New research shows that pastured horses can stay as fit as their counterparts that live in a stall follow an exercise regimen. Dr. Patricia M. Graham-Thiers and a research team from Virginia Intermont College used 16 horses in a 14-week study to determine if horses kept in a stall and exercised or those that lived out 24/7 would be more fit, reports The Horse.
Horses in the study were assigned to one of three groups: pasture turnout, stalled with exercise and stalled with no exercise. The full-time pastured horses were on a 100-acre pasture 24/7; the other two groups had access to only a one-acre paddock at night.
Each horse went through a standardized exercise test at the beginning and end of the study. This test lasted for 20 minutes and included walk, trot, canter and hand-gallop work, as well as a 10-minute cool-down period. Temperatures and heart rates were recorded both before, during and after exercise. Each horse also had their body fat condition scored and radiographs taken of their cannon bones to determine mineral content, which helps determine bone strength.
The team concluded that horses confined to stall rest for 14 weeks lost fitness. The pastured horses maintained a similar level of fitness to the stalled, exercised horses; pastured horses also had greater bone mineral content at the end of the study.
Read more at The Horse.
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