“The purpose of the project is to describe, analyse and to compare how children and youths with different cultural backgrounds communicate with horses,” the researchers at Chalmers and Gothenburg universities stated in their application for ethical approval submitted to the Swedish Board of Agriculture (Jordbruksverket).
The project is to be conducted within the framework of operations at the Gothenburg Disabled Riding Club and will analyse the behaviour of the children aged 10-18-years-old and is hoped to contribute to learning about horse-aided therapy.
The researchers plan to film the interaction between the children and the horses, and study cultural aspects of their interaction, such as languages spoken, values with regards to animals. They will then identify issues to address for those conducting therapy on children of varying ethnic and cultural backgrounds.
“The project intends to contribute to knowledge about human-horse interactions within horse-aided therapy and in activities which raise the quality of life of participants, such as recreational riding for people with temporary or permanently reduced functional capacity or participation in society,” the researchers stated.
Horses are a common resource used within therapy and the researchers observed that their beneficial effects are well-documented. Research into how the animals are affected in various care situations is not as broad however, and is thus cited as a reason for the study.
The study will be carried out as a partnership between linguists and language researchers from Gothenburg University and Chalmers, and ethologists from the Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences.
Swedish Ethical Committee on Animal Research (Djurförsöksetiska nämnden) has approved the research.