Insights into the impacts Facebook can have on management decisions for (recreational) sport horses in New Zealand

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Mann, Steph
Author ORCID Profiles (clickable)
Master of Professional Practice
Otago Polytechnic
Kirkwood, Jo
Donnelly, Cushla
Masters Thesis
Ngā Upoko Tukutuku (Māori subject headings)
New Zealand
horse husbandry
horse trainers
decision making
social media
well being
equine professionals
Mann, S. (2021). Insights into the impacts Facebook can have on management decisions for (recreational) sport horses in New Zealand. (Unpublished document submitted in partial fulfilment of the requirements for the degree of Master of Professional Practice). Otago Polytechnic, New Zealand.
The aims of this project are to firstly explore whether recreational horse owners in New Zealand are using equestrian-themed groups on Facebook to gain knowledge and advice on matters of horse husbandry rather than using more evidence-based methods, and secondly to gather insights about the impact this form of decision-making can have on horses. The research also explores reasons why professionals appear unable or unwilling to interact or respond to posts seeking or giving advice and replies to posts, even when the advice given is inappropriate to the situation, inaccurate, incomplete, and therefore compromises the welfare of the horse through poor decision making by owners. The ramifications of interacting or ignoring Facebook posts and advice given in equine-themed Facebook groups that the professionals have been tagged in, or that they come across in their personal Facebook dealings is examined as well. The significance of this study is that it highlights the effect on the management of horses, and on equine professionals that casual advice given on Facebook has. Previously published theory on New Zealand Facebook users and their motivation neglects to address advice sought for animals and particularly horses. This report demonstrates to what extent and in what circumstances Facebook users in New Zealand equestrian-themed groups are likely to ask for or give advice by inviting group members to complete an anonymous online survey. 160 people replied to the invitation to take part in the anonymous survey and data from 156 valid responses was analysed. The results are then discussed in a series of interviews with a range of equine professionals from around New Zealand. The mixed methods approach used in this project allowed me to firstly canvas a broad number of New Zealand horse owners on Facebook quantitively, and then to develop auto ethnographical learning through collegial discussion in the interview section.
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