We’re all very, very aware that there are a huge number of factors that go into keeping horses healthy — both in their body and their minds. This Week in Horse Health News, presented by our friends at MediVet Equine, whose range of ground-breaking products will help keep your equine partner’s body in tip-top shape, we have a couple management-centric practices that you may want to keep in mind:
Where’s the best place for a horse to be on a hot day: in the open in the sun or in a shady shelter? You might think they’d prefer to be under the shade of shelter, and may even be tempted to restrict them to a shady space, but it seems that’s not the case. Using GPS trackers on horses that lived in paddocks with shade structures, Dr. Betsy Greene of the University of Arizona found that that when given the choice, horses spend relatively little time out of the sun under their own volition. Owners should resist the temptation to restrict their horses to staying under a structure like a run-in shed when it’s hot out and instead let them utilize their natural cooling mechanisms. [The Horse]
Are there any management practices that might make life in a stall a little more enjoyable? Life in a stall is sometimes necessary, such as during recovery form an injury or stabling at an event, but we know it’s not the ideal situation for most horses. A French study looked at 187 sport horses all routinely housed primarily in box stalls and whether various management factors increased sign of good horse welfare, or in other words, made the horses happier. They made some interesting observations:
- Horses that had a window to the outside world seemed to display less aggressiveness. This could be because the window reduces feelings of frustration, which can be expressed though aggressive behavior towards humans.
- Horses with straw bedding also displayed less aggressiveness. Straw bedding might encourage horses to lie down more and forage more than other types of bedding. Those things could also reduce feelings of frustration as well as physical pain.
- The more concentrated feed a horse ate, the more likely they were to display oral stereotypic behaviors (such as cribbing).
- Overall though, the majority of factors tested had no effect on improving the welfare of stalled horses. These factors included discipline of riding, number of hours under saddle or on a lunge or walker, and level of competitive performance,