Meet AWP collaborator Dr. Katia Atoji Henrique – National horse day

In honour of National Horse Day on December 13th, we would like to introduce you to an Animal Welfare Program (AWP) collaborator, Dr. Katia Atoji Henrique, whose research includes the health and welfare of our equine companions.  Katia is a professor in the Animal Science Program at the Federal University of Technology in Prana, Brazil (Universidade Tecnológica Federal do Paraná – UTFPR).  She spent an unusual sabbatical year with the AWP, arriving just before the onset of the Covid-19 pandemic and the near shut down of international travel. Learn about her research with horses and her year with the AWP below!

My research on horses has been focused on physiology (mostly physiology of exercise), nutrition and bio-morphometry, but horse welfare has always been a passion of mine and of many owners, breeders, and others who care for horses. I began my first studies on the welfare of therapy horses by asking questions around how these horses were kept and managed by the therapy clinics in the Southwest region of Parana. After this research, I realized that there was much work to be done on horse welfare, leading to my current focus on animal welfare.

I came to Vancouver to work with the Animal Welfare Program from March 2020 to June 2021 because of their international reputation and the opportunity to engage in hands on research at UBC.  However, because of the COVID-19 pandemic, only my first week at UBC was in person – thereafter the campus closed to most activities and I transitioned to remote work. Instead of a hands o project I now needed something well suited to remote work, but still having the potential for me to learn more about horse welfare and to help horses and the people who care for them. As I was already reading many papers on horse welfare, and much work at the AWP has focused on better housing conditions for other species can improve their welfare, I decided to collaborate with Dan Weary to work on a literature review entitled “Assessing the impact of housing on the welfare of horses”. Our aim is to describe the different approaches taken by researchers in investigating horse welfare related to housing conditions. The protocol of this scoping review is available in the UBC – Open Collections.

Despite not being able to engage in person activities within the AWP, I still became an active member of this group, attending every virtual activity available, as well as participating in online courses and workshops that gave me an excellent (virtual) experience. I also attended (and continue to attend!) the weekly AWP meeting, which gives me an ongoing opportunity to interact with Program members, discuss important topics and learn – I hope that I will soon be able to come back to UBC to attend in person activities.

I also hope that my research will bring awareness to the importance of welfare in equine husbandry and that it contributes to improving the quality of life of horses, in particular the lives of working horses.

I would like to emphasize how happy I was to be part of AWP and grateful for all the support during my visit. I look forward to future collaborations – hopefully in person!

Would you like to connect with Katia? You can find her here:

Research Gate