Science & Equine

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Written by Marly Coppens

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Lying behavior in horses in relation to box size

Horses in large boxes spent statistical significant more time recumbent than horses in a small box. Box size affected the occurrence of the rolling behavior before getting up. This was particular seen in horses that started in a large box and went to a small box than vice versa and might be due to adaptation time to a smaller living environment.

Although studies on equine sleep are limited, they proposed that sleep could serve as a thermoregulatory function, take part in memory consolidation, permits alertness, saves energy and is a restorative process. It was found that short-term lack of sleep increases the total sleep time during recovery.

In the current study 8 horses were analyzed. Four of them were kept first in a large box (2.5 × height of the withers) and then in a small box (1.5 × height of the withers) and the other 4 vice versa (Table 1). After a 5-day adaptation period, the lying behavior, which included; frequency and duration of sternal and lateral recumbency, rotating behavior just before lying down, and rolling behavior just before getting up was analyzed from video recordings.

However duration of sternal recumbency was significantly longer in the large boxes, the difference was so little that it is questionable whether it has any implications for the horse ( Table 2). The mean total time of recumbency each night was 135 minutes in the small- and 140 minutes in the large box.

P. Raabymagle et al., Journal of Equine Veterinary Science, Volume 26, Number 1, 2006. All rights reserved to Elsevier Inc. Click here for the J-EVS summaray

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