Temporary Turnout for Free Exercise in Groups: Effects on the Behavior of Competition Horses Housed in Single Stalls
Citable Link (URL):http://resolver.sub.uni-goettingen.de/purl?gs-1/7074
In Germany most competition horses are housed in single stalls and free exercise is not permitted in many cases. The reason for not allowing free exercise is mostly the risk of injury. Additionally, opinions exist that the horses’ demand for exercise is fulfilled by training or that the horses’ willingness to perform is negatively influenced by free exercise. In the present study, three turnout practices were investigated with regard to their effect on the behaviour of four horses: daily training without free exercise (NT), two-hour turnout (for free exercise) before training (TBT) and two-hour turnout after training (TAT). The aim of the study was to determine any differences in the horses’ behaviour between the three treatments. The horses’ behaviour in the stable was observed via video recordings, the behaviour during turnout was observed directly and the behaviour during training was evaluated by the riders with the aid of a questionnaire. Additionally, the distance covered during turnout was measured by GPS devices. The behaviour within the stall was more restless in the treatment NT - which became apparent in significantly more frequent changes between behaviours - compared to the treatments with turnout. The results of GPS measurement during turnout showed a significantly shorter distance covered when horses were ridden before they were turned out (TAT) compared to TBT. If the horses were turned out after training (TAT), they also showed less trotting and cantering and more standing/dozing. The horses’ willingness to perform was not significantly different between the three treatments.