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An analysis of conformation and performance variables in potential three day event horses in Ireland

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dc.contributor.advisor Arkins, Sean Morscher, Soraya 2011-12-01T15:51:20Z 2011-12-01T15:51:20Z 2010
dc.description peer-reviewed en_US
dc.description.abstract Eventing is the ultimate test of speed, endurance, obedience and athleticism and the importance of such qualities in horses date back to cavalry times where such attributes were deciding factors in wars. The Irish Sport Horse is the leading studbook for eventing for the last 15 years (WBFSH, 2009). In order to keep the Irish Sport Horse at the top of this sport, talented animals have to be identified early. To identify elite horses early, studbooks all over the world employ conformation assessment as an indicator for pre-selection and suitability. Since the new format of eventing was introduced, opinions on what type of horse is suitable for the sport are divided. Currently in Ireland, selection of young event horses is not carried out by any of the studbooks. The Future Event Horse League (FEHL) offers owners of potential event horses a competition to test their abilities. The league is run in a different format to eventing, and as part of the competitions, judges score the potential of the horse for this particular sport. One objective of this study was to analyse selection methods for young event horses in Ireland. Data from competitions of FEHL were analysed in order to evaluate conformation and suitability of the horses that took part and the consistency of the judges scoring. An additional aim was to provide an overview of the conformation of horses produced for eventing in Ireland. For this purpose, 2 years of conformation evaluation on horses competing in the FEHL was carried out. The last part of the study focused on the requirements of conformation and the type of horse suitable for the new short format of competition. Interviews with riders competing at Four Star level (highest level of competition event riders can progress to) were carried out. FEHL competitions consist of four phases. Three of four phases aim to assess the suitability and potential of a horse for elite level. These are the Suitability and Potential of the Ridden Display to indicate future performance in dressage, the Suitability and Potential of Conformation and Movement and the Suitability and Potential of Jumping. The fourth phase the Ridden Display consists of a ridden test similar to a dressage test. Intraclass Correlation Coefficient values demonstrated fair to almost perfect agreement amongst judges for the quality of horse in each phase of competition (p < 0.05), ranging from 0.370 to 0.952. Suitability and potential average scores the horses were awarded, failed to show significant differences between first and last qualifiers attended (p > 0.05). Ridden Display scores improved from the first to the last qualifier. The 5 year old age group scored higher average scores in every phase compared to 4-year-old horses (p < 0.05). Mares scored significantly lower in two of the four phases than geldings (p < 0.05). Analysis of variance between years showed that horses in 2008 scored significantly lower in Suitability and Potential of Conformation and Jumping compared to the four previous years (p< 0.05). Temperament was the most important selection criteria for event horses among elite riders. Irish Sport Horse crossbred with thoroughbred was considered the most suitable breed combination. The descriptive approach to conformation evaluation in this study highlighted a relatively high prevalence of some unfavourable conformation traits for eventing such as: straight shoulders, back-at-the-knee conformation, sickle hock conformation, long back conformation, weak loin area, rectangular structure and lack of impulsion in the trot. Based on interviews with competitors, it is apparent that selection criteria for event horses should be distinct from those used in the selection of showjumping horses en_US
dc.language.iso eng en_US
dc.publisher University of Limerick en_US
dc.subject Ireland en_US
dc.subject horses en_US
dc.subject athleticism en_US
dc.subject performance en_US
dc.title An analysis of conformation and performance variables in potential three day event horses in Ireland en_US
dc.type info:eu-repo/semantics/masterThesis en_US
dc.type.supercollection all_ul_research en_US
dc.type.supercollection ul_published_reviewed en_US
dc.type.supercollection ul_theses_dissertations en_US
dc.type.restriction none en

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