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Title: The functional significance of stereotypies in the stabled horse
Author: McGreevy, Paul
ISNI:       0000 0001 1499 8447
Awarding Body: University of Bristol
Current Institution: University of Bristol
Date of Award: 1995
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Surveys were conducted to determine the prevalence of weaving, cribbiting/ wind-sucking, box-walking and wood-chewing in Thoroughbred racehorses and performance horses. Logistic regression analysis showed that increases in the prevalence of abnormal behaviour on Flat and National Hunt training yards were associated with feeding small amounts of forage, the use of bedding types other than straw and box designs that limited contact between neighbouring horses. Increased prevalence of abnormal behaviour among eventing and dressage horses was positively correlated with time spent in the stable. Videofluoroscopic and endoscopic studies, conducted on crib-biting horses, showed that deglutition was not involved in this behaviour and that air distending the cranial oesophagus did not elicit peristalsis. Behaviour and nutritional studies showed that unthriftiness in crib-biters may occur, if planes of nutrition are critical, because these horses expend energy performing the behaviour while spending less time resting and nourishing themselves. Crib-biting showed a post-inhibitory rebound suggesting that an internal motivation to crib-bite rises during periods of deprivation. This suggests that mechanical or surgical attempts to prevent crib-biting may compromise the welfare of stereotypic horses. The adaptation of two techniques from human gatro-enterology (radiopaque markers and sulphapyridine uptake) identified physiological differences associated with crib-biting including diet-dependent changes in total gut and foregut transit times. Gut motility was also affected by the short term deprivation of eating and crib-biting together. The behavioural and physiological consequences associated with depriving horses of crib-biting were also assessed using heart rate monitors, behavioural sampling and plasma levels of cortisol and beta-endorphins. Although crib-biting did not affect circulating beta-endorphin levels, elevated plasma cortisol levels were found when crib-biting and eating were prevented. It is suggested that crib-biters are more stress-susceptible than normal horses because their cortisol levels were elevated before and during short periods without food and crib-biting substrates.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: Veterinary sciences & veterinary medicine