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Effects of handling & transport on unbroken ponies - AW0934

A limited number of studies have investigated the welfare of horses and ponies during transport, however almost all of this work has been undertaken with halter-trained horses and ponies. Little work has been completed that has investigated the effect of transport on the welfare of ponies that have not been halter-trained (“unbroken”). For many of these “unbroken” ponies the events leading up to transportation will have been the first time that they have been handled and it is assumed that the situation will therefore be more stressful to these animals. The studies that have been carried out on transportation of halter-broken horses and ponies are not applicable to the situation where unbroken ponies are transported as these ponies have different previous experiences and are transported under different conditions, i.e. often in large, loose groups. In addition, riding and competition horses tend to be given special care during transportation to avoid injury. Ponies of low monetary and emotional value e.g. unbroken native ponies that are frequently moved through markets, are likely to experience a different set of problems. The European Commission have identified the need to better develop the knowledge on animal welfare during transport as part of the draft regulations for the protection of animals during transport and related operations. Many of the equine welfare organisations have concerns about markets and how ponies are transported and are demanding definitive guidelines based on scientific studies. Through their Animal Health and Welfare Research Requirements, Defra have made a commitment to initiate studies to assess the welfare of unbroken ponies during transport. The transport of animals is a complex process, which can involve a number of potential stressors. These include handling, loading, unloading, removal from a familiar physical and social environment, confinement, environmental challenges and often deprivation of food and water. The key components of the transport process will be investigated as individual components as well as in combination. This approach has the advantage of identifying which component is the most stressful for animals whilst acknowledging the complexity of the overall problem and the potential for individual stressors to be additive. The work described in this proposal will provide a sound scientific basis for the development of guidelines specific to the transportation of unbroken ponies. The guidelines will include recommendations for all aspects of the transport process including market situations, loading, stocking densities, rest stops, journey lengths and the provision of water and feed. The final guidelines will be disseminated at a stakeholders’ workshop that will include Defra, WAG, SEERAD, local authorities, SVS and equine welfare charities. The guidelines can then be incorporated into Defra’s current guidelines on transport of animals or issued as a separate document.
The overall scientific objective is to quantify the welfare of unbroken ponies during transport and associated events, in relation to ponies that have been previously handled. Objective 1: Industry survey to gather information on transport factors such as stocking rates, journey lengths. Objective 2: To assess the effects of various components of the market experience that may effect the ability of unbroken ponies to cope with the transportation process. Objective 3: To assess the welfare of ponies during the loading process Objective 4: To assess the welfare of ponies under different transportation regimes Objective 5: To produce guidelines on the transportation of unbroken ponies
Project Documents
• Final Report - Annex : Effect of handling and transport on unbroken ponies   (252k)
• Final Report - Annex : Effect of handling and transport on unbroken ponies   (1702k)
• Final Report - Annex : Effect of handling and transport on unbroken ponies   (68k)
• Final Report - SID5A : Effect of handling and transport on unbroken ponies   (353k)
Time-Scale and Cost
From: 2005

To: 2008

Cost: £244,329
Contractor / Funded Organisations
University - Edinburgh, ADAS UK Ltd.
Animal Welfare              
Plants and Animals              
Fields of Study
Animal Welfare