horses used in a therapeutic riding program

Kaiser, L., Heleski, C. R., Siegford, J., & Smith, K. A. (2006). Stress-related behaviors among horses used in a therapeutic riding program. Journal of the American veterinary medical association, 228(1), 39-45.
To determine whether therapeutic riding resulted in higher levels of stress or frustration for horses than did recreational riding and whether therapeutic riding with at-risk individuals was more stressful for the horses than was therapeutic riding with individuals with physical or emotional handicaps.

Observational study.

14 horses in a therapeutic riding program.

An ethogram of equine behaviors was created, and horses were observed while ridden by 5 groups of riders (recreational riders, physically handicapped riders, psychologically handicapped riders, at risk children, and special education children). Number of stress-related behaviors (ears pinned back, head raised, head turned, head tossed, head shaken, head down, and defecation) was compared among groups.

No significant differences in mean number of stress-related behaviors were found when horses were ridden by recreational riders, physically handicapped riders, psychologically handicapped riders, or special education children. However, mean number of stress-related behaviors was significantly higher when horses were ridden by the at-risk children.

Results suggest that for horses in a therapeutic riding program, being ridden by physically or psychologically handicapped individuals is no more stressful for the horses than is being ridden in the same setting by recreational riders. However, at-risk children caused more stress to the horses, suggesting that the time horses are ridden by at-risk children should be limited both daily and weekly.
Changes in Salivary Cortisol Concentration in Horses during Different Types of Exercise
Kang, O. D., & Lee, W. S. (2016). Changes in salivary cortisol concentration in horses during different types of exercise. Asian-Australasian journal of animal sciences, 29(5), 747.
This study aimed to estimate the change of stress level in horses based on cortisol concentration levels in their saliva. A total of 61 horses were divided into the following three groups: i) tourist riding experience (TR, n = 23); ii) resting group (RR, n = 14); and iii) horse-riding education (ER, n = 24). The saliva samples of TR and ER groups were taken using plain cotton Salivettes four times a day: at 07:00 (basal), 11:00 (Exercise 1, after 1-hour exercise in the morning), 14:00 (Exercise 2, after 1-hour exercise in the afternoon), and 16:00 (Exercise 3, after 1-hour exercise in the afternoon). The saliva samples of RR were measured at the same time. The samples were analyzed using the SAS program general linear model procedure. In a percentage relative to the base value, cortisol levels in Exercise 3 were confirmed to decrease in all groups as compared to the basal value percentage in the following sequence: ER>TR>RR. The highest peak was confirmed in Exercise 2 (approximately 131%) of RR group and the lowest peak appeared in Exercise 3 (approximately 52%) of ER group. Therefore, resting without any particular exercise can also increase the stress level of horses. Thus, it is better to exercise, as exercise can reduce the stress level, even in cases when riders are clumsy or lack appropriate horse-riding experience. The results of the present study are useful to equestrian center owners and educational riding instructors in that they provide a meaningful insight into a better horse management.
Behavioural and physiological responses of therapy horses to mentally traumatized humans
Merkies, K., McKechnie, M. J., & Zakrajsek, E. (2018). Behavioural and physiological responses of therapy horses to mentally traumatized humans. Applied animal behaviour science, 205, 61-67.
The benefits to humans of equine-assisted therapy (EAT) have been well-researched, however few studies have analyzed the effects on the horse. Understanding how differing mental states of humans affect the behaviour and response of the horse can assist in providing optimal outcomes for both horse and human. Four humans clinically diagnosed and under care of a psychotherapist for Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) were matched physically to four neurotypical control humans and individually subjected to each of 17 therapy horses loose in a round pen. A professional acting coach instructed the control humans in replicating the physical movements of their paired PTSD individual. Both horses and humans were equipped with a heart rate (HR) monitor recording HR every 5secs. Saliva samples were collected from each horse 30 min before and 30 min after each trial to analyze cortisol concentrations. Each trial consisted of 5 min of baseline observation of the horse alone in the round pen after which the human entered the round pen for 2 min, followed by an additional 5 min of the horse alone. Behavioural observations indicative of stress in the horse (gait, head height, ear orientation, body orientation, distance from the human, latency of approach to the human, vocalizations, and chewing) were retrospectively collected from video recordings of each trial and analyzed using a repeated measures GLIMMIX with Tukey’s multiple comparisons for differences between treatments and time periods. Horses moved slower (p < 0.0001), carried their head lower (p < 0.0001), vocalized less (p < 0.0001), and chewed less (p < 0.0001) when any human was present with them in the round pen. Horse HR increased in the presence of the PTSD humans, even after the PTSD human left the pen (p < 0.0001). Since two of the PTSD/control human pairs were experienced with horses and two were not, a post-hoc analysis showed that horses approached quicker (p < 0.016) and stood closer (p < 0.0082) to humans who were experienced with horses. Horse HR was lower when with inexperienced humans (p < 0.0001) whereas inexperienced human HR was higher (p < 0.0001). Horse salivary cortisol did not differ between exposure to PTSD and control humans (p > 0.32). Overall, behavioural and physiological responses of horses to humans are more pronounced based on human experience with horses than whether the human is diagnosed with a mental disorder. This may be a reflection of a directness of movement associated with humans who are experienced with horses that makes the horse more attentive. It appears that horses respond more to physical cues from the human rather than emotional cues. This knowledge is important in tailoring therapy programs and justifying horse responses when interacting with a patient in a therapy setting.
A note on reaction to novel stimulus and restraint by therapeutic riding horses
Minero, M., Zucca, D., & Canali, E. (2006). A note on reaction to novel stimulus and restraint by therapeutic riding horses. Applied Animal Behaviour Science, 97(2–4), 335–342. 
Little research has been done to measure reactivity objectively in therapeutic riding horses (TRH). As individual reactivity and chronic stress could be assessed by exposing animals to acute, novel stressors, the authors of this work aimed at comparing reactions of TRHs and jumping horses (JH) to two challenges. Four TRHs and four JHs were exposed to a restraint covering their head with a hood for 1 h and to a startling stimulus (a 40 cm long, red and white synthetic holiday garland shaken with a rustling noise inside the box). Heart rate (HR) and heart rate variability (HRV) were recorded continuously and telemetrically, the reaction was video-recorded and analysed with a software for behavioural analysis. Blood samples were collected before and after each challenge to determine lymphocyte proliferation and other biochemical parameters. Horses spent most of the time immobile, during the challenges (p < 0.05). TRHs had a significantly higher average basal HR than JH (p < 0.05), probably due to their better condition. HR varied among different behaviours during the restraint (p < 0.05): the average HR during ‘pawing’ was higher than during other behaviours (p < 0.005). A significant decrease in the proliferation of lymphocytes in samples taken after the removal of the hood (p < 0.05) was found, while the other stress related parameters did not vary significantly after the challenges. The authors conclude that TRHs did not react less than JHs to the new stimuli and this should be taken into consideration while planning their daily work and management. 
Feasibility Study of Inertial Sensor Technology on Ponies for Equine-Assisted Therapy (EAT)
Peansukmanee, S., Thawinchai, N., Khanproa, P., & Khaminluang, P. (2017). Feasibility study of inertial sensor technology on ponies for equine-assisted therapy (EAT). Kafkas Üniversitesi Veteriner Fakültesi Dergisi, 23(6).
Ponies used in equine-assisted therapy (EAT) (hippotherapy) often carry imbalanced riders, which is a cause for concern as regards the health of the ponies. A low degree of lameness or an abnormal gait is not always detectable by a veterinarian, subjectively, but this is enabled by using a motion analysis equipment. The aim of this study was to evaluate the feasibility of inertial sensor technology utilization to analyze ponies’ kinematic motion at walking gait. Ten ponies were instrumented with the inertial sensors and made to walk 20 m in two trials (departure and return) for the forelimb data set (n= 10), which was then repeated in the second round for the hindlimb (n= 3). The ponies were assigned three interventions: walking with no rider, walking with a rider with typical development (normal rider), and walking with a rider with physical disability (disabled rider). The movement speed, stride length, and stride duration were measured by a video camera. The limb range of motion and the angular velocity were detected by inertial sensors. The results showed that there were no significant differences in the kinematic motion of the forelimb at walking gait for all interventions and no significant differences between the left and the right forelimbs except in the case of the anterior phase of the angular velocity of the arm when walking with a disabled rider (P< 0.05). The hindlimb data set was not statistically compared due to insufficient “n” number. In conclusion, the inertial sensor technology is feasible to use on pony kinematic motion, especially when the sensor is attached to the forelimb. It seems that the ponies could modify the natural kinematic motion when walking with a load on them.