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Social Behaviour in Horses

January has rolled around again; the month of fresh new starts and exciting exercise regimes, well, in usual years at least! While January 2021 may still consist of some of that, it also consists of ‘bubbles’ and ‘social distancing’, which is not so different to some interesting new research into horses’ herds from the University of Bristol and Royal Veterinary College.

The research is based on how the social behaviour of horses living in herds can influence their body condition. Much like if we live with people who play video games all day, we might do the same, but if we live with keen walkers, things might be very different!

The researchers looked at the social dominance of each equine and how often their grazing was disturbed – through vigilance, movement and social interactions, positive or negative. As you might expect, higher vigilance was linked to a lower body condition score, as these horses spent less time grazing.

It goes to show that a horse who is underweight or overweight can be helped by who it is turned out with. An overweight horse will spend less time grazing if it spends more time grooming or playing with its field mates.

At Remus, our residents are turned out in small groups for a harmonious environment. However, other horses aren’t so lucky and we do experience large herds together, particularly in instances of fly grazing. Unfortunately some horses in these types of situations suffer socially, which has an impact on their physical and mental wellbeing.

You can read more about the research at: www.horseandhound.co.uk/news/horses-social-behaviour-could-influence-their-weight-survey-finds-733449.

If you would like to buy food for an animal for a week or a tethered horse, you can do so online on our website at:  www.remussanctuary.org/product-category/treats-for-remus.

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