An investigation into the characteristics of a popular alternative management system for domestic horses: Implications of track systems for the welfare of horses in the UK and abroad

Project Details


Obesity is among the most pressing equine welfare issues in the UK. Weight management strategies often involve social isolation and restriction of both movement and forage intake with associated welfare implications. There is, therefore, a need for a new solution that facilitates species-normal behaviours while contributing positively towards physical health. More movement is suggested as this sought-after solution, focusing on energy expenditure, rather than solely intake, while enabling displays of motivated foraging and social behaviours. Alternative grazing systems, such as the track system are proposed methods of increasing movement whilst enabling normal foraging and social behaviours. However, it remains unclear if, and how, these systems affect horses and their welfare. This project will obtain the necessary data to answer these questions, thereby determining if track systems are a valid step towards improving the management of domestic horses.

The primary aims for the project are (i) to investigate current practices surrounding the implementation of track system management of domestic horses, and (ii) to identify key characteristics of existing track systems and the impacts of those variables on equid welfare.

While alternative management systems are gaining in popularity, generating increasing interest from both scientific and equestrian communities, research has yet to adequately quantify key parameters such as the amount of movement motivated by these systems, and their impact on welfare specifically obesity (and its comorbidities) and the potential for promotion of positive welfare.
Effective start/end date11/04/2210/04/23

UN Sustainable Development Goals

In 2015, UN member states agreed to 17 global Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) to end poverty, protect the planet and ensure prosperity for all. This project contributes towards the following SDG(s):

  • SDG 15 - Life on Land


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