EQUUS - - Eq Letters -

New re­search from the Univer­sity of Con­necti­cut sug­gests that horses on pas­ture are gen­er­ally un­de­terred by win­tery con­di­tions, walk­ing roughly the same dis­tance ev­ery day re­gard­less of the weather.

For the study, the re­searchers chose four mares and five geld­ings who were used for the univer­sity rid­ing pro­gram dur­ing the day and turned out in a .85acre pas­ture with a small ad­ja­cent pad­dock area each night. Once a week for a year, re­searchers fit­ted each horse with a GPS unit to col­lect move­ment data over a 10-hour pe­riod.

They found that the av­er­age dis­tance each horse trav­eled dur­ing the night

was con­sis­tent---3.5 kilo­me­ters (a lit­tle more than two miles)---but the paths they took var­ied greatly. In the spring and sum­mer months, the horses trav­eled through­out the larger pad­dock each night. Dur­ing the win­ter, they trav­eled the same dis­tance but stayed in a smaller area, close to the fence line and hay.

The re­searchers con­clude that, “this in­for­ma­tion shows that turnout is still im­por­tant for horses in all sea­sons, even in poor weather, if they are to main­tain nat­u­ral travel pat­terns.” Ref­er­ence: “Ef­fect of sea­son on travel pat­terns and hoof growth of do­mes­tic horses,” Jour­nal of Equine Vet­eri­nary Sci­ence, July 2014

ON THE MOVE: As th­ese images made us­ing GPS track­ing show, horses on pas­ture tend to range far­ther dur­ing the warmer months.

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