In China, the first Przewalski's horse (Equus przewalskii) group was released in Kalamaili Ungulate Protected Area in Xinjiang, in August 2001. The objective of this study was to investigate reproduction and development of released Przewalski's horses in Xinjiang, China from 2002 to 2006. Twenty-four descendants were naturally born, average reproduction rate was 38.7%, and average survival rate of foals was 69.1% in this interim. Frequent alternation of the leading stallion and infertility in female horses due to environmental factors were main causes for the low reproduction rate. The infant mortality rate of released Przewalski's horses was 25.0%, and 83.3% of death in infants was due to the leading stallion infanticide. The released Przewalski's horses exhibited seasonal breeding, 70.8% of infants were born in May and June. The fertility rates were 8.3% in April and 37.5% in May, which were lower compared to those of the captive Przewalski's horse groups (18.3% and 44.3%, respectively). Furthermore, the fertility rate in June was 33.3% and higher than the captive groups (18.3%). These findings showed that the breeding peak of the released Przewalski's horse groups was later than the captive groups, and suggested that the altered survival environment and food supplies were the main reasons contributing to the delayed breeding peak.
To obtain basic knowledge about selecting horses for therapeutic riding, the influence of equine conformation on rider oscillation and relationships between these factors and the evaluation on horses as the therapeutic riding were studied. Thirty-five riding horses were used. Equine conformation was estimated by 24 indices. Rider oscillation was measured by an accelerometer fixed at the rider's waist. The spatial position of the oscillation was estimated by a double integration of the acceleration. Horses were evaluated for therapeutic riding by a Riding for the Disabled Association instructor as a rider. Evaluations were on a scale of 1 to 5, with 5 being the highest score for 27 items. Horses were classified into 4 groups: the short and narrow (SN), short and wide (SW), tall and narrow (TN), and tall and wide (TW). The frequencies of rider oscillation both at walk and trot were higher (P<0.01), and the vertical (P<0.01) and longitudinal (P<0.05) amplitudes at trot were smaller, on short horses than on tall horses. The vertical amplitude at walk was smaller (P<0.05) and the lateral amplitude at trot was larger (P<0.01) on wide horses than on narrow horses. Short horses could be used for the rider who requires side walkers. Wide horses could be used for relieving muscular tension and for the rider who could not maintain good balance on the horse. Short and wide horses should be suitable for therapeutic riding.
Flight and avoidance reactions from human were examined using 168 postweaning Thoroughbred foals in 22 breeding farms. Further 114 yearlings of 168 foals were tested in the following summer. The foal handlings by the stabler were asked in questionnaire. The relationship between the behavioural reactions and the foal handling frequencies was analyzed. The flight reaction was estimated as the distance from the animal to a stranger when the animal began to flight away from his approach. The avoidance scores were set up from (1) (not resistant) to (5) (touch rejection) from human touching. In the stabler questionnaire, handling frequencies of "body brushing", "rectal temperature measurement", "hoof cleaning", and "stall cleaning" in the early nursing period were asked. The handling frequencies were scored from (1) (not done) to (5) (every day). In the preliminary test, a measurement reliability of the flight distance and the avoidance score was confirmed. The mean flight distances were 0.56 m and 0.27 m in the postweaning foals and the yearlings, respectively. Touch-avoidance scores of the highest frequency were (3) and (2) in the postweaning foals and the yearlings, respectively. As the results of Spearman's rank-correlation analysis, "body brushing" showed highly negative relationships with "flight distance" (ρ=-0.31, P<0.001) and "avoidance score" (ρ=-0.37, P<0.001) in the postweaning foals. In the yearlings, "hoof cleaning" also showed significantly negative relationships with these behavioural indices (ρ=-0.24, P<0.01; ρ=-0.22, P<0.01, respectively).