Equine Transport Study – Results

Behaviour Results

Vocalisation

The duration of vocalisation behaviour was significantly higher when travelling alone (M 9.21 mins ±5.52 SD) than when travelling with a conspecific (M 1.21 mins ±1.30 SD; p<0.001) or with the mirror (M 4.40 mins ±3.48 SD; p<0.05).  The duration of vocalisation when transported with the mirror compared with the conspecific did not differ significantly.

Turning round

Horses turned their head and neck round towards the rear of the trailer significantly more when transported alone (M 6.31 mins ±3.43 SD) compared with both the mirror (M 2.38 mins ±2.08 SD; p<0.001) and travelling with a conspecific (M 0.05 mins ±0.12 SD; p<0.001).  Travelling with the mirror also resulted in the horses turning round for significantly longer than with the conspecific (p<0.05).

Eating

The duration of eating behaviour was significantly lower when travelling alone (M 2.01 ± 4.20 SD) than with the mirror (M 7.09 mins ±6.20 SD; p<0.05) or a conspecific (M 7.53 mins ±5.23 SD; p<0.05).  No significant difference was found between transportation with the mirror and conspecific.

Pawing

The duration of pawing behaviour was significantly longer when transported alone (M 2.17 mins ±2.03 SD) than when travelling with a conspecific (M 0.17 mins ±0.34 SD; p<0.01).  No significant difference was found between transportation with the mirror compared with travelling alone, or with a conspecific.

Head Tossing

Horses carried out more head tossing behaviour whilst travelling alone (M 3.30 mins ±3.25 SD) than when travelling with a conspecific (M 0.40 mins ±1.16 SD; p<0.01). Horses also carried out more of this behaviour whilst alone compared with travelling with the mirror (M 1.11 mins ±1.44 SD; p<0.05).  No significant differences were found between travel with a conspecific and the mirror.

Mean duration of behavioural states recorded per treatment.

Heart Rate Variability Results

During transportation alone heart rates were significantly higher (mean 75 bpm ±4.29 SD) than those recorded during travel with a conspecific (mean 67 bpm ±5.51 SD; p<0.01) and consistently higher than travel with the mirror (mean 70 bpm ±5.64 SD) or baseline values (mean 37 bpm ±3.89 SD). No significant difference was found between travel with the mirror and alone, or with a conspecific.

Mean Heart Rate per Treatment

Transportation alone produced the highest individual heart rates for all twelve horses (mean 88 bpm ±5.32 SD), recorded during the third (n=2), fourth (n=7) and fifth minute (n=3) of each journey.  Four horses had their lowest heart rates recorded during transportation with the mirror (mean 57 bpm ±4.57 SD) recorded during recorded during the first minute of the journey, and between minutes 22 to 25 of the journey.  Nine horses had their lowest heart rates recorded during transportation with a conspecific (mean 58 bpm ±5.54 SD), recorded during the first minute of the journey, and between minutes 21 and 26.

Rectal Temperature Results

After transportation alone, mean Tr increased for all 12 horses by 0.3°C (±0.11 SD) to 38.1°C (±0.25 SD).  After transportation with the mirror, mean Tr increased by 0.24°C (±0.12 SD) to 38°C (±0.29 SD) for ten horses and two horses had a 0.1°C reduction in Tr to 37.9°C.  After transportation with a conspecific 11 horses had a mean increase in Tr of 0.15°C (±0.23 SD) to 37.9°C (±0.20 SD).  Horse 3 recorded no change in Tr.  Mean baseline Tr was 37.7°C (±0.32 SD).

Mean Tr Measurements per Treatment

Rectal temperatues increased significantly more after travelling alone than they did after travelling with a conspecific (p<0.01).  Rectal temperatures did not differ significantly after travelling with the mirror compared with either the conspecific or whilst alone.

Ear Pinna Temperature Results

There was a wide range in Tp recorded for baseline and experimental measurements, however when the mean Tp was calculated it was evident that the difference in Tp recorded for each horse varied between treatments.

Mean Tp Measurements per Treatment

After transportation alone, mean Tp decreased for all 12 horses by 2.5°C (±1.0 SD) to 21.9°C (±1.7 SD).  After transportation with the mirror, mean Tp decreasedby 1.7°C (±0.7 SD) to 24.3°C for nine horses, and three horses had a mean increase in Tp of 1.0°C (±0.9 SD) to 22.3°C (±2.5 SD).  After transportation with a conspecific ten horses had a mean decrease in Tp of 1.1°C (±0.6 SD) to 23.7°C (±3.4 SD).  Two horses recorded an increase in Tp of 3.5°C to 24.7°C.  Mean baseline Tp was 23.7°C (±3.3 SD).

Ear pinna temperature decreased significantly more after travelling alone than after travelling with a conspecific (p<0.01).  Changes in ear pinna temperature did not differ significantly after travelling with the mirror than when alone or with a conspecific.