A cross-sectional survey was conducted to describe rider and horse demographics, and the feeding, health, and management of horses and ponies involved with Pony Clubs in New Zealand. An online survey collected information from members of the New Zealand Pony Clubs Association between 1st November 2012 and 31st January 2013. A total of 502 respondents completed the survey. Most riders were female (95%; 455/481) and were ≤16 years of age (74%; 357/481). Decisions on feeding and management of horses were rarely made by the rider alone (26%; 124/476). The rider’s parent or person responsible for the horse were often included in the decision-making, which occurred consistently across all age-groups ≤16 years (P<0.001). Over half (53%; 252/475) of the respondents’ families had more than 20 years of equine experience. On a scale of 1-9, the median body condition score (BCS) of the nominated Pony Club horses was six (interquartile range 5-6), and only 22% (98/446) of respondents indicated that their horse was overweight (BCS ≥7/9). More than 80% of horses were managed on pasture throughout the year, with 24-hour access to grazing each day. In addition to pasture, 82% (409/502) of respondents fed their horses a combination of commercially available equine feeds, including premixed feeds, cereals, and conserved forages. Overall, owners of Pony Club horses reported few health issues associated with their horse.
Proceedings of the New Zealand Society of Animal Production, Volume 74, Napier, 11-16, 2014
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