Horses’ behaviour during tacking up and mounting: do horse owners recognise abnormal behaviour?

Dr. Sue Dyson led the study on tacking up behaviour in horses which involved a regular rider of each horse completing a questionnaire about the history of professional tack fitting, previous diagnosis of gastric ulceration, and their perception of the horse’s behaviour during tacking up and mounting.

A similar questionnaire was completed by an experienced assessor during tacking up and mounting. The horse’s back was assessed to determine the presence of back muscle pain or tension. Tack fit for the horse and rider was assessed. The horse was observed ridden to determine rider position and balance and the presence or absence of any gait abnormalities. The ridden phase was low-impact, basic exercise for a maximum of 15 minutes to include walk, trot and canter in an arena. Horses and ponies were required to be in regular ridden work.

165 broad-ranging horse and rider combinations took part, from novice to advanced riders, covering a wide spectrum of horses, including Cheltenham winners, event and dressage horses, native breeds, ex-racers and family happy hackers. The entire assessment of each horse and rider combination took approximately 30 minutes.

The results of this important research have the potential to make a real impact to equine welfare and performance through the education of horse owners and riders everywhere. We’d like to extend a huge “Thank You” to all the venues, organisers and riders who generously gave their time:

Colleen Pridmore, Smallage Farm Equestrian Centre, Rotherham
Penny Lawn, Old Windmill Stud, Wetherby
Simon Grieve, Stonelodge Farm, Melton Mowbray
Anne & David Bondi, Firbeck House, Worksop
Tracy Bye, Bishop Burton College
Laura Whyte, Silkwood Equestrian, Blackburn
Dawn Joyce, Reaseheath College
Kathyrn Nakervis, Hartpury College
Chris and Antonia Bealby, North Lodge, Barrowby