Consciousness-raising in animal welfare through practical experience with horses


In Italy, Law no. 189/2004 (enforced by law n. 201/2010) on safeguarding animal welfare establishes penalties for anyone keeping animals in conditions that are incompatible with their physiological or ethological needs. Thus, in order to recognize the condition of poor welfare or mistreatment, the training of a veterinarian needs to adopt a new approach to animal well being —that is somewhat different from the health ideas that have been prevalent so far. In this research we carry out an evaluation of the competence of veterinary students after a theoric 20-hour course in ethology and after three weeks of practical horses handling class. For two years 24 students were selected to took part in a program of horse management, in order to reach a high level of practical competence, from the ability to recognize non-verbal signals from horses, to cleaning and grooming, and to a more specific and refined ability—the establishment of a relationship with horse. While the skill level at the beginning was generally low, being the students’ backgrounds mainly urban, at the end of the practical course nearly 90% of them succeeded in the area of horse-human relationship, reaching evaluations in a range of good-excellent scores (p < 0.01). By combining over the years the applied ethology knowledge with the more profession-oriented health-related subjects, veterinary education will give students the resources that can better assist them in facing the challenges they will meet in their working lives. The fact that too many unlawful horses’ estab-lishments are often found all over the countries point indeed to a need for new experienced, well-trained professional people.

Share and Cite:

Trentini, R. , Sticco, M. , Misantone, F. , Persichetti, U. , Gamberini, G. , Bernabò, N. and Lucidi, P. (2012) Consciousness-raising in animal welfare through practical experience with horses. Open Journal of Animal Sciences, 2, 49-55. doi: 10.4236/ojas.2012.21008.

Conflicts of Interest

The authors declare no conflicts of interest.


[1] Millman, S.T., Adams, C.L. and Turner, P.V. (2005) Animal welfare training at the Ontario veterinary college. Journal of Veterinary Medical Education, 32, 447-450. doi:10.3138/jvme.32.4.447
[2] Bayvel, A.C. and Cross, N. (2010) Animal welfare: A complex domestic and international public-policy issue— Who are the key players? Journal of Ve-terinary Medical Education, 37, 3-12. doi:10.3138/jvme.37.1.3
[3] Abutarbush, A.M., Naylor, J.M., Parchoma, G., D’Eon, M., Petrie, L. and Carruthers, T. (2006) Evaluation of traditional instruction versus a self-learning computer module in teaching veterinary students how to pass a nasogastric tube in the horse. Journal of Veterinary Medical Education, 33, 447-454. doi:10.3138/jvme.33.3.447
[4] Paul, E.S. and Podberscek, A.L. (2000) Veterinary education and students’ attitudes towards animal welfare. Veterinary Record, 4, 269-272. doi:10.1136/vr.146.10.269
[5] Heuschmann, G. (2007) Finger in der wunde. I. Sonntag Ed., Wu Wey Verlag., Shondorf am Ammersee, Germany.
[6] Martinsen, S. and Jukes, N. (2005) Towards a humane veterinary education. Journal of Veterinary Medical Education, 32, 454-460. doi:10.3138/jvme.32.4.454
[7] Main, D.C.J. (2010) Evolution of animal-welfare education for veterinary students. Journal of Veterinary Medical Education, 37, 30-35. doi:10.3138/jvme.37.1.30
[8] Klinghammer, E. and Fox, W. (1971) Ethology and its place in animal science. Journal of Animal Science, 32, 1278-1283.
[9] Hausberger, M., Roche, H., Henry, S. and Visser, E.K. (2008) A review of the hu-man-horse relationship. Applied Animal Behaviour Science, 109, 1-24. doi:10.1016/j.applanim.2007.04.015
[10] Advice of the last World Conference on Veterinary Education, France 2011.
[11] Levine, E.D., Mills, D.S. and Houpt, K.A. (2005) Attitudes of veterinary students at one US college toward factor relating to farm animal welfare. Journal of Veterinary Medical Education, 32, 481-490. doi:10.3138/jvme.32.4.481
[12] Fox, W. (1967) The place and future of animal behavior studies in veterinary medicine. Journal of the American Veterinary Medical association, 151, 609-615.
[13] Gregory, N.G. and Grandin, T. (2007) Animal welfare and the meat market. In: Gregory, Ed., Animal Welfare and Meat Production, 2nd Edition, CABI, Oxforshire, UK, 1-21.
[14] Horgan, R. and Gavinelli, A. (2006) The expanding role of animal welfare within EU legislation and beyond. Li-vestock Science, 103, 303-307. doi:10.1016/j.livsci.2006.05.019
[15] Hanlon, A., Gath, V. and Mulligan, F. (2007) Practical animal-handling classes at uni-versity college Dublin. Journal of Veterinary Medical Education, 34, 561-565. doi:10.3138/jvme.34.5.561

Copyright © 2024 by authors and Scientific Research Publishing Inc.

Creative Commons License

This work and the related PDF file are licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.