Examining the Heart-Rate Variability of Horses in Equine-Assisted Therapy
PublisherThe University of Arizona.
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AbstractThe purpose of this study was to monitor the heart-rate variabilities of humans and horses; specifically, these individuals were diagnosed with depression and/or anxiety, and interacted with the horse using, "heart focused breathing". The primary focus for measuring the equine heart rate variability (HRV) was to assess whether the horse found this process stressful or relaxing. A secondary focus was to identify what behaviors indicated that the horse was showing an interest in the person, and whether these behaviors were accompanied by HRV increases in the horse and human. The experimental design focused on at least three sessions of measuring both the horse and subject's HRV before, during, and after the interaction. The Polar Equine monitor was positioned around the horse's chest and data recorded for 5 minutes before and after the interaction and 8 minutes during the interaction. The average root mean square of successive differences (RMSSD) data overall showed a significant increase for both horses when they were interacting with the subjects, indicating that the horses experienced relaxation.
Degree ProgramHonors College