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Consciousness-raising in animal welfare through practical experience with horses

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Author(s): Giovanni Gamberini | Nicola Bernabò | Pia Lucidi | Umberta Persichetti | Roberto Trentini | Marilena Sticco | Filomena J. Misantone

Journal: Advances in Molecular Imaging
ISSN 2161-6728

Volume: 02;
Issue: 01;
Start page: 49;
Date: 2012;
Original page

Keywords: Animal Welfare | Applied Ethology | Horse | Veterinary Education

ABSTRACT
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.
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