Students' Research Circle    
 
 
2022
2021
2020
2019
2018
2017
2016
2015
2014
2013
2012
2011
The conference
» Veterinary Session
Veterinary Jury
Biology Session
Biology Jury
Sponsors
Awards-list
Application
2010
2009
2008
2007
2006
2005
2004
2003
2002
Home » Archive » 2011 » Veterinary Session

Veterinary session

Stress-coping ability of Hungarian police horses
Povázsai Ágnes - year 6
Szent István University Faculty of Veterinary Science Clinic for Large Animals
Supervisors: Dr Krisztina Nagy, Dr Rezső Kovács

Abstract:

In the last few years the occurrence of colic has increased dramatically in the population of Hungarian police horses. These horses are frequently exposed to fearful situations where great self-discipline is required (football-matches, demonstrations, national festival parade). To keep these horses accustomed to these conditions they have a special training regularly. If a horse fails to cope successfully with the stressors in its life, chronic stress can develop which can increase the odds of getting certain diseases and colic as well. The aim of this study was to assess objectively the stress-coping ability of Hungarian police horses.

I had the opportunity to visit one of the special trainings in October 2010, where horses had to stand still during gun shoots and walk through coloured smoke several times. Stress coping ability of 14 horses was measured by using non-invasive methods. On the day of the special training (plus a day before and after) heart rate and heart rate variability data were collected by using Polar Equine heart rate monitors and the changes of salivary cortisol concentration was also measured. For analysis, horses were divided into two groups according to the presence or absence of fearful reactions during the special training.

Salivary cortisol concentration of the examined horses did not increase relevantly on the day of the special training. Interestingly, horses that seemed to be quiet and calm during the presence of the stressful stimuli failed to show a decrease in the vagal tone, had higher heart rate and lower heart-rate variability compared to those horses that were nervous and showed fearful reactions.

Police horses are well trained which can suggest that some of them may learn to block their natural behavioural reactions and still feel fearfulness inside. These horses are at greater risk for developing chronic stress which may result a decreased ability to cope with everyday stressors. However, further studies are needed to differentiate whether the loss of behavioural reaction is due to calmness or chronic stress.



List of lectures