Handling and feeding errors in horses

Improper handling and feeding causes stress for horses housed in pits, which in turn increases unwanted behaviors

According to a research team from the State University of Maringa in Brazil, “animals housed in stables in stables do not have autonomy over food choice or the duration of browsing and tend to be inactive between meals. Additionally, other normal activities, such as social interaction and rest, are affected when horses are confined to the pits. Short periods of feeding combined with long intervals between meals can promote abnormal or stereotypical behaviors in horses. Therefore, although the boxes can provide security, they can negatively affect the welfare and performance of the animals.”

Study of horses housed in pits

To improve the well-being and handling of the horses and ensure the quality of life and improve performance, researchers studied 105 blocks of adult horses housed in stalls for 30 days. All the horses were actively participating in competitions. The horses had no physical contact with other horses except during training. They were fed four times a day, alternating forage and concentrates.


All horses were observed for 24 consecutive hours, and their behavior was evaluated. The key findings of the study were:

  • The horses did not receive enough energy or crude protein (the average score for body condition was 4 on the 9-point scale commonly used);
  • The food was consumed very quickly, leaving enough time to perform undesirable behaviors;
  • Examples of undesirable behaviors included restlessness, listlessness, stall walking, eating manure, head shaking, licking, foraging, and lashing out. These behaviors were more frequently expressed in older and larger horses;
  • The long time between meals and the insufficient energy (calories) offered to the horses may be responsible for the undesirable behaviors observed in this study.


Kathleen Crandell, Ph.D. Kentucky Equine Research nutritionist stated that “The feeding practices of domestic horses, particularly those that live in boxes for most of the day, are far from natural. These researchers suggest that weighing feed, using small hole hay nets or slow feeders, and feeding less feed more frequently can reduce undesirable behaviors and improve equine welfare when horses must be confined to boxes. "

Bueno Ribeiro, L., T. Vasconcelos Matzkeit, J. Teodoro de Souza Nicolau. 2019. Determinants of undesirable behaviors in American Quarter Horses housed in box stalls. Journal of Equine Veterinary Science 80:69-75. 

  • Please enter a comment

Name *
Email address *
Comment *

* Required fields

Information on the processing of your personal data
We inform you that, in compliance with the provisions of current national and European regulations for the Protection of Personal Data and Services of the Information Society and Electronic Commerce, by sending us this form you are expressly giving your consent to Grupo Asís Biomedia , SL, (hereinafter, "ASIS GROUP") so that, as the person in charge, it may process your personal data in order to respond to your request for contact and information by electronic means.

Likewise, when you expressly consent, we will process your personal data to send you specialized information, newsletters, offers and exclusive promotions from GRUPO ASIS and related companies.

For the aforementioned purpose, GRUPO ASIS may transfer your data to other companies linked to GRUPO ASIS or to third party service providers for the management of electronic communications and other security services, even in cases where they are outside of the European Union, provided that they legally guarantee the adequate level of protection required by European regulations.

At any time you can withdraw the consent given and exercise the rights of access, rectification, deletion, portability of your data and limitation or opposition to its treatment by contacting GRUPO ASIS by sending an email to protecciondatos @, or by written communication to address at Centro Empresarial El Trovador, 8th floor, office I, Plaza Antonio Beltrán Martínez 1, 50002, Zaragoza (Spain), indicating in either case the Ref. Personal data and the right you exercise, as well as attaching a copy of your ID or replacement identification document.

I have read and accept the treatment of my data according to the informed purpose and according Legal notes and the Privacy Policy
I wish to receive commercial information from GRUPO ASIS and related companies

More news

WVC Annual Conference 2024


Diagnostic accuracy of plain radiography to identify synovial penetration in horses with traumatic limb wounds


Effects of administration of vitamin C on oxidative status in healthy horses


Viticus Group 96th WVC Annual Conference is Back – It’s Time to Vet Differently


Exocrine pancreatic insufficiency in dogs and cats




News of interest


Copyright © 2024 - All Rights Reserved
ISSN 2768-198X