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A two-year participatory intervention project with owners to reduce lameness and limb abnormalities in working horses in Jaipur, India

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere0124342
JournalPLoS ONE
Volume10
Issue number4
DOIs
DatePublished - 21 Apr 2015

Abstract

Background: Participatory methods are increasingly used in international human development, but scientific evaluation of their efficacy versus a control group is rare. Working horses support families in impoverished communities. Lameness and limb abnormalities are highly prevalent in these animals and a cause for welfare concern. We aimed to stimulate and evaluate improvements in lameness and limb abnormalities in horses whose owners took part in a 2-year participatory intervention project to reduce lameness (PI) versus a control group (C) in Jaipur, India. Methodology/Principal Findings: In total, 439 owners of 862 horses participated in the study. PI group owners from 21 communities were encouraged to meet regularly to discuss management and work practices influencing lameness and poor welfare and to track their own progress in improving these. Lameness examinations (41 parameters) were conducted at the start of the study (Baseline), and after 1 year and 2 years. Results were compared with control horses from a further 21 communities outside the intervention. Of the 149 horses assessed on all three occasions, PI horses showed significantly (P<0.05) greater improvement than C horses in 20 parameters, most notably overall lameness score, measures of sole pain and range of movement on limb flexion. Control horses showed slight but significantly greater improvements in four parameters, including frog quality in fore and hindlimbs. Conclusions/Significance: This participatory intervention succeeded in improving lameness and some limb abnormalities in working horses, by encouraging changes in management and work practices which were feasible within owners' socioeconomic and environmental constraints. Demonstration of the potentially sustainable improvements achieved here should encourage further development of participatory intervention approaches to benefit humans and animals in other contexts.

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