Which equestrian sport has the greatest risk of locomotor injuries? What kind of turnout results in the most wounds? How much competitive activity does it take to cause digestive upset?

While science often confirms what experienced horse people have intuitively believed for years, it can also reveal some unexpected findings. So some riders might be surprised to learn that, according to results from a new study, it’s dressage horses—not jumping or Western performance horses—that have the greatest risk of locomotor problems. And it’s horses that get only a few hours of turnout each day that are more likely to injure themselves in the field than those with constant turnout.

“There’s often a sort of almost religious belief about what’s good or not good to do for our horses, but there’s actually rather limited scientific data into the relationship between our horses’ health and what we do with them, with a few exceptions,” said Uta König von Borstel, PhD, a researcher at the University of Göttingen, in Germany. König von Borstel presented her team’s research results at the 2016 International Society for Equitation Science (ISES) conference, held June 23-26 in Saumur, France.

“So we decided to put some science behind the ideas—and we found a few surprises,” she said.

In their study, König von Borstel and her colleagues gathered information from nearly 1,600 owners of health-insured horses across Germany. They asked details about how the horses were housed, what disciplines they participated in, whether they were shod, how frequently they were t