8 Facts About Circadian and Circannual Rhythms in Horses

Daylight cycles influence physiology and behavior rhythms. And, as an Irish researcher recently reported, understanding how horses respond to these cycles can help you better manage your animals.
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8 Facts About Circadian and Circannual Rhythms in Horses
Horses’ circannual rhythms get synchronized by not only light and dark but also climate changes (especially temperature) and available nutrition throughout the year. | Photo: iStock

Nearly all organisms, including horses, adapt their lifestyles to the timing of sunrise and sunset. These light and dark cycles result in daily (circadian) and annual (circannual) rhythms of physiology and behavior. And, as a researcher in Ireland recently reported, understanding how horses respond to these cycles can help you manage them accordingly.

Barbara Murphy, PhD, assistant professor in University College Dublin’s School of Agriculture and Food Science, in Ireland, has extensively studied circadian and circannual rhythms and how they affect horses. As one of the keynote speakers at the 2019 Equine Science Society Symposium, held June 3-6 in Asheville, North Carolina, she described them in-depth

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Alexandra Beckstett, a native of Houston, Texas, is a lifelong horse owner who has shown successfully on the national hunter/jumper circuit and dabbled in hunter breeding. After graduating from Duke University, she joined Blood-Horse Publications as assistant editor of its book division, Eclipse Press, before joining The Horse. She was the managing editor of The Horse for nearly 14 years and is now editorial director of EquiManagement and My New Horse, sister publications of The Horse.

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