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Is safety valued in the Australian pony market?

Hawson, L.A., Oddie, C., McLean, A.N., McGreevy, P.D., 2011. Is safety valued in the Australian pony market? Journal of Veterinary Behavior: Clinical Applications and Research. 6 (5), 254-260.


The importance that vendors attribute to safety when selling a horse may be estimated by examining the relationship between the use of positive and negative descriptive terms associated with horse safety and the advertised price of recreational riding horses. In this study, we gathered data for non-Thoroughbred horses from 524 advertisements on price, safety, and warning descriptors and other characteristics including age, height, sex, color, breed, registration, and experience to investigate variates associated with pricing in the Australian adult riding horse market. We did this by examining the Allrounders and Adult Riding Club sections in 6 consecutive 2009 editions of the leading Australian horse-trading magazine Horse Deals. From these, we identified 67 descriptive terms and phrases that vendors used to describe their horses and assigned them to 4 categories based on the extent to which they communicated a behavioral or biological characteristic of the animal relevant to rider/handler safety. Three of these categories reflected degrees of perceived positive assurance, and the fourth contained covert warning (negative) descriptors. Linear regression analysis of log (price) revealed that variates such as a larger total sum of performance experience and bigger advertisements (P < 0.001), breed registration (P = 0.03), and sex stated as gelding (P = 0.006) all significantly increased the price set by vendors. The inclusion of covert warning descriptors had a detrimental influence on price (P = 0.007). The inclusion of positive descriptive terms associated with safety had a rather smaller and less significant effect (P < 0.023) on price. Overall, these findings highlight the need for further exploration of the attitudes and beliefs that vendors, purchasers, and recreational riders, in general, place on safety.