Horse Grazing Characteristics - Part 4 - (HOW DO HORSES LIVE IN A DOMESTIC SITUATION?) - Lake Harding Association

Horse Grazing Characteristics – Part 4 – (HOW DO HORSES LIVE IN A DOMESTIC SITUATION?)

Horse Grazing Characteristics – Part 4 – (HOW DO HORSES LIVE IN A DOMESTIC SITUATION?)

By Micah Moen 2 Comments September 11, 2019

In this video, the 4th in the series,
we’re going to look at how horses live in the domestic situation, about the
advantages and disadvantages of being a domestic horse. Well done for getting
this far, but keep going, by the end of this video you will have learned a lot
more very important information about horses, and you will be a much more
knowledgeable horse owner. Please be sure to give this video the thumbs up and if you’d like to become a more knowledgeable horse owner make sure you
subscribe to this channel and hit the bell to be notified when a new video
becomes available every week. Domestic equines are managed by humans
for better or for worse, they have different stresses to their
more natural living counterparts, but as I said in an earlier video, once you know
how there’s a lot you can do to create a better ‘lifestyle’ for your horses, make
sure you keep watching this series right to the end. First we look at why we keep
horses the way we do, in many ways horse keeping practices have changed very
little since the time when horses were kept for work, in terms of stabling etc.
These stalls have been in use for hundreds of years, and are still in use
in places such as the Royal Mews in London and the famous Spanish Riding
School in Vienna. Twelve foot by twelve foot is the standard stable box size, this
size came about many years ago, centuries ago in fact, so horses keeping
practices have changed very little since a time when horses were kept for work,
and often were stabled in cities, in which case they were sometimes kept in even
smaller boxes or stalls, such as those in the previous picture, but the role of the
21st century horse is very different to that of their ancestors and traditional
horse keeping practices have not adapted to these changes. There are various ways
that modern horses tend to be kept, fully stabled, so that’s confined for 24/7. Partially stabled and out for the rest of the time, typically this is in at night and out by day, but it can be opposite. Or outside
24/7, and this may be in a group or on their own. Most, but not all, of the
problems that occur with horses that are classed as a welfare issue from a
behavioral point of view, happen due to over confinement, so fully stabled horses
often fare the worst, but just because your horse is not fully stabled doesn’t
mean that he or she is 100% healthy and happy either. Some owners do tend to read
the behavior of their horse wrong, a common misconception for instance, is that a horse likes his stable, because horses will often rush into a stable, this is more likely to be because the horse knows the stable
contains food, once the food is eaten the horse would usually like to go back out
again, but chances are he doesn’t have that choice.
Confined horses sometimes develop ‘stereotypic behaviors’ not seen in free-living horses and unfortunately it’s an accepted practice among many horse
owners and horse managers to use archaic methods to prevent these behaviors, such
as an electric shock collar pictured on the left which is particularly cruel and
is illegal in some countries but can bought on the internet, and just like a
more traditional wind-sucking collar, pictured on the right, it only masks the
problem but does nothing to solve it, research has shown that crib-biting and
wind-sucking is usually caused by insufficient fiber, the horse is
swallowing saliva to alleviate the acid building up in the stomach. In this
example there are solid walls and a cage door the horse can’t even put their head
over the door to look down the aisle, this example is possibly the worst case
scenario apart from a solid door, and believe it or not this practice is still
in use, the example in this picture is also more common than you would think. If you visit a zoo and see animals in
cages it probably upsets you, but this is no
better than a cage, a typical stable or stall would be totally unacceptable in a
modern zoo, imagine visiting a zoo and seeing an animal as large as a horse in
a cage as small as a stable or stall, you would certainly have something to say
about it, yet it is seen as acceptable to many horse owners in the horse industry,
not all I know, but it is to many, this is because it’s part of the CULTURE of
horse keeping, it’s a largely accepted practice, people get used to seeing such
things and they become immune to them. Modern zoos now go to great lengths to
provide ‘species specific’ enrichment for the animals in their care,
we need to do the same for our horses. Keeping horses in enclosures is not
always avoidable, but there’s usually lots that can be done to improve the
situation, these stables are much more horse friendly than normal, the horses
can choose whether to socialize or not, they can even mutually groom each other
over the wall, they can put their heads over the door in the aisle or outside,
these stables are a huge improvement on the previous example. Funnily enough even
though it used to be horses that were the work animal, we are now the workhorses, as well as extra care, confined horses also need lots of extra work and expense. Make sure you keep watching this video series to find out how you can reduce
some if not most of the work and certainly reduce the expense and keep
your horses healthy and happy at the same time. Another problem with confined
horses is that they TEND to not get enough fiber, keep in mind that research
has shown that insufficient fiber causes more stereotypic behaviors such
as wind-sucking or cribbing etc. and therefore stress, then lack of movement
does, the reason for this tendency, to not feed enough fiber, is because when a
horse is stabled the owner is providing every mouthful of feed, micromanagement
if you like, and so they tend to limit it either because they are calculating the
cost of that fiber, or otherwise. By contrast, when a horse lives outside, they have more opportunity to find their own fiber so we do need to be careful if
possible not to micromanage. Please comment below with what you’ve found interesting about this video so far… Domestic equines often receive too
little exercise and too much high-energy feed, rather than lots of low energy high
fiber feed, domestic equines may be over confined and instead of having to
find their own feed on water it’s literally given to them on a plate,
so we have to remember that modern management practices tend to ignore
their natural behavior and physiology, domestic equines have no input to
how they’re managed so we have to get it right. A problem is because they suffer
in silence horse owners can be led to think that their horses are happy when in fact
they are not, they do this because they’re an animal that’s predated on,
making a noise when in pain are stressed would signal that they are injured or a
weak and therefore make them more likely to be singled out by a predator. So,
domestic horses usually have a complete lack of choice, what they do on an
hour-by-hour basis is usually decided on by a human, they have no choice but to
wear too many rugs if their owner decides that they are necessary, they
have no choice but to stand on either side of a fence if their owner decides
that they cannot be together, notice in this picture an awful lot of money has
been spent on the fencing but the land is in very poor condition, a case of the
wrong priorities altogether, they have no choice but to graze badly managed over
grazed or ‘horse sick’ land if that’s all that’s available, in the wild the horses
would simply expand their home range in these conditions but instead these
horses have to rely on humans to get it right, their grazing the same ground all
year round in all conditions ranging from dry and dusty to wet and muddy, a
further issue is that land in this condition creates a poor image for the
horse industry, this is being countered with an increase in legislation to limit
or even prevent horse keeping in some areas, this situation is totally
avoidable there are so many benefits to improving horse and land management, less legislation being one of them, if the land that your horses live on looks like
this you might think there’s nothing you can do about it, but there is, if you start to change your management you will reap many
benefits, even if you don’t own the land, you, your horses and the environment will
all be better off. If the pasture is not correctly managed then horses will not
spend time grazing or exercising themselves, they will simply stand around
for hours on end especially if they’re kept separately, this wears the pasture
out, creates more weeds, dust and mud and adds to the downward spiral of events that happens with poor horse and land
management. Domestic horses are often prevented from interacting with other
horses, this can cause high levels of stress in a horse, but we do need to keep in mind that
horses that are kept together do not get to choose their herd mates, introducing
new horses to each other must be done carefully, you can never know too much
about horse behavior though, when horses socialize it can look aggressive, this is
where the terms ‘horseplay’ and ‘horsing around’ come from, to describe people when they’re playing roughly, these two horses have known each other from birth and are
simply playing, but we also need to be aware that we can create competition and
aggression by supplementary feeding grouped horses, remember, in the wild feed
is either everywhere are nowhere at any one time, this means that free living horses don’t tend to fight over food, so, ideally
domestic horses should be separated for the short time that it takes to eat any
supplementary food, horses will usually happily share grass and hay but not
concentrates, in fact, natural living horses try to avoid aggression,
there is lots of posturing and display, but actual aggressive contact is
minimized as either party could be injured and become potential prey, in the
wild there is much more room to keep out of each other’s way and there’s also no
artificial grouping, with few if any new adult members being introduced. So just turning horses out 24/7 is not
necessarily good horse management either, there’s many things that you need to
understand about horse management in order to keep horses outside most if not
all of the time, but to do it well, if you don’t get it right your horse or horses
and the land that they live on will suffer. The modern domestic horse is
suffering from the same problems as modern humans and pets, in this picture
you could almost say the ponies are wearing designer clothes, but they
themselves don’t care about the latest fashion in rugs etc., modern domestic
horses are suffering from age and obesity related problems, they’re eating
more junk food, such as high sugar foods, they’re rarely working physically for a living as they did in the past, the modern house owner, just as
in all areas of their life, is under huge consumer pressure to buy things that the
horse does not necessarily need or want, we have to be ever mindful that we do
what is right for our animals, even if that means not following the crowd.
Domestic horses do tend to live longer, a lot longer, than wild horses, meet Shane
he was thought to be the oldest horse in the world at the time, at 51, and we’ve
since heard of horses even older than this, he was surrendered to a sanctuary
at about 30 years old for retirement, but many years later he was still
fit and well, he was euthanized recently as his joints were no longer strong
enough to support him. So, modern domestic horses tend to have a high energy diet
and at the same time they’re not usually moving enough, they don’t usually have to
cope with a range of temperatures, they don’t have to be on the alert, they’re
not usually reproducing, this of course is a good thing as there are far too
many unwanted horses, and of course they are being wormed, rugged etc. To summarize, basically the modern domestic horse is a couch potato compared to his ancestors and wild-living relatives. In this video you’ve learned about how modern domestic horses have a very different lifestyle to their
free-living counterparts, domestic horses can become stressed if we don’t
acknowledge important facts about their natural or normal behavior, modern
domestic horses and their owners have many issues to face. In the next video
you’re going to learn more about horse behaviour. The next video is called ‘How do horses actually spend their day?’ In this video you’ll learn about what
horses do on a daily basis, so we’re drilling down into their behavior if you
like, to watch this video you’ll need to sign up for the rest of the FREE Horse
Grazing Characteristics course on our website, there’s a link below, if you’ve enjoyed this video please let us know by liking
it, subscribe and share with your fellow horsey friends and please leave a comment with what you found interesting, make sure you look out for the next video in
this series, there’s a link below, you can get the whole mini course about horse
grazing characteristics for free, see the link, if you’re interested in learning
more about better horse management by learning about what is really important
to your horse, we have a private Facebook group but do the course first and see if
it interests you…

2 Comments found


Equiculture and Horse Riders Mechanic

I hope you like this video! This is the FORTH in the series – Horse Grazing Characteristics – Part 4 – (HOW DO HORSES LIVE IN A DOMESTIC SITUATION?). This is the information that your horse or horses WOULD REALLY LIKE YOU TO KNOW! This is the last video in the series on YouTube – you can watch the rest of the course on our website Please let us know what you think by commenting below 🙂


Bevin Allison

I have to respectably disagree on some hirses and their stables. My gelding gloves his cause it has the fan. He's only in for breakfast or night or during huge storms. However, they can't get him out of his stall unless they unplug the fan and kind of ease him out if the stall. If that fans still going he refuses to leave at all. He doesn't have any stall vices either dispite being a race horse 7 years of his life, lots of stall and trailer time for those horses on the track, he is 18 now. My mare and yearling colt probably would rather be out as u said, but agian luckily they r only in for breakfast and dinner or during storms like hurican Dorian which just went by us. It is a cover for them where they know predators won't eat them or things in huge winds won't hit them as they did my mare during hurrican Irma when someone left her out in it, so it may give some of them, not all or even most, but some of them a break from always being alert. They just did a study on hirses with rugs too. They taught the horses to give signals for rugs and then taught them how to pick the rug so then as temperatures changes or didn't they let horses pick if they wanted the rugs on or off and usually up to around 60 degrees f 90 percent of the horses choose rugs on. They all, I believe it was all, wanted rugs on in wind or rain even if it was slightly warmer. That's a neat study.


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