Second year Equine Behavioural Science students from Writtle University College enjoyed a trip to Tollesbury Wick Nature Reserve on Monday 4 February as part of their module on Measuring Behaviour and Welfare.
In this module students explore the use of observational sampling methods and available technology and software, such as heart rate monitors and infrared thermography, to objectively measure the behaviour and welfare of horses, which helps prepare them for their final year dissertation project.
For the trip, the students compared a range of behaviour observation sampling methods to collect data on the natural behaviours of these free-ranging ponies for their assignment.
The trip was organised by WUC’s Rosa Verwijs (Senior Lecturer in Equine Behaviour and Nutrition), and students were taken on a tour by Joan Pinch from Essex Wildlife Trust to see the 8 Exmoor pony geldings as part of their conservation grazing scheme.
Joan discussed the use of Exmoor ponies for conservation grazing, their typical behaviour patterns throughout the year on both this reserve and the Tiptree Heath reserve, where they are kept outside under natural conditions all year round.
Although the ponies are not handled by people, their curiosity overcame them and they came down to meet the group, allowing students on the trip to get up close and personal with the ponies to observe and record their behaviours. Despite it being very cold, wet and windy, the students were thrilled with their experience and the opportunity to see a free-ranging herd so nearby on the Essex marsh.
The BSc (Hons) in Equine Behavioural Science course is designed for students who wish to pursue a specialist interest in the field of equine behaviour. You will study specialist behaviour modules to improve your knowledge and understanding of the academic theory underpinning the natural behaviour of the horse, incorporating principles of ethology and psychology alongside health and welfare management.