Rogers, S., White, J., Busby, D. 2019. Introducing human behavior change for animals: a new approach to sustainable change for horses. Journal of Veterinary Behavior 29, 152. (13th International Society of Equitation Science (ISES) Conference Abstract)
The root cause of most welfare issues for horses is human behavior – people doing, or not doing, certain care, management or training practices. In addition, there is a gap between advancing scientific knowledge about equine welfare and the practical application of these findings by the people who own, train and care for horses. To make a sustainable difference to equine welfare, therefore, established evidence-based models and interventions to drive human behavior change should be applied. For example, the Behavior Change Wheel and COM-B (capability, opportunity, motivation – behavior) model are evidence-based tools created by University College London that can help the user understand, select and specify the target behavior, including what needs to change; the tools themselves help to identify and develop intervention functions and strategies, together with implementation options and behavior change techniques. The application of the evidence-based Behavior Change Wheel and learning from other fields, such as psychology, anthropology, behavioral economics, and many more in the equestrian sector could help to address the gap between the knowledge available from academia and the people who own and care for horses and help to deliver positive change. Some examples of models were reviewed through case studies where they have started to be applied to promote Equitation Science. Collaboration, communication and change will be key to sustainable change for horses.