Behaviour observation Horse: Sonara breed: Canadian X QH Âge: 10
Living situation: for now (it depends on the season and weather), outside in a large pasture 24/7 (so water and grass ad libidum), in a group of 9 horses from all age (foal, adult, old), breed, sex (no stallion or suited mare). Come in for concentrates, and return outside. Spend the night inside if there is heavy/cold rain. Working 3-4 times a week (return to work after 6 months of rest for injuries(abscess, laminitis, tendon injury)), muscular work, on line (not ridden for now, as she needs to rebuild muscle)
Results for feeding ethogram are on the bottom of the page. NB: I change some section’s name to add some behaviour that I saw and I wanted to note as, for me, it was relevant.
Sonara seems pretty calm all the time of the experimentation. But her ear movements can show a bit of anxiousness. This could not be related to the feed itself as her stall is next to the door and she was looking outside (the door is left open for better aeration). There is no big change in her behaviour before, during and after feed time, but there is slight change: Before: She looked more at me, knowing I had the feed, waiting patiently for me to bring the food. During: One behaviour, eating! More concentrate on her food than anything else.
After: She starts yawning after eating (is eating can make horses sleepy as we do? This could be a great searching project). She still looked at me (maybe looking if I had more food?). New thing is also that she licks her lips sometimes.
I’m happy with her behaviour at feeding time, no impatience, no anxiousness, no big stress, so I don’t really want to change anything about it.
Time budget (when not worked)
Time budget (when worked )
Time budget (when sleeping inside)
Other section includes: grooming/interaction with other horses, running, trekking, scratching, rolling.
Sonara time budgets are close to Camargue ponies time budget. It is logical fit as this mare is actually 24/7 outside, so her time budget is close to Camarague ponies who are also outdoor in natural condition. She normally lay in the same spot every morning (around 10 o’clock) and enjoy a sunbath. Then she spends more of her time eating, some time standing with other horses (they normally stand together, close enough to chase flies). At different moments of the day she can take a good run with the group, groom with a conspecific, roll or scratch herself on a tree. She also spends time trekking, when the group change of eating spot (there are different eating sections in the field, they seem to have a pattern of eating, ex: every night they are in the back section of the field, in the morning they are in the right side section of the field, etc. They seem to respect this pattern.).
On the day she needs to sleep inside, her time budget is similar to “individual stall, straw and hay ad libidum” group. There is a slight difference between this group and the reality of this mare: She’s not inside 24/7 and she’s not fed ad libidum inside. She has 2 kg of hay in a slow feeder (1” holes) for the night, she normally eat it within 1 or 2 hours. But she took this “no feed time” inside to lay down, so she spends more time eating when she’s out for the day, she still lay down outside, but a shorter time. The behaviour displayed with other horses when she’s out is pretty similar to when she’s 24/7 out. She also spends a bit of time interacting with her neighbour’s horse in her stall (pinned ears, kicking, sniffing, nose to nose touch, squealing).
I find her time budget perfect when she’s out 24/7. But when she’s in for the night I would love her to spend more time eating, the problem is, she’s an easy keeper who had 2 episodes of laminitis in her life so she needs to be kept slim. For now, it’s not really possible to give her more hay. I need to test if soaking the hay to remove some hydro soluble carbohydrates could help her access more hay without giving her too many calories.