University of Minnesota Extension
http://www.extension.umn.edu/
612-624-1222
Menu Menu

Extension > Agriculture > Livestock > Horse > Research updates > Shelter use by horses

Shelter use by horses

Shelter access is important in snowy, windy conditions.

Summarized by Krishona Martinson, PhD, University of Minnesota

Have you ever watched your horse on a cold winter day and wondered why they were not in their shelter? Researcher Dr. Camie Heleski at Michigan State University recently researched this question.

She examined daytime shelter-seeking behavior in domestic horses housed outdoors, and studied the relationship of temperature, precipitation, and wind speed with shelter-seeking behavior. Sixty Arabian and draft horses were observed. Horses were divided among 8 pastures containing sheds. During a 12-month period, over 5,000 visual observations of shelter use were recorded. At each observation, researchers noted whether or not a shed was being used. At each sampling time, weather conditions and whether each horse was standing or lying inside or next to shelters were recorded.

Shelter usage ranged from a low of <10% of observations in many weather conditions to a high of 62% of observations when it was snowing and wind speed were greater than 11 mph. When wind was greater than 5 mph, there was a significant effect of both rain and snow on shelter usage, that is, more horses used shelters in snowy or rainy, breezy conditions.

Though overall shelter usage was typically <10%, it appears that shelter access is very important in certain weather conditions.

  • © 2014 Regents of the University of Minnesota. All rights reserved.
  • The University of Minnesota is an equal opportunity educator and employer. Privacy