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40% of horses injured each year, according to survey funded by The Horse Trust

Other interesting findings included the lower incidence of injury in cob and pony breeds, compared to other breeds. Horses used competitively also had a higher risk of injury, which may be due to the additional athletic demands placed on these horses, or due to the way these horses are managed. Horses trained using Parelli methods were also found to be at an increased risk of injury, but as the numbers in this group were small, more research is needed to confirm this.

Although most of the injuries recorded in the survey occurred during turnout, 11% occurred in the stable, with most of the injuries affecting the head or eye. Owners can easily reduce the risk of stable injury, according to Owen. “There are various simple steps that owners can take to reduce the risk of injury in the stable. Try to provide hay from the floor, instead of in a hay rack, and make sure there are no protruding nails, hooks or sharp edges in the stable,” said Owen.

Owen said that it would be useful to conduct further research to understand how injuries occur during turnout. “A lots of injuries are reported during turnout, but we’re uncertain about what happened. It would be useful to observe the behaviour of horses in the field to see whether it’s competition for food, or another factor, that is responsible for the high rate of injuries among horses.”

Jeanette Allen, Chief Executive of The Horse Trust, said Owen’s research has provided useful information for horse owners to allow them to improve their horse’s welfare.

“We are pleased that the research we’ve funded has provided such useful statistics on the risks of injury for horses. We hope that horse owners will follow some of the tips that Owen has suggested to reduce the risk of their horse being injured,” said Jeanette.

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