A person’s horses stay outside all winter, and often the water in their troughs freezes over when the temperature drops. The owner carries two buckets of warm water out to help thaw the troughs in the morning and evening, but otherwise does not provide additional water.
The median rating of this scenario was 4, with a range of 1 to 5. What was particularly interesting to DuBois about this vignette is that it raises a welfare issue specifically addressed in Canada’s national Code of Practice for keeping horses. “Access to water, regardless of weather, is a requirement of the Code of Practice,” says DuBois. “We were interested in determining how much water participants deemed ‘adequate’ for the horses in question.”
The responses to this scenario showed that equine professionals were concerned with the number of horses in the scenario, indicating that if the owner was providing for many horses with only two buckets of water this wasn’t acceptable. While professionals were critical of certain practices, they were also cognizant of the difficulties of horse management, especially during Canadian winters. As a result, some professionals indicated that they were appreciative of the owner’s efforts to provide water, regardless of the quantity.