Green matting could provide a key to easier trailer loading for young horses, according to award-winning research carried out by an equine sports-science student.
“By making the trailer environment as inviting as possible, you minimise the risk of problems arising in the first place,” says Hannah Haskew, who graduated from Nottingham Trent University this summer.
She discovered in her thesis — which won the Eqvalan Thesis of the Year Award — that horses preferred stepping on to a green surface than a black, grey or red one.
“I timed horses walking over the different colours (they walked by themselves down an alleyway over different, spray-painted mats), and gave each a ‘behaviour’ score, laying the matting on the ground as well as on a trailer ramp,” explains Hannah, who is a BHSAI.
She performed the tests several times on eight horses who travelled regularly, and eight youngsters who had loaded less than five times.
“Black gave the worst reaction and green the best,” says Hannah. “Surprisingly, the experienced horses had the same pattern of preference as the young ones — I thought that they might prefer the black as they were used to it, but this wasn’t the case.”
Vet Karen Coumbe, who was on the panel of judges, says: “It was a well thought- out piece of work with reasonable practical application.”
Hannah received £500 from sponsor Merial Equine Health. She was among five students short-listed from 15 entries from colleges across the UK and Eire who presented their theses at Stoneleigh on 1 November.
To read about the other finalists, see today’s issue of Horse & Hound (13 November)