Confidence and capability to identify and treat stress in horses: A self-reflection by veterinary professionals


AWF Research Fund



Research Period


Area of study

Student Research


Investigator(s): Laura Simons

Supervisor(s): Dr Jo Hockenhull

The aim of this project is to discover the self-perceptions of UK veterinarians and final year veterinary students in relation to their ability to identify and treat stress in horses. This project will hopefully provide a basis for future, larger-scale studies to investigate key factors that influence veterinary competence and confidence in their abilities.

Stress has been proven to significantly worsen quality of life in several mammalian species, including horses (Mellor and Beausoleil 2015). Identifying factors that influence professional competence and confidence of vets to identify and treat stress are essential to inform training of future vets and increase the likelihood of successful interventions that result in better quality of life and welfare for equine patients.

This project will yield data on how UK vets currently identify and treat stress in horses, and whether they feel that more in-depth training is needed on university curriculums and CPD. Publication of this project will spread awareness within the veterinary community of stress as a primary welfare concern in horses and reinforce their role in addressing this. It will offer all participants the opportunity for self-reflection, a core skill outlined by the RCVS. Finally, this project may provide a basis for future studies investigating trends in the self-perception of veterinary professionals and potentially shape changes to the UK veterinary curriculum and CPD offering.

Completing this project, albeit short-term, in the early stages of Laura's degree would generate interest with potential collaborators in welfare science, paving the way for her involvement in future studies, and undoubtedly informing her career progression.