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Open Access Highly Accessed Review

Psychological factors affecting equine performance

Sebastian D McBride1* and Daniel S Mills2

Author Affiliations

1 Royal Agricultural College, Cirencester, GL7 6JS, Gloucestershire

2 Animal Behaviour, Cognition and Welfare Group, School of Life Science, University of Lincoln, Riseholme Park, LN2 2LG, Lincoln

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BMC Veterinary Research 2012, 8:180  doi:10.1186/1746-6148-8-180

Published: 27 September 2012

Abstract

For optimal individual performance within any equestrian discipline horses must be in peak physical condition and have the correct psychological state. This review discusses the psychological factors that affect the performance of the horse and, in turn, identifies areas within the competition horse industry where current behavioral research and established behavioral modification techniques could be applied to further enhance the performance of animals. In particular, the role of affective processes underpinning temperament, mood and emotional reaction in determining discipline-specific performance is discussed. A comparison is then made between the training and the competition environment and the review completes with a discussion on how behavioral modification techniques and general husbandry can be used advantageously from a performance perspective.

Keywords:
Psychology; Horse; Performance; Behaviour; Temperament; Mood; Emotion; Stress