Stabling is Stressful for Horses!
Science has known for years that keeping horses in stables creates increased levels of stress in horses. In June 2013 a paper was published in The Journal of Equine Veterinary Science (Stress response of three year old horse mares to changes in Husbandry System During Initial Equestrian Training) that proved that keeping horses in stables is significantly stressful for horses, with cortisol levels increasing to up to 4 times that of a horse living outside in a field in a natural group scenario. Horses also had an increased heart rate whilst kept in the stables. The study concluded that separating young horses from their group and placing them in individual stabling are perceived as stressful.
A large number of equines are still kept in stables despite this knowledge. Horse owners and owners of equestrian facilities need to take this information into consideration and let horses, be horses, which means being outside! Yes it is more convenient for humans to keep horses in stables, but surely the horses well being should be the main consideration. The relationships that we have with our horses will benefit by them being calm and happy and from loving their lives.
Stress in horses is not always easy for humans to recognise. It can manifest itself in very different ways than stress in humans. Sometimes horses loose weight, sometimes they develop so called stable vices such as walking round the stable or swaying their heads. Hopefully with more and more scientific evidence coming to the forefront, we will make our equine friends happier by keeping them outside as much as we can! Thankfully, at Cabalgatas Canoa, we like to keep our horses as close to nature as possible, so our herd live outside all the time, just as nature intended, which means we have great relationships with them and they are super happy to work with our clients.