Long, M., Dürnberger, C., Jenner, F. et al. 2022. Quality of life within horse welfare assessment tools: Informing decisions for chronically ill and geriatric horses. Animals 12(14), 1822.
Equine Quality of Life (QoL) is an important concern in decision making in veterinary medicine and is especially relevant for chronically ill or geriatric horses towards the end of their lives. To our knowledge, there is no currently available QoL assessment tool for chronically ill or geriatric horses that assesses equine QoL defined as the horse’s evaluation of their life. However, tools exist to assess equine welfare in different contexts. Hence, the aims of this study were to analyse how equine welfare, QoL, well-being and happiness assessment tools label, define and operationalise the concepts and to discuss the tools’ suitability to assess equine QoL in the context of end-of-life decisions for chronically ill or geriatric horses. Fourteen articles were found through a systematic literature search, describing ten equine welfare assessment tools and one approach to integrating equine QoL in veterinary practice that suggests QoL assessment parameters. We discuss that some welfare assessment tools have the potential to support the development of a QoL assessment tool informing decisions towards the end of horses’ lives if they are adjusted to focus on the horses’ experiences, to provide an integration into an overall QoL grade and are tailored to chronically ill or geriatric horses.