The use of heart rate variability measurements as a non-invasive method of assessing affective state in horses

Kay, R., 2012. The use of heart rate variability measurements as a non-invasive method of assessing affective state in horses. PhD, Nottingham Trent University.

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Abstract

Domestic horses maintain many of their innate behavioural traits as a group-living, free-ranging herbivore that usually avoids predation by flight. Confinement, isolation, restraint, riding, training and exposure to management practices present a vastly different experience to their natural environment but the psychological need to respond to environmental factors may remain, even when the biological motivation has been removed. This disparity can lead to the development of physiological and behavioural abnormalities indicative of a negative affective state and poor welfare. The concept of animal welfare should include the animals’ physical and psychological health and harmony with their environment. There is an increasing call for subjective feelings and the assessment of emotion to be taken into account so that welfare can be enhanced by increasing the incidence of positive experiences and minimising negative ones. Reliably establishing the affective state of an animal is a challenging task but measuring physiology and behaviour in response to pleasant or unpleasant stimuli can provide evidence for the existence of affective state. Equine research has endeavoured to identify ‘reactivity’, temperament and emotionality but has not yet investigated underlying affective state in response to different stimuli, the existence of, or factors that might influence positive affective states. As such, there is no strong scientific knowledge of what equine emotional experiences are. Many physiological measures involve invasive procedures that contribute to the stress load of the individual and non-invasive methods often only determine the presence or absence of ‘stress’ or are dogged by interpretive problems.

Item Type: Thesis
Creators: Kay, R.
Date: 2012
Rights: This work is the intellectual property of the author Rachel Kay. You may copy up to 5% of this work for private study, or personal, non-commercial research. Any re-use of the information contained within this document should be fully referenced, quoting the author, title, university, degree level and pagination. Queries or requests for any other use, or if a more substantial copy is required, should be directed in the owner of the Intellectual Property Rights.
Divisions: Schools > School of Animal, Rural and Environmental Sciences
Depositing User: EPrints Services
Date Added: 09 Oct 2015 09:33
Last Modified: 09 Oct 2015 09:33
URI: http://irep.ntu.ac.uk/id/eprint/25

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