Wednesday, 30 May 2012

Instagram Photos And Update!

Just a little update. I have finished my exams now, they went better than I was expecting. Therefore I have finished the taught part of my Animal Science masters degree and I am now back at home. I now have to carry out a dissertation project in order to complete my masters but first I am having a week off! For my project I am going to be looking at the effect wormers have on the microbes in the horse's digestive tract that help to break down the food. I am carrying this out in conjunction with a company but I will have to speak to them and ask them if I can write about them on here! The final draft of my dissertation has to be handed in at the end of November. Next week I will be going to the company to start making arrangements and collecting samples (horse poo!). I will be spending the summer coming backwards and forwards between home, uni and the company, I am hoping to spend most of my time at home though.

I am going to try and speak to the donkey sanctuary I worked at last summer for 2 weeks to see if I can volunteer there once a week. I don't know if I will be able to because it will only be for a few months and I will be away some weeks. They know me now from last year though and I don't mind mucking out! It would be nice if I can do some blogs on there too!

Here are some Instagram photos I have taken over the past few months. Instagram is an app I have on my phone to edit photos and it is really good and easy to use!

Love Laura

Friday, 25 May 2012

Evolution Of Equine Behaviour

A while ago I wrote a post on the evolution of the horse. I am currently revising for my last exam which is on Monday morning and is on equine behaviour and welfare. Part of this module covers the evolution of equine behaviour so I decided to write a post on it.

Looking at the evolution of behaviour is interesting as the behaviours and level of intelligence that a horse shows must have evolved for specific reasons. They must have lead to an improved survival rate in the horse. Behaviour allows adaptation to the environment for protection, reproduction and body maintenance. An example of body maintenance behaviour is seeking shade when the weather is too hot or finding food and water.

When looking at fight or flight in the horse, flight is their primary mechanism of defence. In horses, their flight mechanism is very sensitive. They are built to be able to stand for long periods of time which is an advantage when being prepared to escape from predators. Horses will lay down but often only for a short period of time and when other standing horses are present.

Social behaviour
Horses have evolved to be social animals. This has given them an advantage in a a number of areas including protection, maintenance and reproduction. There are often variations in herd structures depending on environmental pressures such as how much food and water is present. The natural herd structure is rarely replicated in the domestic situation. The dominance hierarchy may still be seen however. In the domestic situation the herd is often more unstable than in the wild. This is due to new horses coming on to a yard and other horses being sold and moving onto another yard. This results in the continual re-establishment of the hierarchy. Social isolation may also be seen in domestic situations, particularly in stallions who are often isolated which can lead to behavioural problems.

Horses' social cognitive abilities have allowed them to succeed in a wide range of environments including those closely linked with humans.

Hamilton (1971) developed the selfish herd theory when looking at horses. It was thought that a horse may have had a mutation which increases it's reproductive strategy by taking cover between it's herd companions. This would make it less likely to be caught be predators. The novel behaviour would spread through the whole population as horses with this behaviour would be more successful at surviving and therefore reproducing.

The horse does have a strong tendency to gather in groups supporting Hamilton's selfish herd theory. However, other factors should be taken into account. The horses' ability to detect it's neighbours is an important factor in the dynamics of group formation. Not only the nearest neighbours but also the behaviour of distant neighbours gives useful information in case of predation (Viscido et al, 2002).

It has been found that when introducing a group of horses to a bucket of feed a hierarchy will be established. After a period of time dominant individuals showed tolerant type behaviour to other horses that were ranked below them in the hierarchy. Tolerated horses were found to have an increased food intake compared to non-tolerant individuals at an equal position in the hierarchy (Kolter, 1984).

Studies observing Prezwalski horses has show that a band’s behaviour can be synchronised between 50-98% of the time. Communication between the group helps this. Horses usually communicate without using their voices as they are prey animals.

When looking at a band of horses the position they are standing within the group may affect their ear movements. Horses at the front of a moving group tend to have their ears forward while the rest orientate their ears backwards. This suggests that their ears are being used for surveillance.

When horses are frightened by or simply suspicious of a stimulus, their alarm is often indicated by switching the direction of the ears and by a tense mouth and dilated nostrils. Alarmed horses tend to withdraw from stimuli with jerky movements that contribute as a survival strategy because they confuse the predator leading them unable to predict the horse's route of escape.

Primary forms of equine communication are vocalisation such as whiney, neigh or squeal. Body postures are also important such as being agonistic or submissive. Ear positions are another indicator as they have limited number of facial muscles but increased number of ocular muscles. Ear position and movement often used to communicate, aggression, alertness and vigilance.

Before placing new horses in a group, it is preferable to introduce horses to one another individually so that they have the opportunity to form pair bonds. The first meeting of two strangers can be facilitated if both are sufficiently hungry to be distracted by food sources placed a safe distance apart

Where possible the horse should be kept in social groups as they respond poorly to being isolated. Horses without companions have been found to spend 10% less time eating and are three times more active than horses that could make auditory, visual and tactile contact with other horses. There is evidence that mirrors may help.

This information has come from a variety of resources. I might write more of these posts on equine behaviour as part of my revision so watch out over the next few days. I am back home on Tuesday so will be back to normal blogging then and starting my dissertation.

Love Laura

Thursday, 24 May 2012

Welsh Cob Carries The Olympic Torch

I have just seen this news story, a welsh cob is going to be carrying the Olympic torch this weekend! It is really close to where I am at university but I wont be able to go because of exams. He is a gorgeous horse, hope he behaves himself!

Love Laura

Sunday, 20 May 2012

GB Rider Profile; Piggy French

Piggy French is going to be this Sunday's GB Rider. In 2011 she achieved a personal best at Badminton and won the Olympic test event invitational competition and Greenwich Park with DHO Topper.

At a younger age, Piggy received a gold medal on the Young Rider Team squad and an individual fourth. She is from Norfolk and her Grandparents have been involved with horses for many years. Her mother also evented and produced horses.Piggy's real name is Georgina but she has been nicknamed Piggy from a young age!

She rides a number of horses including Jakata, Some Day Soon, Flying Machine and DHI Topper W.Piggy was selected to represent Great Britain at the European Championships and on her horse Jakata, won a bronze. She won a silver medal at the World Equestrian Games. In the British Eventing Rider Rankings, Piggy has ranked fourth place for the third year running. She is also our leading lady rider.

She also has a website which you can access here ->

I have got just over a week left of exams then I will be back to blogging properly!

Love Laura

Thursday, 10 May 2012

More Equestrian Olympic Tickets To Go On Sale

Just a quick post but I have seen that if you applied for Olympic tickets and didn't get them, there are more tickets coming on sale that you can apply for! The equestrian ones go on sale on the 15th of May and there are ones available for all different disciplines.

We have already been lucky enough to get tickets, out of the ones we applied for we got the most expensive ones, therefore if there are different priced tickets and you have enough money I would advise you apply for the more expensive ones. I applied for all cheap ones and didn't get any but my parents got some on their account applying for the better seats.

The link to the Horse & Hound website news story is below. I am unsure of any further details however!

Good luck if you're applying again!

Love Laura

Sunday, 6 May 2012

GB Rider Profile; Anne Dunham

Today's GB Rider Profile is going to be on Paralympic rider Anne Dunham. Anne was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis when she was 27. She has been around horses since a young age but it wasn't until she was 40 that she got her own horse and had the opportunity to compete. She is now 63 years old and was awarded an MBE in 2009.

In 2003 Anne was given the British Dressage Outstanding Contribution award for her services to Paralympic dressage. She has won 12 gold medals at World and European level. In the 2008 Beijing Olympics Anne won a team gold medal along with an individual gold and individual silver. In the 2011 European Championships she wont three gold medals. 

She has two good horses currently. One is Teddy and it has been said that together they epitomise the world "partnership". Anne is graded 1a, which is the most disabled group. The tests are ridden in walk and must be rhythmical, accurate and in complete harmony. 

Love Laura

Thursday, 3 May 2012

No Badminton This Year!

Badminton Horse Trials was due to take place this weekend and it has been cancelled due to all the wet weather we have been having. I used to enjoy going to watch Badminton before exams got in the way! Hopefully in the future I will go again! It is especially a shame it has been cancelled this year in the run up to the Olympics as it would have been a great trial run for the riders.

Here are some photographs I took from a trip to Badminton, I am not sure when this was though and they are not very good quality as they are taken on my old camera.

One of the best things about Badminton Horse Trials are the shops. The first time I heard about Joules was at a trip to Badminton Horse Trials in which everyone was wearing their polo tops. I bought a light pink one. Joules has become very popular now and is now available to buy on the high-street. Joules bring out a Badminton range every year and there are some nice items of clothing so I thought I would add them in! Two of the tops below are men's but I think that they could equally be worn by a woman.

Above are the Badminton women's bag;£19.99, Badminton girl's polo; £29.95, Badminton men's sweat; £69.95 and Men's Badminton rugby top; £69.95.

Also I have just seen on the Horse & Hound website they are doing a Badminton shopping bonanza with lots of offers so if you need to buy anything at the moment then go and have a look!

Love Laura
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