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Stray, Linnea, 2018. Tolkning av uttryck och beteende i samband med smärta hos häst. First cycle, G2E. Uppsala: SLU, Dept. of Animal Environment and Health



Recognizing and evaluating pain in horses comes with a great challenge, both for veterinarians and horse owners. Pain in animals is hard to measure physiologically and it differs with the individual’s perception, state of mind and earlier experiences. Studies show that there is a lack of knowledge regarding pain evaluation in horses for both veterinarians and horse owners, and researchers are currently working on developing methods for pain assessment, such as behavioural cues and facial expressions. According to several studies, horses show a significant difference in facial expressions when they are in pain, both in rest and when ridden. They also show behavioural changes when they are painfully affected, but the behaviours differ with the type and intensity of injury or disease. With the right tools and education regarding pain evaluation, owners, riders and trainers who handle horses at a daily basis could be able to discover injuries and diseases at an early stage. To offer injured and sick horses treatment quickly could enhance the overall welfare and prevent chronic pain and distress. Besides improving the welfare for horses, pain assessment is necessary to improve safety when handling to reduce risk of accidents and to facilitate veterinary investigations.

This study aimed to investigate how horse related humans interpreted behaviours and expressions associated with pain in horses. By means of a survey, volunteer participants were presented with pictures of pain affected horses before and after analgesia and were then asked to choose the best describing feeling of the horse. The survey also contained questions about interpretation of unwanted behaviours in familiar and unfamiliar horses. The results showed that the majority were able to recognize pain in the horse’s expression when presented with comparative pictures, but only a third managed to recognize pain in just one picture of a painful horse, where there was no picture to compare with. The majority answered that the horses did not understand what was asked of them when performing an unwanted behaviour, both in familiar and unfamiliar horses. The results also showed that a bigger amount of the participants with more than 30-year experience of horses interpreted unwanted behaviour as the horses were feeling pain rather than not understanding what was asked of them, in comparison with those who had fewer years of experience. There is a need for more studies and education to spread knowledge regarding pain evaluation in horses.

Main title:Tolkning av uttryck och beteende i samband med smärta hos häst
Authors:Stray, Linnea
Supervisor:Yngvesson, Jenny
Examiner:Sassner, Hanna
Series:Studentarbete / Sveriges lantbruksuniversitet, Institutionen för husdjurens miljö och hälsa
Volume/Sequential designation:744
Year of Publication:2018
Level and depth descriptor:First cycle, G2E
Student's programme affiliation:VK002 Ethology and Animal Welfare - Bachelor's Programme 180 HEC
Supervising department:(VH) > Dept. of Animal Environment and Health
Keywords:hHäst, smärtbedömning, beteende, uttryck, etologi, välfärd
Permanent URL:
Subject. Use of subject categories until 2023-04-30.:Animal husbandry
Animal ecology
Veterinary science and hygiene - General aspects
Deposited On:12 Jul 2018 11:21
Metadata Last Modified:25 Feb 2019 13:38

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