Vet ‘first port of call for advice’

February 14th, 2012

Horse owners are most likely to use their vet to guide the choice of nutritional supplements they feed their animal, but also rely heavily on recommendations from other riders, a unique study has revealed.
Early findings from the research, being led by the University’s School of Veterinary Sciences, also found that joint and mobility and behaviour problems topped the list of owners’ concerns when seeking supplements.
Dr Sarah Freeman, Associate Professor and European Specialist in Large Animal Surgery, and study supervisor, said: “This collaborative study by vets and nutritionists is the first of its kind. It has given horse owners a voice on important issues, and the results will help vets, nutritionists and horse owners to work together to match needs for different horses.”
The study is being undertaken by two third-year veterinary students, Charlotte Agar and Rachael Gemmill, in collaboration with Dr Teresa Hollands at Dodson & Horrell Limited, a leading manufacturer of horse feeds, including nutritional supplements.
More than 800 horse owners took part in an online questionnaire for the survey, which was launched in September last year. The study was primarily aimed at dressage and eventing riders to look at which issues were of most concern to competition horse owners, what supplements they’d like to see available and the best ways of passing on information to them.
Initial results found that almost half of all owners (49.8%) rely on their vet for advice on supplements, followed by internet articles or reviews (39.4%). However, when asked specifically about their latest purchase of supplements, word of mouth and advice from other horse owners was identified as the most important source most frequently (18.5%).
Joint and mobility supplements were considered to be the most important, however, there were differences between the competitive disciplines, which is likely to be explained by the different demands of the individual sports.
Further research is needed. The next stage will involve interviewing individual owners.

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