- Charles Sturt leads research into how racehorses express emotions to optimise management of any horses that interact with humans
Charles Sturt University academics are collaborating on an international project to investigate how racehorses express positive emotions in their interaction with humans.
Researchers from Charles Sturt, EITITe Pūkenga in New Zealand and Hartpury University in the United Kingdom have secured funding from the Hong Kong Jockey Club (HKJC) Equine Welfare Foundation for the three-year study.
The research program is aimed at improving equine welfare, with a focus on the racehorse industry, and to develop methods of assessing welfare that can be used to optimise the management of any horse that interacts with humans.
The three-year study will use a mixture of research approaches, including a Delphi study to assess horse welfare and a series of field-based experiments to evaluate equine emotional state in controlled and industry conditions.
The project will produce practical tools that will enable those working with horses to become more informed about how their horse is feeling to improve their management and improve performance outcomes.
Professor of Equine Science and Acting Head of the Charles Sturt School of Agricultural, Environmental and Veterinary Sciences Professor Hayley Randle is grateful for the funding from the HKJC and for Charles Sturt to be able to lead this study.
“Providing funding for this kind of research demonstrates the commitment of the HKJC to supporting rigorous research that seeks to provide objective evidence of positive emotions in horses,” she said.
“This is particularly important as the way that welfare is measured is changing.
“People are taking horses’ mental wellbeing much more seriously than ever before, and this means that the industry and everyone working in it has as well.”
Professor Randle said this project adds to equine welfare research already conducted by all team members across the globe.
Other researchers on this project include Associate Professor Jane Williams from Hartpury University, Professor of One Welfare Natalie Waran from New Zealand, and Charles Sturt PhD graduate Dr Cathrynne Henshall.
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