Simple Summary Being a prey species, horses evolved to rapidly react to potential danger and loud noises may be perceived as such. Therefore, they can exhibit several anxiety behaviors during noisy events, including sweating, trembling and escape attempts, which may cause severe accidents for the horse and the rider/handler. Since noise anxiety can significantly impact on horse welfare, the aim of the present study was to investigate owners' perception of noise anxiety severity in their horses, their management strategies and perceived efficacy. In a survey, 409 out of 1836 owners reported that their horse shows unusual behavior during a noise event. Among those, two noise anxiety clusters could be identified: very and slightly anxious horses. Very anxious horses were reported to have higher frequency of all anxiety behaviors and higher frequency of signs of noise reactivity; furthermore, their anxiety did not improve with time. The most frequently used management strategies were providing hay throughout the night or turning out or moving horses to a paddock; though, most of these techniques were reported to be effective only in the slightly anxious subjects. Our results confirmed that noise anxiety is a widespread behavioral problem (22% of our respondents reported that their horse had ever shown any unusual behavior in relation to loud noises) that can lead to negative welfare consequences for horses. Noise anxiety is an over-reaction to loud noises commonly detected among pets and can greatly impact on their welfare and on their management. When exposed to noisy events, horses can show intense escape attempts, which may cause severe accidents for the horse and the rider/handler. The aim of the present study was to investigate, through a web survey, UK and US owners' perception of noise anxiety severity in their horses, their management strategies and perceived efficacy. The questionnaire was shared via social networking and advertised as "What is your horse afraid of?". Over a total of 1836 questionnaires filled out; 409 owners reported that their horse has shown unusual behavior during a noise event. A two-step cluster analysis identified two groups: very anxious (VA) and slightly anxious (SA). VA horses were reported to have higher frequency of anxiety behaviors; higher frequency of signs of noise reactivity; and their anxiety did not improve with time. The most used management strategies consisted in providing hay throughout the night, turning in/out their horse or moving it to a paddock. A binomial logistic regression identified that horses that have reported injuries during noise events were more likely to be clustered as VA (OR = 0.24, 95% CI: 0.08-0.76); while providing hay throughout the night was more likely to be very effective management strategy in SA horses (OR = 0.41, 95% CI: 0.16-1.01). Our results confirmed that noise anxiety is a growing behavioral problem that can lead to important welfare concerns for horses. New management strategies, including the use of medicinal products, should be considered to reduce behavioral and physiological signs and help horses to cope with noisy events.

The Impact of Noise Anxiety on Behavior and Welfare of Horses from UK and US Owner’s Perspective / M.G. Riva, F. Dai, M. Huhtinen, M. Minero, S. Barbieri, E. DALLA COSTA. - In: ANIMALS. - ISSN 2076-2615. - 12:10(2022), pp. 1319.1-1319.15. [10.3390/ani12101319]

The Impact of Noise Anxiety on Behavior and Welfare of Horses from UK and US Owner’s Perspective

M.G. Riva
Primo
;
F. Dai
Secondo
;
M. Minero;S. Barbieri
Penultimo
;
E. DALLA COSTA
Ultimo
2022

Abstract

Simple Summary Being a prey species, horses evolved to rapidly react to potential danger and loud noises may be perceived as such. Therefore, they can exhibit several anxiety behaviors during noisy events, including sweating, trembling and escape attempts, which may cause severe accidents for the horse and the rider/handler. Since noise anxiety can significantly impact on horse welfare, the aim of the present study was to investigate owners' perception of noise anxiety severity in their horses, their management strategies and perceived efficacy. In a survey, 409 out of 1836 owners reported that their horse shows unusual behavior during a noise event. Among those, two noise anxiety clusters could be identified: very and slightly anxious horses. Very anxious horses were reported to have higher frequency of all anxiety behaviors and higher frequency of signs of noise reactivity; furthermore, their anxiety did not improve with time. The most frequently used management strategies were providing hay throughout the night or turning out or moving horses to a paddock; though, most of these techniques were reported to be effective only in the slightly anxious subjects. Our results confirmed that noise anxiety is a widespread behavioral problem (22% of our respondents reported that their horse had ever shown any unusual behavior in relation to loud noises) that can lead to negative welfare consequences for horses. Noise anxiety is an over-reaction to loud noises commonly detected among pets and can greatly impact on their welfare and on their management. When exposed to noisy events, horses can show intense escape attempts, which may cause severe accidents for the horse and the rider/handler. The aim of the present study was to investigate, through a web survey, UK and US owners' perception of noise anxiety severity in their horses, their management strategies and perceived efficacy. The questionnaire was shared via social networking and advertised as "What is your horse afraid of?". Over a total of 1836 questionnaires filled out; 409 owners reported that their horse has shown unusual behavior during a noise event. A two-step cluster analysis identified two groups: very anxious (VA) and slightly anxious (SA). VA horses were reported to have higher frequency of anxiety behaviors; higher frequency of signs of noise reactivity; and their anxiety did not improve with time. The most used management strategies consisted in providing hay throughout the night, turning in/out their horse or moving it to a paddock. A binomial logistic regression identified that horses that have reported injuries during noise events were more likely to be clustered as VA (OR = 0.24, 95% CI: 0.08-0.76); while providing hay throughout the night was more likely to be very effective management strategy in SA horses (OR = 0.41, 95% CI: 0.16-1.01). Our results confirmed that noise anxiety is a growing behavioral problem that can lead to important welfare concerns for horses. New management strategies, including the use of medicinal products, should be considered to reduce behavioral and physiological signs and help horses to cope with noisy events.
fear behavior; horse welfare; management strategies; noise anxiety
Settore AGR/19 - Zootecnica Speciale
Article (author)
File in questo prodotto:
File Dimensione Formato  
animals-12-01319-v2.pdf

accesso aperto

Tipologia: Publisher's version/PDF
Dimensione 1.21 MB
Formato Adobe PDF
1.21 MB Adobe PDF Visualizza/Apri
Pubblicazioni consigliate

Caricamento pubblicazioni consigliate

I documenti in IRIS sono protetti da copyright e tutti i diritti sono riservati, salvo diversa indicazione.

Utilizza questo identificativo per citare o creare un link a questo documento: http://hdl.handle.net/2434/930972
Citazioni
  • ???jsp.display-item.citation.pmc??? ND
  • Scopus 0
  • ???jsp.display-item.citation.isi??? 0
social impact