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Horse injury during non-commercial transport: findings from researcher-assisted intercept surveys at southeastern Australian equestrian events
journal contributionposted on 16.08.2018, 00:00 by C Riley, B Noble, J Bridges, S Hazel, Kirrilly ThompsonKirrilly Thompson
Equine transportation research has largely focused on the commercial land movement of horses. Data on the incidence and factors associated with horse injuries during non-commercial transportation (privately owned horse trucks and trailers) is scant. This study surveyed 223 drivers transporting horses to 12 equestrian events in southeastern Australia. Data collected encompassed driver demographics, travel practice, vehicle characteristics, and incidents involving horse injury. Approximately 25% (55/223) of participants reported that their horses were injured during transportation. Of these 72% were owner classified as horse associated (scrambling, slipping and horse-horse interaction), 11% due to mechanical failure, and 6% due to driver error. Horse injury was not significantly associated with driver age, gender, or experience. Participants that answer the telephone whilst driving were more likely to have previously had a horse injured (p = 0.04). There was a trend for participants with <8 hours sleep prior to the survey to have experienced a previous transportation-related injury (p = 0.056). Increased trailer age was associated with a greater number of injury reports (r2 = 0.20; p < 0.04). The diversity in trailer models prevented identification of the importance of individual design features. This study highlights the potential for horses to sustain transportation injuries in privately owned vehicles and warrants further study to address this risk to their welfare.