Chem­i­cal calm­ing

A rid­ing school owner of­ten takes horses off-prop­erty to shows where they are rid­den by stu­dents. On show days, the owner gives the horses an in­jec­tion be­cause it “set­tles them down” for the in­ex­pe­ri­enced rid­ers.

EQUUS - - Eq Casereport -

The me­dian rank­ing for this sce­nario was 3, with a range of 1 to 5.

From a strictly wel­fare per­spec­tive, some re­spon­dents pointed out that a se­dated horse may be more likely to stum­ble or fall and in­jure him­self. The waters be­come mud­died, how­ever, when hu­man safety was con­sid­ered.

“Some of the re­sponses said that if the rider was safer on a se­dated horse this prac­tice was ac­cept­able,” says DuBois. “On the other hand, some par­tic­i­pants in­di­cated that the horse might trip if se­dated, mak­ing the rider un­safe. We saw both pos­si­bil­i­ties rep­re­sented in the re­sponses.”

Within the ex­pla­na­tions for the rank­ing of this sce­nario, there was some in­di­ca­tion that in­di­vid­u­als who were fa­mil­iar with these prac­tices did not rank them as high as par­tic­i­pants who were un­fa­mil­iar with them. “This type of bias has been doc­u­mented by other re­searchers,” says DuBois. “In­di­vid­u­als are of­ten more crit­i­cal of for­eign prac­tices, whereas fa­mil­iar prac­tices are met with less re­sis­tance.”

Heart­break­ing im­ages of starved horses seized by au­thor­i­ties il­lus­trate the very worst wel­fare cases. Such cases are easy to iden­tify and con­front. Far more com­mon, how­ever, are more nu­anced sit­u­a­tions where ques­tions of wel­fare are not clear-cut. A good place for each of us to start is re­flect­ing on our own re­ac­tions to var­i­ous horse­keep­ing sit­u­a­tions and rec­og­niz­ing what may be shap­ing our po­si­tions. From there we can join the con­ver­sa­tion.

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