Recognition of pain in horses and other animals is important from a medical, ethical and welfare point of view. Therefore, we work with development and evaluation of systematic methods to identify varying levels of equine pain, preferably such that can used also by horse people. One of the most promising indicators for equine pain are subtle changes in facial expressions, the “pain face,” which can be used as part of other pain behavioural or composite pain scales.
The SLU HiP team is led by Pia Haubro Andersen, Professor of Large Animal Surgery, Marie Rhodin, Senior Lecturer and DipACVSMR, as well as postdoctorate equine researcher Elin Hernlund. Katrina Ask is the SLU HiP doctoral student. Other key members in Scandinavia are professor Hedvig Kjellström, Professor and Head of the Department of Robotics, Perception, and Learning at KTH and her KTH doctoral student Sofia Broomé, as well as Karina Bech Gleerup in Copenhagen who was the key person to develop the Equine Pain Face tool.
We are working on a large range of projects with a number of international collaborators in Europe as well as the US. Our projects range from developing a fully automated machine learning system for recognition of pain in horses to developing new algorithms to detect lowgrade lameness in walk as well as investigating the possible connection between asymmetry and orthopedic pain.
Finally, we give lectures, seminars, workshops and are currently creating online learning modules to complement our blog. Our target audience includes not only veterinarians and certified veterinary technicians but also horse people on all levels, including owners, breeders, trainers, stable personnel, as well as racehorse and pharmaceutical industries.