Field time: How many kilometers do horses walk every day?

Have you ever wondered how much your horse actually moves when he´s turned out? Then look no further. A research project carried out by bachelor, Eleanor Mackenzie from Hartpury University in England aims to investigate the activity level of horses in the field. The project also looks in to whether the length of the field time, and the size of the field matters. An if the season has an impact on how many kilometers horses walk every day? Read the interesting results here.

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OVER 5000 HOURS OF DATA

Many horses of different breeds, age, height, sex and use were part for the study. There were also variations in the folding time for the different horses. Some were turned out for about five hours, while others stood outside most of the day. The researcher measured the distance of each of the horses while they were outside. In addition, she also measured how fast the horses moved. Everything was done with GPS trackers mounted on the horses. In total, she collected over 5,000 hours of data regarding how much horses walk every day.

The GPS coordinates revealed that the horses were mainly moving in the same places as shown below.

The green marked areas show where the horses were mainly walking in the field during the experiments. Photo: Trackener.com

MOST MOVEMENT IN THE AUTUMN

The analyzes revealed that the size of the field did not affect how far or how fast the horses went. However, the experiments showed that the distance traveled and the average speed varied depending on whether it was winter or summer. Perhaps you think this is logical, since winter for many horses offers muddy fields. While that might be true, the horses actually moved less in the summer. In autumn and winter, the horses moved an average of 7.4 km a day, while in summer they only moved 3.7 kilometers. In comparison, wild horses move an average of 28.3 kilometers a day.

WHAT DID WE LEARN?

The effects of reduced movement in humans are well documented in terms of weight gain, impact on joints, muscles and even mental health. Although this has not been studied to the same extent in horses, most equine people may well agree that horses need to move. This keeps them thriving physically and mentally.

Although the study how may kilometers horses walk in the field every day was a pilot study – that is, a study that was still in the trial stage – it still tells us something about how essential turnout time is for horses. It also testifies to how important it is that the turnout time is supplemented by other physical activity daily. This helps the horse to reach an activity level that is just a bit reminiscent of that of the wild horse.

Want to know more? Read about the entire research project.

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