Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)


Youth Development and Agricultural Education

Committee Chair

Colleen M. Brady

Committee Member 1

Camie R. Heleski

Committee Member 2

Linda J. Pfeiffer


Developing countries lack the resources and technological advancements commonly used by developed countries for production and must rely on manual or animal labor to aide in the creation, collection, and distribution of products for income. In Haiti and Honduras, the leading role of a working equid is to provide transportation for families and products to and from marketplaces. It is not uncommon for one equid to carry loads three times its body weight and make up to six trips, accumulating up to fifty miles per day, to and from its home. With extreme environmental and physical constraints placed on these working equids, equid health and performance decrease significantly. With little income to feed a family, equid owners may neglect seeking medical attention or additional costs related to their working equid. Promotion of the longevity and overall health of the equid is often overlooked, as the animal is overworked, thus further damaging its welfare. Studies divulge serious welfare concerns for the estimated 112 million working equids in developing countries where the equids have minimal access to clean water, limited grazing opportunities, poor body condition scores, facial and body wounds, and psychological fear associated with human-equid interactions. The research team sought to identify if equid owner’s locus of control was a variable contributing to the physiological and psychological welfare of working equids. The locus of control theory employed in this study was developed by Julian Rotter in 1966 and represents Rotter’s belief that man has the capability to determine his fate based on actions and reactions to his environment. This theory identifies that an individual can possess either an internal or external locus of control, which inevitably dictates the decisions they make in their life. An individual who possesses the quality traits of an internal locus of control is said to believe that their personal abilities, efforts, and or actions determine the outcome of their life. Rotter also identifies the characteristics of individuals who possess an external locus of control. Those with an external locus of control believe that fate, luck, chance, or other outside forces dictate the outcomes of their life. Identifying an owner’s locus of control, as a potential factor affecting overall welfare of working equids in developing regions of the world, may assist future research teams in understanding the underlying causes of lower welfare scores seen in these regions. This study took place over the span of one year, in 2017, beginning with a pilot test in Haiti on a sample of 10 Milot equid owners and their associated working equids (n=10). Information on research tools administered in Haiti allowed the research team to revise all research tools and implement the study on 65 Honduran equid owners and their associated working equids in October of 2017 (n=65). The results of this study identified a relationship between working equid behavior scores and owner locus of control, indicating that owners with external locus of controls had equids with lower behavioral scores. Additionally, a significant positive relationship was found between anterior knee lesions and owners exhibiting external locus of controls. While no significant relationship between owner locus of control and total equid welfare score could be determined, the research poses many benefits for future studies focusing on equid welfare and owner interactions to NGO’s, research teams, and medically trained personnel interested in the improvement of working equid welfare. Implementation of the locus of control survey into educational intervention strategies will provide educators and non-governmental organizations with individualized information regarding potential populations and allow those educators to tailor their material to suit each demographic in a meaningful and personally relatable way.