Identifying causes and preventing injuries to horses
Sammanfattning: Today there are approximately 220 000 horses in Sweden and every third person has in some way contact with horses or horse-related sports. During the last ten years the number of horses has increased with approximately 40 %. But according to Agria (a Swedish animal insurance company) there has been a 50.5% increase in number of injuries per 10 000 horse from 1995 to 1999. There is very little earlier work on trying to identify factors that increase the risk of the horse being injured. The aim of this study is to determine the cause of the most commonly occurring injuries to horses and it is hoped to determine whether these types of injuries can be prevented, or at least the frequency of them reduced. A questionnaire was sent to 268 horse-owners that had visited the animal-hospital in Ultuna. They were divided into two groups, the first 134 had visited the animal-hospital because the horse was injured, and those were the test-group. The other 134 visited the hospital because something else was wrong with their horse, for example colic or castration. This was the control-group. The questionnaire consisted of five different sections (the control-group received a questionnaire where part c was removed); a) Information about the owner/caretaker of the horse b) Information about the horse c) Information about the injury and how it happened d) Information how the horse is kept outdoors and indoors e) Information how the horse is exercised and trained By gathering information about the injury, how the horse is kept and trained and then comparing the two groups, it is hoped to determine whether horse-injuries can be prevented or at least the frequency of them reduced. It was found that 74 % of horses were injured in paddock and that these 89% of these injuries were on the legs (53% back and 36% front legs). More specifically it was found that 31% of the horses were injured by something in the paddock, 22% kicked by another horse and 17% fastened in fence around the paddock. Although 16% of responders stated that the accident was impossible to prevent, the most commonly reported suggestion to prevent future accidents was to search the paddock for things that the horse can hurt itself on, for example stones or branches, or to improve the fencing. The only significant difference between the two treatment groups was regarding the time that the horses spent outdoors. Horses in test group that visited the clinic because the horse had a trauma injury were on average kept outdoors 12.5 hours per day compared to 9.6 hours per day for horses in the control group who visited the clinic for reasons unrelated to an accidental injury. According to this investigation there did not seem not to be any large differences in how the horse owner stabled and trained their horses. As a consequence of this, it is not possible to give any recommendations in these areas to decrease the risk of getting the horse injured. Although accidents keep occuring and horses get injured, so there is still much work to do!
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