Noseband nastiness highlighted by USyd research

A welfare issue for horses fitted with tight nosebands has been highlighted by new research from the University of Sydney’s Faculty of Veterinary Science.

‘The Effect of Noseband Tightening on Horses’ Behaviour, Eye Temperature, and Cardiac Responses’ was published in PLOS ONE journal in early May, and finds that horses experience physiological stress responses when prevented from moving their jaws.

The study reveals instances of horses’ resting heart rates rising from 34bpm to 100bpm following noseband tightening.

The use of restrictive nosebands to bind the jaws of sport horses is a common practice according to the study’s lead author, horse trainer Kate Fenner. Continue reading Noseband nastiness highlighted by USyd research

Veterinary Associations prioritise animal welfare

Two major veterinary associations have listed animal welfare as their top strategic priority in response to overwhelming feedback from veterinarians.

In February the Australian Veterinary Association (AVA) launched its 2016-2021 five year strategy, with animal welfare taking the number one position of five priority areas. The British Veterinary Association (BVA) also launched its new animal welfare policy, entitled Vets Speaking Up for Animal Welfare. Both policies stress the need for veterinarians to advocate animal welfare.

AVA President Robert Johnson said that while there was an assumption that every veterinarian has the welfare of animals on their agenda, there was a need to “make a clear statement that animal welfare is a top priority.” Continue reading Veterinary Associations prioritise animal welfare

Research reveals loophole in whipping rules


Fig 1 bA Sydney University study has exposed a loophole in whipping rules which may inadvertently encourage jockeys to use a whip in a way that causes more harm.

The study, published in the Journal of Veterinary Behavior, analysed both forehand and backhand whipstrikes of jockeys in Victoria.

Under the Australian Racing Board’s Rules of Racing, jockeys are limited in using forehand whip strikes. Forehand whipstrikes may not be delivered in consecutive strides nor on more than five occasions before the final 100 metres. However, backhand strikes are permitted without reservation – as long as the horse is in contention.

According to the paper, “this seems to imply that backhand whip use is less closely scrutinised, which may have profound implications for horse welfare.”

Lead investigatory Professor Paul McGreevy said that approximately 70 per cent of whip use is backhand – and thus immune to limitations under the 2009 ARB rules.

A previous study by the same team found that whip strikes caused a visible indentation in 83 per cent of impacts, and the unpadded section of the whip made contact with the horse in 64 per cent of cases.

Continue reading Research reveals loophole in whipping rules