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Physiological response to the first saddling and first mounting of horses: comparison of two sympathetic training methods

Witold Kędzierski
Department of Animal Biochemistry and Physiology, Faculty of Veterinary Medicine, University of Life Sciences in Lublin, Akademicka 12, 20-033 Lublin, Poland
Abstract :
There is not much research done on the influence of sympathetic training on the emotional reaction
of horses. The aim of the present study was to evaluate the emotional response and the stress level
in horses to two sympathetic training methods: (1) with the use of the “round pen technique” (RP),
and (2) in which the RP was not applied (SH). Twenty two half-bred Anglo-Arab horses (2.5
years ±3 months of age) were subject to an initial training. Eleven horses were randomly included
to the RP method and the other 11 horses for the SH method. Heart rate (HR) and saliva cortisol
concentration were measured as indicators of horse emotional arousal and stress level, respectively.
The HR values were analysed: at rest, during the habituation period, just after the first saddling
and tightening of the girth, during the first time a human leaned over the horse’s back, and during
the mounting of the horse. Saliva samples were taken before and 15 min after each training session
studied. After saddling, the HR occurred significantly higher when the RP technique was used. The
significant increase in saliva cortisol concentration was observed only after the first mounting of
horse. Generally, the use of the RP technique did not involve more important physiological
reactions in the trained horses than did the SH method.
Keywords :
cortisol / emotional reaction/ horses / natural training / stress

Date Deposited : 02 Apr 2015 13:31

Last Modified : 02 Apr 2015 13:31

Official URL:

Volume 32, Number 3, - 2014

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