Kelly, K. J., McDuffee, L. A., Mears, K. 2021. The effect of human–horse interactions on equine behaviour, physiology, and welfare: A scoping review. Animals 11(10), 2782.
Human–horse interactions (HHIs) are diverse and prominent in the equine industry. Stakeholders have an invested interest in making sure that HHIs are humane. Assessment of equine welfare goes beyond physical health and includes assessment of the emotional state of the animal. HHIs can have a permanent effect on human–horse relationships, thereby influencing welfare. Therefore, an understanding of the horse’s affective state during HHIs is necessary. A scoping review was conducted to: (1) map current practices related to the measurement of HHIs; (2) explore the known effects of HHIs on horse behaviour and physiology; and (3) clarify the connection between HHIs and equine welfare. A total of 45 articles were included in this review. Studies that used both physiological and behavioural measures of equine response to human interactions accounted for 42% of the included studies. A further 31% exclusively used physiological measures and 27% used behavioural observation. Current evidence of equine welfare during HHIs is minimal and largely based on the absence of a negative affective state during imposed interactions. Broadening the scope of methods to evaluate a positive affective state and standardization of methodology to assess these states would improve the overall understanding of the horse’s welfare during HHIs.