UN­DER­STAND­ING MO­TIVES

The over­whelm­ingly com­mon per­ceived mo­ti­va­tion across the 12 sce­nar­ios was “ig­no­rance,” which was men­tioned 97 times.

EQUUS - - Eq Casereport -

Pro­duc­tive dis­cus­sions of equine wel­fare is­sues re­quire ex­am­in­ing your own per­cep­tions and po­ten­tial bi­ases closely. But they also re­quire an un­der­stand­ing of what might mo­ti­vate peo­ple to care for horses in ways that risk their wel­fare.

As part of on­go­ing re­search into per­cep­tions of wel­fare is­sues, Cordelie DuBois, a doc­toral can­di­date at the Univer­sity of Guelph, asked 14 equine pro­fes­sion­als to spec­u­late on the mo­ti­va­tion be­hind 12 hy­po­thet­i­cal sit­u­a­tions in­volv­ing horse use and man­age­ment. “We wanted to know why peo­ple thought other peo­ple made the choices they did,” says DuBois.

The over­whelm­ingly com­mon per­ceived mo­ti­va­tion across the 12 sce­nar­ios was “ig­no­rance,” which was men­tioned 97 times. The most com­mon sec­ondary de­scrip­tor in that cat­e­gory was “lack of knowl­edge,” men­tioned 49 times out of those 97. This means the ex­perts sur­mised that most poor wel­fare de­ci­sions were made be­cause the in­di­vid­u­als in­volved didn’t know any bet­ter.

“Ig­no­rance typ­i­cally has two dif­fer­ent types,” says DuBois. “While one type is ‘lack of knowl­edge’—sim­ply not hav­ing the knowl­edge ne­c­es­sary for a task—the other is some­thing called ‘closed ig­no­rance’; that is, a be­lief that one knows all one needs to know. Both of these pro­vide their own unique chal­lenges with re­spect to how best to ad­dress them.” Other sub­sets within the “ig­no­rance” cat­e­gory in­cluded “lack of ex­pe­ri­ence,” “lack of plan­ning” and “lack of com­mon sense.”

The sec­ond most of­ten cited mo­ti­va­tor was “fi­nan­cial rea­sons,” with 80 re­sponses and “lack of re­sources” be­ing the most com­mon sec­ondary de­scrip­tion. “Hu­man ben­e­fit” was the third most com­monly cited mo­ti­va­tor, with 55 men­tions and more spe­cific de­scrip­tions be­ing “safety” and “a de­sire to win.” The fi­nal com­mon mo­ti­va­tor re­sponse was “con­ve­nience” with 36 men­tions and “lazi­ness” be­ing the most com­mon sec­ondary de­scrip­tion in that cat­e­gory.

“Hu­man care­givers play a vi­tal role in the wel­fare of their horses,” says DuBois. “As a re­sult, an im­por­tant part of im­prov­ing equine wel­fare is un­der­stand­ing why they man­age their horses the way they do.”

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