Majecka, K., & Klawe, A. (2018). Influence of Paddock Size on Social Relationships in Domestic Horses. Journal of Applied Animal Welfare Science, 21(1), 8-16.
The aim of this study was to explore whether the size of paddocks affected social interactions within a group of horses. Furthermore, the effects of the gender composition in groups on social behavior were investigated. The research was done in a horse-riding center. A total of 78 horses and ponies, forming 3 groups, were included in the study. The time of the observation was divided into 2 periods. The data obtained from the 1st period (the horses were on relatively small paddocks) and the 2nd period (the paddocks were significantly bigger) were compared. The findings uniformly indicated that an enlargement of grass paddocks resulted in a significant decline in the number of social interactions, both agonistic and play types, in all studied herds. A likely principal reason for a change in the number of social interactions seems to be feeding management and how it changed between seasons, rather than paddock size. No effect of group composition on social interaction was found in terms of aggressive interaction, and only 1 group differed regarding friendly interaction.
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