Experts at the University of Notthingham investigated the behavioural patterns and general wellbeing of horses that are stabled alone. Horses that are stabled in isolation were observed. Results showed that these horses presented signs of stress and restlessness. Horses are herd animals and are most comfortable in a group; this is for security and companionship reasons. The research group also recorded thermal images of the eye and observed: “another non-invasive measure of stress response, showed eye temperature to be significantly lower for group-housed horses – showing lower levels of stress – when compared to all others.”
Horses that are stabled alone also proved to have behavioural difficulties especially when being handled.
Dr Kelly Yarnell, equine specialist at the university added that: “the behavioural and physiological findings of our study show that social housing designs provide a much better standard of equine welfare.”
Individual stabling seems to be safer and some believe it makes the horse more comfortable to have its own space, but in reality horses are most at ease when in contact with other horses. Horse owners are encouraged to rather build large stables that can house at least two horses or build stables with windows in between so that the horses can communicate with each other.