Questionnaire assessment of the ability of equestrians in the UK to detect lameness in horses


AWF Research Fund



Research Period


Area of study

Student Research


Investigator(s): Harley Debeuc

Supervisor(s): Elizabeth Roberts

This project aimed to assess equestrians’ ability to detect lameness in horses using videos of lameness workups. It also aimed to analyse the relationship between the ability to detect lameness and a) profession, b) experience level with horses, and c) previous experience of lameness in horses. These objectives were met by using statistical analysis to compare the participants responses against their ability to detect the lameness in the videos. Chi-squared tests were used to analyse the data as it was nominal data comparing two or more groups.

This study concluded that higher grade lameness is more correctly identified by equestrians than lower grade lameness, correlating with previous studies. Profession affects the ability to detect lameness with clinical equine professionals correctly identifying the lame limb more consistently than horse owners, those in non-clinical equine professions, and those with no involvement with horses. Having more years of experience with horses improves the ability to detect lameness with the optimum level of experience being 10-19 years.

The results from this project could impact the welfare of horses; if a large proportion of equestrians are unable to detect lameness, then the horses in their care may have issues that are going undetected. By realising the lack of ability to detect lameness there could be reason to educate horse owners on the techniques of lameness detection to allow more horses to receive earlier diagnosis and treatment.

Further research is needed to fully establish some of the aforementioned relationships, and to further investigate the ability of equestrians in the UK to detect lameness in lunging and ridden aspects of lameness assessment.


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