Horse and pony owners invited to take part in major equine study

23 January 2015

A major new study is underway to try to understand the emotional challenges faced by owners and carers of horses, ponies and donkeys when the animals are near the end of their life.

The study aims to gather a more in-depth awareness of attitudes towards equine euthanasia and end of life options. The findings will support charities and organisations develop much needed services to help people when such difficult decisions need to be made.

Dr Britta Osthaus, from the School of Psychology, Politics and Sociology at Canterbury Christ Church University, said: “Every animal owner dreads it when the time has come to make the decision to put an animal to sleep. Many factors play an important role, such as judging the quality of life of the animal, the huge gap its death will leave and the immense responsibility of deciding to end a life. Sometimes the indecision of the owner, whatever the kind intentions, might even cause avoidable suffering.

“This new study will explore how social, emotional and rational thoughts influence owners’ decisions, with the aim of providing some much needed help and advice when the time comes.”

Jointly funded by World Horse Welfare and the Donkey Sanctuary, 32 students from 15 different establishments will follow a carefully crafted study design. The study is co-ordinated by Advancing Equine Scientific Excellence (AESE), which is a committee of the British Equestrian Federation (BEF).

The data, collected using interviews and focus groups, will be analysed by expert epidemiologists and will provide the funders with a wealth of information on this important topic.

Canterbury Christ Church University is seeking horse and pony owners, past or present, with or without experience of euthanasia, to contribute to the research. If you would like to take part in the study please contact Dr Britta Osthaus: britta.osthaus@canterbury.ac.uk. Interviews will need to be conducted face-to-face.

Notes to Editor

For more information on the partners involved visit:

Participating establishments include: Askham Bryan College, Bicton College, Bishop Burton College, Canterbury Christ Church University in conjunction with the University of Sussex, Duchy College, Hadlow College, Harper Adams University, Hartpury College, Myerscough College, Plumpton College, Reaseheath College, Royal Agricultural University, Sparsholt College, University of Plymouth and Writtle College.

Canterbury Christ Church University is a modern university with a particular strength in higher education for the public services.

With nearly 20,000 students across Kent and Medway, its courses span a wide range of academic and professional subject areas.

  • 93% of our most recent UK graduates were in employment or further studies six months after completing their studies*.
  • We are the number one choice for local people looking to study at university in Kent (2013 UCAS).
  • We are one of the South East’s largest providers of education, training and skills leading to public service careers.

*2012/13 Destination of Leavers from Higher Education survey

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Last edited: 05/12/2017 04:25:00