A paper titled “Monty Roberts’ public demonstrations: Preliminary report on the heart rate and heart rate variability of horses undergoing training during live audience events” has been accepted for publication in the international journal “Animals.”
“Animals” is an international and interdisciplinary scholarly open access journal concerned with publishing high quality scientific papers within the field of ‘animals’, including zoology, ethnozoology, animal science, animal ethics and animal welfare. In particular, this journal showcases scientific study describing animals’ interactions with the outside world, including humans. “Animals” is a member of the Committee on Publication Ethics (COPE) and takes the responsibility to enforce a rigorous peer-review together with strict ethical policies and standards to ensure the addition of high quality scientific works to the field of scholarly publication.
This new paper describes the opportunistic collection and analysis of heart rate (HR; beat-to-beat intervals) and heart rate variability (HRV) of 10 horses being trained during Monty Roberts’ public demonstrations within the United Kingdom and is authored by Loni Loftus, Kelly Marks, Rosie Jones-McVey, Jose L. Gonzales and Dr. Veronica L. Fowler (lead author).
Key findings from the study include:
• Stress responses recorded in this study were comparable (e.g. when compared to horses undergoing foundation training) or more favorable (e.g. when compared to novel object tests, handling tests or horses anticipating competition) to previously reported studies in the literature.
• Stress responses during public demonstrations were proportional to low-moderate exercise intensities described in other training methods where horses were under similar levels of physiological stress as reported in literature.
• The stress responses during a specific training method known as “Join-Up®” were comparable to other methods of training used by Monty Roberts during public demonstrations, and were consistent with exercise intensity (physiological stress). There was no evidence that Join-Up® altered HR and HRV in a way to suggest that this training method presents the horse with psychological or physical stressors which would negatively affect welfare.
• There was preliminary evidence that training undertaken in a roundpen, including Join-Up® controls or inhibits the flight response (limits the fear response).
In conclusion, training of horses during public demonstrations is a mild stressor for horses. However the stress responses observed within this study were comparable or less to those previously reported in the literature for horses being trained outside of public audience events and was indicative of exercise at low-moderate intensity (physiological stress), rather than psychological stress.
The full paper will be available open access within 10 days.