Horse being led

A new online educational course is designed to help professionals and owners spot the early signs of pain in ridden horses. 

By aiding prompt detection and quick treatment, the resource at aims to help improve horse welfare and performance. 

The 12 part course is presented by international equine lameness specialist Dr Sue Dyson. Produced by Equitopia, it uses Dr Dyson’s research involving six studies and 400 horses.

It illustrates why pain is so poorly understood, the signs to look for, how to use an ethogram [a catalogue of behaviors with definitions] to score pain, and what to do once you find it. 

Previous pain-related behavioral work mostly relates to the facial expressions of non-ridden horses, whereas Dr Dyson’s work looks at the whole horse.

“I was becoming increasingly concerned by the number of riders who were ignoring their horses’ problems for far too long,” she explains. 

“They would say things like ‘he’s always been a grumpy horse’, ‘he’s never been a willing horse’, ‘he’s never wanted to stand to be mounted’. Early recognition is nearly always advantageous for a better prognosis and the course will really help to achieve this.” 

The 12 part course leads to participants being able to confidently assess horses for pain. As well as watching and listening online, it involves interacting with people and horses from local barns and taking quizzes.

“A pain-free horse is a happier horse and we should all be obliged to train ourselves to listen to what our horses are trying to tell us,” concludes Dr Dyson. 

Find out more at www.EquitopiaCenter.com