Researchers Assess Horses’ Susceptibility to Cold, Heat Loss

A team from Norway conducted a series of studies on coat type, body-clipping, and metal shoes to understand how and where horses lose body heat.
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Researchers Assess Horses’ Susceptibility to Cold, Heat Loss
“The common management of clipping, blanketing, and stabling in warm buildings is perhaps not the best we can do to help our horse maintaining thermal comfort,” said Dr. Grete H.M. Jørgensen. | Photo: Photos.com
Is your horse hot-natured or cold-natured? Or somewhere in between?

Norwegian researchers have found that horses’ susceptibility to cold is individualized. Breed, genetics, body condition, coat type, exercise level, diet, age, and health all contribute to how horses lose heat—and how humans should manage that heat loss through blanketing, shelter, and feeding.

“The common management of clipping, blanketing, and stabling in warm buildings is perhaps not the best we can do to help our horse maintaining thermal comfort,” said Grete H.M. Jørgensen, PhD, of the Norwegian Institute of Bioeconomy Research, in Tjøtta. “But it’s what everybody else does. It is what the professional riders do. And it is what we humans would do when we feel cold.

“Everyone loves their horses and wants to do the very best for them, but to be honest, I think the general knowledge about thermoregulation in horses is somewhat lacking,” she added. “Every individual should be evaluated separately, and management routines might change as the horse gets older, exercise routines are altered, or if the horse becomes pregnant or sick

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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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