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A Survey of Senior Equine Management: Owner Practices and Confidence

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Elsevier’s ScienceDirect.com has published a new article from Livestock Science titled, “A survey of senior equine management: owner practices and confidence.” This United Kingdom survey got more than 1,300 responses from horse owners asked about their senior (16 years and older) horses.

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Abstract

Senior equines (16 years and over) comprise a significant proportion of the global equine population and there is concern that their management practices may not be entirely appropriate, particularly given recent evidence to suggest an under recognition of disease for which alterations are necessary to ensure optimal care. However, there has been minimal research to investigate the appropriateness of senior equine care and how capable their carers’ are in providing care. Consequently, this study used a survey approach to investigate the management practices and health care provision for senior equines. A series of likert type questions were used to assess respondent confidence in aspects of management regimes, recognition of age associated equine conditions, and perceived importance of nutrition advice sources, using a scale of 1–5 (1 being low and 5 high confidence). In addition, a combination of multiple response and open questions were used to report management practices in place. The survey was administered to those enrolled on a massive open online equine nutrition course and received 1342 responses. Results indicated an encouraging provision of care for senior equines, with associated high carer confidence in management regimes and concerted effort to understand and fulfil their senior equines requirements. However, the study highlighted key areas of requirements for owner education. In particular, the combined lack of frequent body condition monitoring and low confidence in disease recognition and supplement feeding. There was also a prevalence of suboptimal strategic worming and dry hay feeding. Given that veterinarians were consistently considered as the most important advice source it is likely that they will have an important role to play in the education that is required.

Authors

R. Bushell, School of Biological Sciences, University of Edinburgh, UK; J. Murray, Faculty of Veterinary Medicine, University of Glasgow Veterinary School, Glasgow, UK.