2018 Student Research Conference:
31st Annual Student Research Conference

The Effects of Head Position on Stress Levels in Horses


Tess C. Cummings
Dr. Kelly Walter, Faculty Mentor

Horses are used in a variety of equestrian disciplines, many of which require a horse to assume a specific head position. These positions may stress the horse by altering its respiratory efficiency or making the horse anxious due to being overly restricted. To investigate this, a randomized Latin Square experimental design was used to evaluate three different head positions. Treatments included: natural carriage (control), vertical, and hyperflexed head positions. Head position angle was determined using the Equla Vert tool and maintained with side reins and a surcingle. Resting heart rate was recorded. The horse was lunged at a trot for ten minutes, and heart rate data and videos were collected. Blood was drawn prior to, and immediately after lunging. Videos were analyzed and assigned a numerical score based on the Equine Grimace Scale. Data will be analyzed to evaluate the stress response to the different head positions. 

Keywords: Equine Science, Equine Grimace Scale, Blood Cortisol, Heart Rate

Topic(s):Agricultural Science

Presentation Type: Poster

Session: 1-1
Location: GEO - SUB
Time: 3:30

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