How Paddock Size Impacts Equine Social Interactions

Larger paddocks led to fewer social interactions–both positive and negative–among horses, researchers found.
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paddock size
Larger paddocks led to fewer social interactions--both positive and negative--among horses, researchers found. | Photo: iStock
Worried about too much contact among your horses out in the field? Give them larger fields! Polish researchers said larger paddocks led to fewer social interactions among horses—which could benefit their health and welfare.

“The differences in the number of encounters between horses in the two types of paddocks in our study were huge,” said Katarzyna Majecka, PhD, of the University of Lódz, in Poland.

Those encounters included both positive and negative interactions—from mutual grooming to threats and kicks. The reduction in positive interactions went hand-in-hand with fewer negative interactions when moving the horses to a larger grass paddock from a smaller sand paddock. But the benefits of having fewer negative interactions are undeniable, said Majecka and fellow researcher Aneta Klawe, MSc.

“Large paddocks make it possible for submissive horses to avoid the company of aggressive individuals and, hence, they can prevent injury,” the researchers stated

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Passionate about horses and science from the time she was riding her first Shetland Pony in Texas, Christa Lesté-Lasserre writes about scientific research that contributes to a better understanding of all equids. After undergrad studies in science, journalism, and literature, she received a master’s degree in creative writing. Now based in France, she aims to present the most fascinating aspect of equine science: the story it creates. Follow Lesté-Lasserre on Twitter @christalestelas.

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