Sunday, August 23, 2015

Empty Fields Everywhere - Why Movement Is So Important for Horses - Full Article

15 August 2014

by Juliet M. Getty, Ph.D.

Driving through Kentucky recently, I passed breathtaking farms – acres and acres of meticulously manicured pastures, lined with white Kentucky-style four board fences that seemed to travel for miles. What struck me, however, was their barrenness.

Where are all the horses?

Placed high on mounds in the distance were spectacular barns – horse “hotels” where horses reside – some just during the day, some for the majority of the time.

While this may be convenient for the horse owner, standing in a small area for hours on end (even if part of it is outdoors) takes its toll on your horse’s mental and physical health, to such a great extent, that it dramatically diminishes his quality, and length, of life.

Horses need to move. Ever tried staying in a small room for most of the day? And we like cozy places! Horses do not!

Their very survival depends on their ability to flee at a moment’s notice from dangers, real or perceived. Trapped, they eventually succumb to their fate, appearing as though they are accepting and perhaps even appreciating their solitude. But the stress takes its toll on their immune system and hormonal responses, leading to a vast variety of health issues.

All body systems, including cardiovascular, respiratory, digestive, reproductive, neuromuscular, and skeletal systems depend on exercise to remain sound. If the horse cannot be ridden every day, many will benefit from simply being lunged or worked in a round pen. And all horses benefit from free exercise by walking around in a large pasture (or large dry lot with hay available)...

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