A new research article was published in Equine Veterinary Education titled “Application of a Ridden Horse Pain Ethogram to horses competing at 5‐star three‐day‐events: Comparison with performance.” It was authored by Dr. Sue Dyson, The Cottage, Market Weston, United Kingdom, and Unequi Ltd., Nottinghamshire, United Kingdom.
“A Ridden Horse Pain Ethogram (RHpE) was previously developed to facilitate the detection of musculoskeletal pain. The objectives were to apply the RHpE during warm‐up for the dressage phase of two 5* three‐day events and to correlate the RHpE scores with subsequent performance. It was hypothesized that there would be a higher rate of failure to complete the cross‐country phase in horses which exhibited ≥7 behaviors compared with those showing <7 behaviors. The RHpE, comprising 24 behaviors, was applied for 10–12 minutes during warm‐up. Gait abnormalities in trot and canter were recorded. Dressage penalties, cross‐country performance, showjumping penalties and final placings were documented. Horses were categorized as those which completed cross‐country, or those which did not complete because of elimination or retirement. RHpE scores (n = 137) ranged from 0 to 9/24 (median 3 [range 0–9] for non-lame horses; median 5 [range 1–9] for horses with gait abnormalities in trot or canter). There was a moderate correlation between dressage penalty scores and the RHpE score (rho = 0.4, P<0.001, Spearman rank). Fifty‐nine percent of horses (n = 10/17) with a RHpE score ≥7 failed to complete cross‐country, compared with 33% (n = 39/117) with a score <7. Horses that failed to complete the cross‐country phase had higher RHpE scores compared with those that completed (P = 0.04, W = 8.3, Kruskal–Wallis; pairwise comparison Bonferroni, P = 0.06). There was a significant (rho = 0.3) relationship between total RHpE score and final horse placings (n = 80, P<0.01, Spearman rank). Horses with lameness or gait abnormalities in canter had significantly higher RHpE scores (P<0.01, χ2 = 35, chi‐square test) compared with other horses. There was a strong correlation between the RHpE scores for horses which competed at both events (P<0.001, rho = 0.6, Spearman rank). The RHpE should facilitate earlier identification of horses which may benefit from diagnosis and treatment, resulting in improvement in both performance and equine welfare.”
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