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THE PROBLEM:  At some sport events, horses may live in exhibition centers that are mainly designed to meet people's needs, but these venues might not be adequate for the horses' needs. Factors like too much noise, building temperatures, very bright lights that often stay on for too long, visitors, unfamiliar smells, and proximity to unfamiliar horses could make horses feel stressed. Changes in the horses’ daily routines, including resting, feeding and training times, complicate the situation. Little information is available on how these changing conditions affect the well-being of these horses.  

THE PROJECT The team will also explore potential correlations with the horses' personalities to discern potential individual differences in how horses adapt to management changes. Together, this new information will help researchers better understand how living in exhibition centers, with added stress factors, affects how sport horses sleep and feel. This study is the first step in trying to improve the conditions for these amazing animals when they are in competition spaces. 

POTENTIAL IMPACT: This study aims to advance the scientific understanding of equine athlete welfare as it relates to everchanging environmental factors in housing for these animals, such as lighting and sound, and their effects on the horses’ physiological and psychological health. Findings will inform continuing research to enhance equine welfare and inform industry practices to help optimize living conditions for horses at exhibition centers. 

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University of Milan
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Silvia Mazzola, DVM, PhD
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