Turkish Journal of Veterinary & Animal Sciences




The aim of this study was to evaluate the saliva cortisol levelsof recreational horses dependent on the type of horse activity. A total of 68 horses were included in the experiment and divided into groups according to recreational activity, type of horse, age, term of saliva collection, and sex. Saliva samples were obtained from each horse at 3 measurement points: in the morning (6 a.m.), in the evening (6 p.m.), and immediately after work. The overall analysis shows that the term of sample collection, recreational activity, and age influence cortisol concentration. The diurnal concentration of saliva cortisol does not differ between the types of horses and between mares and geldings. However, the concentration of cortisol in saliva after recreational riding differs significantly in comparison to the morning and evening levels. The analysis showed that age differentiates the saliva cortisol level significantly in young horses (3-5 years old). In all groups, exercise increased the level of cortisol. Horses performing dressage were characterized by the highest level of cortisol. Driving and lunging exercises resulted in a significant increase in the cortisol concentration after work. The lowest level of cortisol was obtained in horses used in reining.


Horse, recreational exploitation, stress, cortisol

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