Many people would love to own a horse, but unfortunately have insufficient understanding of the care and financial commitment required to be a responsible horse owner. Horse ownership is not cheap. Food, housing and veterinary care all involve very significant costs. Substantial time is also required to ensure horses receive the care and attention they need. Too often insufficient understanding of equine needs, or changing life circumstances such as loss of income, mean horses are neglected.
Horses are very social animals, and naturally want to be grazing for much each day, outdoors with their herd. Unfortunately however, horses are often kept on their own. In a study of racehorses on New Zealand’s North Island, Williamson and colleagues  found that 97% of racehorses were confined to an area less than 5 x 5 metres for more than 12 hours each day, and 50% had no access to pasture or free exercise.
Highly concentrated diets are quickly consumed, leaving stabled horses with very little to do for most of the day. This is very unnatural for horses, and results in gastric (stomach) ulcers, and stereotypical behaviours. These are repetitive behaviors such as weaving, crib-biting and wind sucking, which are believed to indicate profound, ongoing stress.
1. Williamson A, Rogers CW and Firth EC. (2007). A survey of feeding, management and faecal pH of Thoroughbred racehorses in the North Island of New Zealand. NZ Vet J, 55(6), 337-341.
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