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Equine Practice
A new perspective on stereotypic behaviour problems in horses
  1. Debbie Marsden

    Debbie Marsden graduated in 1984 from Edinburgh with a BSc in physiology and genetics and holds a PhD for studies on the role of environment and management in animal behaviour problems. A fellow of the Royal (Dick) School of Veterinary Studies for many years, she now runs MDM Equestrian, a referral clinic based near Edinburgh, which offers a specialist secondopinion service to veterinary surgeons throughout the UK on the causation and treatment of equine behaviour problems.


THERE is probably more misinformation about stereotypic behaviour, colloquially known as 'stable vices', in horses than on any other aspect of equine behaviour. Owner concerns are sometimes misplaced and some 'treatments' which may be attempted can be extremely detrimental to the welfare of the animal and serve only to exacerbate the problem. Conversely, certain behaviour patterns, which should alert both owners and veterinary surgeons to potentially serious clinical problems, may be overlooked, thereby delaying diagnosis and treatment. This article summarises a decade of scientific research on stereotypies, highlighting findings of practical benefit to veterinary surgeons and their clients.

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