The activity of horses turned out at pasture using Trackener
A research project undertaken by BSc student Eleanor Mackenzie at University Centre Hartpury, investigated whether activity level at pasture was affected by the duration of turnout, the size of the pasture and the time of year i.e.- the season.
Five horses of different breed, age, height, sex and domestic use, all leisure horses with varying turnout lengths were used for this study. The distances travelled and speed of the horses out at pasture was analysed by using the GPS coordinates produced by the Trackener device.
The analysis revealed that the size of field did not influence the distance or speed travelled during grazing periods and that there was no significant difference between the time of year and duration of turnout. However, the distance travelled and average speed did show significant seasonal variation with greater distance and speed recorded in Autumn than Summer. These distances averaged at 7.4km/day in Autumn and 3.7km/day in the Summer.
The distances covered by horses even at their highest level of activity (Autumn -7.4km/day) are well below those of wild horses travelling up to 28.3km day (Hampson et al., 2010). The effects of reduced movement in humans has been well documented, with implications on weight, joints, physiology and even mental health. Although not as well researched in horses, the restricted turnout in domestic practices could be a contributor to problems with weight management and fluid on the joints etc.
Expert opinion by Marly Coppens
However this study was just a sample pilot with data on horses not selected by the researcher, the study produced some interesting and promising results for the future. Future work with this type of data should allow a better understanding of the behaviour of the horse, and has potential to feed into the optimisation of management practices within the equine industry.
Trackener is ideal for collecting data on horses over long periods of time and can be worn during the day and night during turnout or stabling. At Trackener they are very open to work with researchers for new studies and research projects. If you are interested in using Trackener for your research, don’t hesitate to get in touch with them () or check their website trackener.com for more information.
> From: Collins, Hartpury (2018) .