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Rosa Verwijs

Senior Lecturer in Equine Behaviour and Nutrition
Faculty:
Faculty of Science and Engineering
School:
Writtle School of Agriculture, Animal and Environmental Sciences
Location:
Writtle
Research Supervision:
Yes

Rosa is a behaviourist, interested in all aspects of equine behaviour and welfare, with a particular focus on encouraging more ethical handling, management and training methods to promote better welfare and the opportunity for horses to thrive in their environments.

[email protected]

Background

Rosa joined the Equine department at Writtle in August 2009, and went on to manage the equine undergraduate portfolio between 2014 and 2019. Rosa has also worked in further education, and has over 20 years of experience working with horses.

She completed an undergraduate degree in Equine Science, specialising in social behaviour dynamics in weanling horses for her final-year project. She went on to complete a Masters degree in Equine Science, investigating the use of an extinction-learning paradigm to measure equine stereotypic perseveration. Since completing her degrees, Rosa has also worked on behaviour modification and training with horses and is a certified equine behaviour consultant, consulting for both horse owners and equine organisations such as the British Horse Society and World Horse Welfare.

Research interests
  • Equine cognition and learning
  • Equine behaviour modification
  • Ethical management and training of horses
  • Equine nutrition in relation to behaviour
  • Equine welfare management
Areas of research supervision
  • Equine cognition and learning
  • Equine behaviour modification
  • Ethical management and training of horses
  • Equine nutrition in relation to behaviour
  • Equine welfare management
Teaching
Qualifications
  • Certified Equine Behaviour Consultant, International Association of Animal Behavior Consultants
  • Accredited Animal Behaviourist, Animal Behaviour and Training Council
  • PG Certificate in Higher Education Practice, University of Essex
  • MSc Equine Science, University of Essex
  • BSc (Hons) Equine Science, University of Essex
Memberships, editorial boards
  • Fellow, Advance HE
  • Co-chair, ABTC Equine Working Group
  • ABTC Representative, British Horse Society Equine Health and Welfare Advisory Group
  • ABTC Representative, National Equine Welfare Council Communications and Advocacy Group
  • Understand Horses Representative, National Equine Welfare Council Research and Education Group
Research grants, consultancy, knowledge exchange

Consultancy

  • Consultant on behaviour and welfare content for the British Horse Society and World Horse Welfare (both registered charities)
  • Consulted for Arrow Media for a programme being developed for National Geographic
Selected recent publications

Verwijs, R., 2024. The horse's behavioural and welfare needs for optimal foraging opportunities. UK-Vet Equine, 8(1), pp 26-34. https://doi.org/10.12968/ukve.2024.8.1.26

Recent presentations and conferences

Dede, T. & Verwijs, R., 2023. Evaluating the effect of reinforcer valence on equine response rate of an operant task with respect to interspecies social bonding.  Proceedings of the 12th Alltech-Hartpury Conference, Hartpury University, Gloucester, UK, 10 May 2023, 42.

Nash, J.E., Lancaster, B., Slater, L. Verwijs, R. and Ellis, A.D., 2022. Effect of environment on nocturnal time budgets in domesticated horses. Proceedings of the  European Workshop on Equine Nutrition, 23-25 August.

Nash, J.E., Lancaster, B., Slater, L. Verwijs, R. and Ellis, A.D., 2022. Investigation into equine nocturnal behaviour between the field and stable. Proceedings of the 18th International Equitation Science Conference, 9-12 August. 119-120.

Osborn. S. and Verwijs. R., 2021. Co-operative care protocol using protected contact and positive reinforcement to facilitate simulated veterinary intra-muscular injections in horses. Proceedings of the 17th International Equitation Science Conference: Advancing Equestrian Practice to improve Equine Quality of Life (online), 20-21 October. 52.

Laurence, L. & Verwijs, R., 2021. Evaluation of the ability of horses to be trained using operant conditioning to discriminate a non-conspecific odour. Proceedings of the 10th Alltech-Hartpury Conference, Hartpury University, Gloucester, UK, 30 June - 1 July 2021 (online), 46.

Losonci, O. and Verwijs, R., 2021. Investigating the possible presence of learned helplessness in horses (Equus caballus). Proceedings of the 10th Alltech-Hartpury Conference, Hartpury University, Gloucester, UK, 30 June - 1 July 2021 (online), 83.

Spencer, K., Verwijs, R., and  Williams, J., 2019. Evaluation of whip use in British Showjumping. Proceedings of the 15th International Equitation Science Conference: Bringing Science to the Stable, August 19-21. Guelph, Ontario: University of Guelph, 46.

Campbell, A. and Verwijs, R., 2019. The effect of three types of head restraint on behaviour and pressure on horses. Proceedings of the 14th Annual UFAW Student Animal Welfare Conference, Moulton College, Northampton, UK, 1 May 2019.

Slater, L. and Verwijs, R., 2019. An investigation into two nocturnal housing environments and their effect on locomotion and social facilitation. Proceedings of the 14th Annual UFAW Student Animal Welfare Conference, Moulton College, Northampton, UK, 1 May 2019.

Cuthbert, C. and Verwijs, R., 2018. The effect of separation on equine behaviour, heart rate and heart rate variability whilst exercised on a horse walker, in S. McDonnell, B. Padalino and P. Baragli (eds.) ISES Proceedings of the 14th International Conference, Rome, 21-24 September 2018. Pisa: Pisa University Press, 33.

Braybrook, Z. and Verwijs, R., 2017. An investigation determining whether there is a relationship between different equine types and their reactivity to a novel startle test’. Proceedings of the Equine and Veterinary Physiotherapy Mini-Conference, Writtle University College, Essex, 26 April 2017, pp. 11.

Gohery, L. and Verwijs, R., 2017. The effect of laterality on stride parameters in cantering equines determined by hair whorl (Trichoglyphs) direction. Proceedings of the Equine and Veterinary Physiotherapy Mini-Conference, Writtle University College, Essex, 26 April 2017, pp. 6.

Murphy, N. and Verwijs, R., 2017. The impact of isolation on equine behaviour and heart rate when loading onto a horsebox. Proceedings of the Equine and Veterinary Physiotherapy Mini-Conference, Writtle University College, Essex, 26 April 2017, pp. 9.

Bouquet A., Amory J., Thompson A. and Verwijs R., 2016. Evaluation of two modified Butanol-HCL methodologies for the analysis of free condensed tannins in conjunction with their quantity occurrence in Alfalfa (Medicago sativa L.) dried at various temperatures. Advances in Animal Bioscience, pp. 130. Cambridge, Cambridge University Press.

Talks and demonstrations

Behaviour demonstrations and talks for the Pony Club, both for students, and coaches and officials.

Talk at the recent WorldWide Association of Equine Dentistry AGM.

Talks and demonstrations at Understand Horses Live (conference).

Media experience

Magazine articles

The tracks that are on song for competition horses, Your Horse, May 2024.

A Cut Too Far, Your Horse, October 2023.

The Spice of Life, British Horse, Summer 2023.

The Pecking Order: Fact or fiction? British Horse, Winter 2022.

The Big Sleep, Your Horse, September 2022.

Napping Solutions, Your Horse, June 2021.

Understanding body language, Your Horse, October 2021.

Webinars

Promoting positive equine wellbeing and behaviour through management, World Horse Welfare, February 2023. https://youtu.be/u2zHLFKpSFo

Promoting positive equine wellbeing and behaviour through diet, World Horse Welfare, January 2023. https://youtu.be/xXDhI6cSs8E

Myth busting: Is my horse being a pain or in pain? World Horse Welfare, November 2022. https://youtu.be/22kU71-7Dtc