England 20/06/2013 – Horses are perceived by most as hardworking, so new research that has shown some are actually lazy has caused quite a stir.
The study appeared in a recent edition of the Journal of Veterinary Behavior and makes compelling reading. However, not all agree with the study’s findings. Some in the equine world feel that the horses involved in the study were just not engaged enough to want to spend long carrying out the assigned task.
A Y-shaped maze was built, and horses were sent through it repeatedly. The horse had two options, to take the first entrance and go through the maze following a 130ft long route, or use the other entrance, which meant the horse had to travel 260ft before exiting the maze. At first horses entered the maze with a rider, so that they got used to it and learnt the two routes. After a time which route they took was up to them. Each horse repeated the process until a preference was established or they had completed 35 solitary journeys through the maze.
In total, 14 horses took part. Of these, eight showed no preference, 2 used the longer route more and 4 went for the shorter route. Interestingly, many of the horses showed an increasing reluctance to enter the maze as the trial progressed and some even tried to exit the arena.
Staff at T.E.N Supplements read the study with special interest. Over the years, they have received many enquiries from owners who want to boost energy levels in their horses. Some of these owners struggle to get their horses to take enough exercise to stay healthy. They find that their horses start out fine, and appear to be enjoying their exercise, but quickly flag and want to return home quickly. These reports prompted T.E.N. Supplements to explore the issue further. They realised there was something in the reports they were getting from customers, so looked at developing an energy boosters and trialled it with some owners with unenergetic horses. Most owners reported a difference, one owner said ‘Corrigan has always been a bit lacking in enthusiasm but he has felt a lot more ‘up for it’ when being ridden and this has in turn meant I could get him fitter and up his work levels’.