How safe are headcollars? Latest research published by Dr David Marlin, Dr Jane Williams and Dr Kirstie Pickles


How safe are headcollars? Latest research published!  

Anecdotally, injuries to horses wearing headcollars either when tied-up or when turned out seem to
be common, but perhaps surprisingly there has been very little research on this topic. Dr Jane
Williams (Hartpury University), Dr Kirstie Pickles (Nottingham University Veterinary School) and
myself set out to try and gain more insight into the risks posed to horses and owners by headcollars
and whether some types were associated with more injuries than others.

We received 5615 responses and 31% reported experience of a horse being injured whilst 15% of
incidents involved injury to people. A total of 134 incidents involving headcollars resulted in
fractures to horses and 167 equine fatalities were reported.

Key Findings:

  • Using a headcollar during mucking out increased the risk of injury to horses
  • Using a leather or synthetic safety headcollar reduced the risk of injury to horses
  • Using a headcollar during travelling reduced the risk of injury to horses
  • There is a need for more education in choice and use of headcollars to reduce injuries to horses and

So where does this lead us?

Our second paper which tested the breaking or opening force of different standard commercial
headcollars, safety commercial headcollars and safety devices, including baler twine, is due to be
published shortly.

You can read the full paper for free: An online survey of equestrian headcollar use and safety – Marlin –  Equine Veterinary Education – Wiley Online Library

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About Author

Dr David Marlin is a physiologist and biochemist who has worked in academia, research and professional sport. He has worked in the equestrian and veterinary world and in human sport, healthcare, medicine and exercise science. In 1989 David obtained his PhD from the UK’s leading sports university, Loughborough University following a four-year study on the responses of Thoroughbred racehorses to exercise and training, undertaken at the renowned Animal Health Trust in Newmarket. You can read David's full biography in the Our Website section.