Researchers at the University of Rennes in France recently conducted a study that involved 184 horses at 22 French riding schools. Horses in the study encompassed a variety of breeds, and all were stabled in stalls. Some spent no time in turnout, while others had as much as 12 hours or more of daily turnout.
The study found that riding horses with more turnout time display better behavior and are easier to handle than those confined to a stall. Horses that spent more time outside were “less reactive” and displayed “less emotive,” calmer attitudes during a series of four tests than those horses that spent all or most of their time in a stall. Researchers concluded that while it’s important to assess an individual horse’s temperament and characteristics, housing also has a direct effect on horse behavior.