Hilary Webb

School of Veterinary Science
College of Sciences


Thesis Title
The training and management of FEI level endurance horses in New Zealand

Research Description
The training and management of FEI level endurance horses in New Zealand Endurance riding is a test of a rider's ability to manage their horse's stamina over a natural course that can be as long as 80-160 km in one day. Despite mandatory veterinary supervision during rides to eliminate horses that are unfit to continue, there is the potential for poor outcomes for horses (including injury and death) if horses are not adequately trained and judiciously ridden. Trainers and training methods have been implicated as a reason for increased risk of elimination, injury and catastrophic injuries in international and elite level endurance but there is no research to confirm the link. Furthermore, there is almost no research that might contribute to an understanding of the trainers' and riders' roles in ensuring that horse welfare is protected in the balance between competitiveness and regard for demands of training and competition on their mount. This PhD aims to describe the training and management of endurance horses in New Zealand, using a four phase mixed method research design that combines a quantitative description of training (including workload), equitation and management practice, with a qualitative exploration of riders' motivations, perspectives and experiences. Data was collected over the 2016-17 endurance season and is currently being analysed.

Research Importance
An improved understanding of training is important to horses, riders and administrators in endurance because outside New Zealand, horse welfare is being compromised by the drive for maximal performance. This has created a strong interest in any research that contributes to science-based training programmes with potentially improved outcomes for horses.

Research Benefit
I hope that worldwide, endurance horses and riders will benefit from a science-based approach to training that enables a balance between the drive for optimal performance and protecting horse welfare. I hope that a better understanding of trainers and riders contributes to ethical and sustainable use of horses in endurance.

Personal Description
Although I live about an hour away from Turitea campus in Palmerston North, Massey is my local University. I have already completed two post-graduate qualifications as an extramural student so I know that distance study with Massey works well for me in my pursuit of lifelong learning :-). I appreciate the support that enables me to live and work off campus and thus balance the demands of raising a teenage family with my study. A doctoral scholarship is a significant part of this support (for which I am extremely grateful), as is the professional development support for doctoral students.

Associate Professor Chris Rogers
Associate Professor Liz Norman
Associate Professor Jenny Weston
Associate Professor Naomi Cogger

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