Research Article
Volume 5 Issue 3 - 2020
Twenty-Four Hour Movement Patterns of Domestic Horses on Pasture and in Stalls as Assessed by a Step Activity Monitor
Robert M Bowker*, Julie M Hubbard, Kara N Corps, Kathryn A Natchek, Diane J Blackwood and JoAnne C Griffin
Department of Pathobiology and Diagnostic Investigation, Michigan State University, USA
*Corresponding Author: Robert M Bowker, Department of Pathobiology and Diagnostic Investigation, Michigan State University, USA.
Received: January 21, 2020; Published: February 13, 2020


Objectives: To determine the average daily step activities of domestic horses on pasture and stalled conditions.

Sample Population: 12 mature domestic horses.

Procedure: A Step Activity Monitor (SAM) affixed to distal limb recorded step activity/hour of horses on pasture and in stalls for 4 - 15 days under four time periods: nighttime session (12 am to 8 am), morning transition (8 am to 10 am), daytime session (10 am to 8 pm) and evening transition (8 pm to 12 am). The following sessions show recording sequences: PP: Pasture daylight/Pasture nighttime; PS: Pasture daylight-(10 am to 8 pm)- Stall night (12 am to 8 am); SP-Stall daylight-(10 am - 8 pm)-Pasture nighttime (12 am to 8 am) and SS-stall-horses in stall 24-hours/day. During morning and evening transition periods, horses were moved, fed grain-pellets and hay, and briefly interacted with humans. The Step Watch software collected and analyzed the data in steps/hour for each session. An estimate of distance traveled was determined on pastures. Behaviors were periodically observed and recorded. An ANOVA analysis determined differences in recordings both for effect of time of day and for housing conditions and the interaction of the two. A post hoc Fishers-PLSD test was used for pair wise comparisons. Values of P < 0.05 were considered significant.

Results: The pasture only (PP) sessions showed significantly more step activity than any other condition; this increased step activity occurred only during the daylight sessions rather than at nighttime. Recorded step events were greater during the daylight period than during the nighttime for horses in conditions (PP) and (PS), with the 24-hr daily records showing a distinct circadian rhythm. Certain behaviors and step activity were described. Condition (SS) activity had fewest steps per 24-hours and remained unchanged throughout the day. Average daily step total on PP conditions was nearly 10,000 steps, with all other conditions being less.

Conclusions and Clinical Relevance: Domestic horses, on 24-hour pasture turnout, have greater locomotor activity than other conditions and this increased step activity occurred during daylight period and not during nighttime. When stalled fewer steps were recorded than during other conditions, suggesting that being stalled was an overall negative influence on a horse’s movements. These data are discussed in relation to movements of feral horses and to the potential usefulness of SAM in correlating step activity and behaviors with other husbandry practices. The data may prove to be clinically useful during rehabilitation of lameness conditions of domestic horses.

Keywords: Step Activity; Horses; Circadian Rhythm; Locomotion, Behavior


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Citation: Robert M Bowker., et al. “Twenty-Four Hour Movement Patterns of Domestic Horses on Pasture and in Stalls as Assessed by a Step Activity Monitor”. EC Nutrition 5.3 (2020): 01-15.

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