What Your Horse Really Wants
The following is a guest blog by UC Davis Veterinary student Julia Mosier.
Many people spend time fantasizing about their dream house, but horse people know that the dream barn is what life is truly all about. Maybe your dream barn is a monument of beautiful oak, with an airy vaulted ceiling, a breezeway that could fit three wide, stalls as far as the eye can see, and a state-of-the-art indoor wash rack. Or maybe you envision something more quaint, like the classic little red barn with white trim where your horses can be tucked away safely at night. While you have spent hours, maybe days, imagining the intricacies of your ideal barn, have you ever stopped to wonder what your horse would design?
What do horses care about?
While the biology of wild horses is identical to our domestic horses, their lifestyles are certainly not. Wild horses are extremely active, spending up to 20 hours and 10,000 strides a day foraging for small, frequent meals of high fiber, live grasses. Horses are well adapted to this lifestyle, having great endurance and secreting stomach acid 24/7 to digest the regular meals. Meanwhile, we keep our horses in stalls, ride for an hour a day, and feed two meals of high quality hay and grain which they quickly consume. This disconnect between our horses' needs and our standard husbandry can create physical and mental problems in some horses.