Stable StressBack




The welfare implications of stabling horses.

A literature review of the implications of stabling horses with particular reference to welfare, stress, stereotypies and health problems.

Project submitted to Warwickshire College in partial fulfilment of the requirements for the degree of BA (Hons) in Equine Studies 1998.




The subject of this study was the welfare implications of stabling horses and the method used was a literature review.  The aim was to bring together previously unlinked research into all aspects of the relationship between a horse’s welfare and its man-made environment.  The discussion examines what is meant by welfare, deals with current establishment practices and how they conflict with the horse’s needs, then reviews different ways in which the welfare of a horse is diminished in a stable.  It shows that stereotypies are by far the most important of these. 

The main findings were that stabling has been widely known for a long time to have a detrimental affect on the welfare of the horse.  The recommendations for the future are that this message must be got across.  The welfare bodies should take up the cause and horse owners everywhere should reconsider the environment they have provided for their horses and see if they can be improved.

It was concluded that the stabling of horses is detrimental to their physical and psychological well being and is therefore a welfare issue.



I believe that the horse is a beautiful animal that we love and admire.  In his natural habitat he roams free, eating when he wants, going where he wants, being with whom he wants and doing what he wants.  So what do we do with this animal - put him in a 12m2 stable, deprive him of fresh air, tell him what and when he should eat, and deprive him of company or put him next to horses he may not have necessarily chosen himself for companions.  Almost every aspect of the horse’s management has to be manipulated to provide us with the fastest horse or the horse that can jump the highest.  Is this right?  Does it do any harm to the horse?  I chose to find out.


Index to pages...                                                                                   

1.      Introduction                                                                                  

2.    Equine husbandry

3.      What horses want                                                                                   

4.      Welfare                                                                                        

5.      Stress                                                                                                      

6.      Stereotypies                                                                                            

7.      Physical health                                                                                        

8.      Research                                                                                                 

9.      The future                                                                                                

10.  Conclusion                                                                                                 

11. References