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Monty Roberts ’ Public Demonstrations: Preliminary Report on the Heart Rate and Heart Rate Variability of Horses Undergoing Training during Live Audience Events

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ABSTRACT

Simple summary: Monty Roberts is a famous horse trainer, commonly referred to as a ‘horse whisperer’, who shares his training methods all over the world, including through large public audience events. These events have the potential to compromise the horse’s welfare since the horses have usually been transported to the event on the day and stabled in an unfamiliar environment before being used in demonstrations watched by hundreds of people. This paper describes the opportunistic collection and analysis of heart rate (HR; beat-to-beat intervals) and heart rate variability (HRV) of horses being trained during Monty Roberts’ public demonstrations within the United Kingdom. HR and HRV measured during the demonstrations were lower (indicative of an increase in heart rate as measured in beats-per-minute) than recordings within the stable and consistent with low-moderate exercise intensities used during training. The HR and HRV during a specific training method known as “Join-up®” were comparable to other methods of training used by Monty Roberts during public demonstrations. In conclusion, training of horses during public demonstrations is a low-moderate physiological, rather than psychological stressor for horses, with the stress response comparable or less than those previously reported in the literature for horses being trained outside of public audience events. Furthermore, we found no evidence that Join-up® alters HR and HRV in a way to suggest that this training method negatively affects the psychological welfare of horses.

Abstract: Effective training of horses relies on the trainer’s awareness of learning theory and equine ethology, and should be undertaken with skill and time. Some trainers, such as Monty Roberts, share their methods through the medium of public demonstrations. This paper describes the opportunistic analysis of beat-to-beat (RR) intervals and heart rate variability (HRV) of ten horses being used in Monty Roberts’ public demonstrations within the United Kingdom. RR and HRV was measured in the stable before training and during training. The HRV variables standard deviation of the RR interval (SDRR), root mean square of successive RR differences (RMSSD), geometric means standard deviation 1 (SD1) and 2 (SD2), along with the low and high frequency ratio (LF/HF ratio) were calculated. The minimum, average and maximum RR intervals were significantly lower in training (indicative of an increase in heart rate as measured in beats-per-minute) than in the stable (p = 0.0006; p = 0.01; p = 0.03). SDRR, RMSSD, SD1, SD2 and the LF/HF ratio were all significantly lower in training than in the stable (p = 0.001; p = 0.049; p = 0.049; p = 0.001; p = 0.01). When comparing the HR and HRV of horses during Join-up® to overall training, there were no significant differences in any variable with the exception of maximum RR which was significantly lower (p = 0.007) during Join-up®, indicative of short increases in physical exertion (canter) associated with this training exercise. In conclusion, training of horses during public demonstrations is a low-moderate physiological, rather than psychological stressor for horses. The physiological stress responses observed within this study were comparable or less to those previously reported in the literature for horses being trained outside of public audience events. Furthermore, there is no evidence that the use of Join-up® alters HR and HRV in a way to suggest that this training method negatively affects the psychological welfare of horses.

No MeSH data available.


Standard deviation of the RR interval (SDRR) (a), root mean square of successive RR differences (RMSSD) (b), and the geometric means standard deviation 1 (SD1) (c) and 2 (SD2) (d) before training (Stable), during their first Join-Up® (Join-up) and during the rest of the training session (Specific training). No statistical difference was observed between first Join-Up® (Join-up) and during the rest of the training session (Specific training). Analysed using generalized linear mixed models (GLMM) and the Wilcoxon signed-rank test.
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animals-06-00055-f005: Standard deviation of the RR interval (SDRR) (a), root mean square of successive RR differences (RMSSD) (b), and the geometric means standard deviation 1 (SD1) (c) and 2 (SD2) (d) before training (Stable), during their first Join-Up® (Join-up) and during the rest of the training session (Specific training). No statistical difference was observed between first Join-Up® (Join-up) and during the rest of the training session (Specific training). Analysed using generalized linear mixed models (GLMM) and the Wilcoxon signed-rank test.

Mentions: Minimum, average and maximum HR (bpm) during first “Join-Up®” were (mean ± SD) 50.86 ± 15.70, 87.14 ± 15.72, and 130.29 ± 26.80, respectively, and within the rest of the training session (specific training-excluding any further Join-up®’s) were (mean ± SD) 51.57 ± 10.90, 77.05 ± 14.14, and 123.43 ± 21.38, respectively. Minimum and average RR intervals during first “Join-Up®“ were not significantly different to the rest of the training session (Figure 4a–c). Maximum RR intervals were significantly lower (p = 0.007) during first “Join-Up®” than during the rest of the training session. There was no difference in LF/HF ratio, SDRR, SD1, SD2, and RMSSD between first Join-Up® and the rest of the training session (Figure 5a–d and Figure 6). Where outliers were observed, these tended to correlate with the same horse(s). For example, the low outlier for SDRR and SD2 and the high outlier for LF/HF ratio in Join-Up® was horse E. The high outlier for RMSSD and SD1 in the stable was horse H. The high outlier for SDRR and SD2 in the stable was horse B.


Monty Roberts ’ Public Demonstrations: Preliminary Report on the Heart Rate and Heart Rate Variability of Horses Undergoing Training during Live Audience Events
Standard deviation of the RR interval (SDRR) (a), root mean square of successive RR differences (RMSSD) (b), and the geometric means standard deviation 1 (SD1) (c) and 2 (SD2) (d) before training (Stable), during their first Join-Up® (Join-up) and during the rest of the training session (Specific training). No statistical difference was observed between first Join-Up® (Join-up) and during the rest of the training session (Specific training). Analysed using generalized linear mixed models (GLMM) and the Wilcoxon signed-rank test.
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Related In: Results  -  Collection

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Show All Figures
getmorefigures.php?uid=PMC5035950&req=5

animals-06-00055-f005: Standard deviation of the RR interval (SDRR) (a), root mean square of successive RR differences (RMSSD) (b), and the geometric means standard deviation 1 (SD1) (c) and 2 (SD2) (d) before training (Stable), during their first Join-Up® (Join-up) and during the rest of the training session (Specific training). No statistical difference was observed between first Join-Up® (Join-up) and during the rest of the training session (Specific training). Analysed using generalized linear mixed models (GLMM) and the Wilcoxon signed-rank test.
Mentions: Minimum, average and maximum HR (bpm) during first “Join-Up®” were (mean ± SD) 50.86 ± 15.70, 87.14 ± 15.72, and 130.29 ± 26.80, respectively, and within the rest of the training session (specific training-excluding any further Join-up®’s) were (mean ± SD) 51.57 ± 10.90, 77.05 ± 14.14, and 123.43 ± 21.38, respectively. Minimum and average RR intervals during first “Join-Up®“ were not significantly different to the rest of the training session (Figure 4a–c). Maximum RR intervals were significantly lower (p = 0.007) during first “Join-Up®” than during the rest of the training session. There was no difference in LF/HF ratio, SDRR, SD1, SD2, and RMSSD between first Join-Up® and the rest of the training session (Figure 5a–d and Figure 6). Where outliers were observed, these tended to correlate with the same horse(s). For example, the low outlier for SDRR and SD2 and the high outlier for LF/HF ratio in Join-Up® was horse E. The high outlier for RMSSD and SD1 in the stable was horse H. The high outlier for SDRR and SD2 in the stable was horse B.

View Article: PubMed Central - PubMed

ABSTRACT

Simple summary: Monty Roberts is a famous horse trainer, commonly referred to as a ‘horse whisperer’, who shares his training methods all over the world, including through large public audience events. These events have the potential to compromise the horse’s welfare since the horses have usually been transported to the event on the day and stabled in an unfamiliar environment before being used in demonstrations watched by hundreds of people. This paper describes the opportunistic collection and analysis of heart rate (HR; beat-to-beat intervals) and heart rate variability (HRV) of horses being trained during Monty Roberts’ public demonstrations within the United Kingdom. HR and HRV measured during the demonstrations were lower (indicative of an increase in heart rate as measured in beats-per-minute) than recordings within the stable and consistent with low-moderate exercise intensities used during training. The HR and HRV during a specific training method known as “Join-up®” were comparable to other methods of training used by Monty Roberts during public demonstrations. In conclusion, training of horses during public demonstrations is a low-moderate physiological, rather than psychological stressor for horses, with the stress response comparable or less than those previously reported in the literature for horses being trained outside of public audience events. Furthermore, we found no evidence that Join-up® alters HR and HRV in a way to suggest that this training method negatively affects the psychological welfare of horses.

Abstract: Effective training of horses relies on the trainer’s awareness of learning theory and equine ethology, and should be undertaken with skill and time. Some trainers, such as Monty Roberts, share their methods through the medium of public demonstrations. This paper describes the opportunistic analysis of beat-to-beat (RR) intervals and heart rate variability (HRV) of ten horses being used in Monty Roberts’ public demonstrations within the United Kingdom. RR and HRV was measured in the stable before training and during training. The HRV variables standard deviation of the RR interval (SDRR), root mean square of successive RR differences (RMSSD), geometric means standard deviation 1 (SD1) and 2 (SD2), along with the low and high frequency ratio (LF/HF ratio) were calculated. The minimum, average and maximum RR intervals were significantly lower in training (indicative of an increase in heart rate as measured in beats-per-minute) than in the stable (p = 0.0006; p = 0.01; p = 0.03). SDRR, RMSSD, SD1, SD2 and the LF/HF ratio were all significantly lower in training than in the stable (p = 0.001; p = 0.049; p = 0.049; p = 0.001; p = 0.01). When comparing the HR and HRV of horses during Join-up® to overall training, there were no significant differences in any variable with the exception of maximum RR which was significantly lower (p = 0.007) during Join-up®, indicative of short increases in physical exertion (canter) associated with this training exercise. In conclusion, training of horses during public demonstrations is a low-moderate physiological, rather than psychological stressor for horses. The physiological stress responses observed within this study were comparable or less to those previously reported in the literature for horses being trained outside of public audience events. Furthermore, there is no evidence that the use of Join-up® alters HR and HRV in a way to suggest that this training method negatively affects the psychological welfare of horses.

No MeSH data available.