Crowdfunding since 2010

How does body and personality of young horses raised in all-ages-herds develop? That is what we are studying!

The rearing conditions determine the further development of horses in life. We examine in an extraordinary stud how the endurance, gait, sociality and personality of horses develops in their first 6 years of life. The stud is extraordinary because all horses are kept in all-ages-herds on large pastures all year round and under regular contact with humans. Work under the saddle starts when the horses are 5 years old only.
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Funding period
7/15/18 - 8/17/18
September 2018
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Minimum amount (Start level): 6,000 €

The money will be used to pay for disposable material, travel and accommodation expenses.

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What is this project all about?

This project examines the development of young horses, reared in the stud Pferdeparadies Les Dannes, in France. There, horses live constantly in all-ages-herds of up to 80 animals in large hilly pastures. All-age-herds means that the horses are separated by gender (males and females/geldings) but not by age! The growing horses can develop their equine social competence and their bodies naturally – without constraints like in conventional rearing systems kept in single box isolation or small groups of horses of the same age and saddled at the age of 3 years, often even at the age of 2 years already. The Les Dannes management system allows the horses to mature their body and to develop their behaviour like in free-ranging horse herds while being regularly in contact with humans.
Equine surgeons, breeders, riding instructors, farriers, behaviourists that have visited Les Dannes are convinced that this rearing system is of great benefit for the horses and humans that will work together later. The young horses are physically and psychologically stable – fit for life!
This rearing system of sport horses is very different from the classical ones. In such systems, horses are reared alone or in small groups with the same age. Familiar social structures cannot develop and natural social interactions are limited or quite inexistent. Training of the young horses starts at the age of three years, often even at two years already. This type of management is convenient for the organisation and management of the work with the horses, but contradicts the natural behaviour of horses. This leads to horses with behavioural anomalies and organic deficits that impair their performance and health.

What is the project goal and who is the project for?

We like to know how well developed are endurance and gait of the young horses reared in the all-ages-herds at the time of their first saddling (5-years-old) and to observe the development of these physiological characteristics during the following year. The relationship of this development with behavioural parameters will be examined too.
From the results of the study we expect information showing that horses reared in all-ages-herds at least until the age of 6 years are mentally more balanced and easier to handle than horses reared under restricted conditions. This will allow to advice the equine industry about adaptations to improve the wellbeing of horses and their interaction with the humans. Simultaneously we will compare the endurance and gait quality of our horses with those of sport horses reared under other systems. We like to objectively determine whether the development of these physiological characteristics of the Les Dannes horses is equal or maybe even better than those of horses managed classically.
The project should interest all persons attentive to species-appropriate husbandry, in a trustful relation between humans and horses and value that horses have the chance to develop their own personality. Doubtless, all persons dealing professionally with horses, appreciating horses as partners and interested in the wellbeing of horses should engage in!

Why would you support this project?

The equine world is changing: using horses for sports and even for pleasure is nowadays often criticized by the public. Because of this, more and more persons turn towards alternative schooling and training methods. However, to be just to the horses used for sports and other activities, more objective information about their social and environmental requirements is needed. Such objective information will allow to reform official regulations and guidelines on the husbandry of horses only.

How will we use the money if the project is successfully funded?

The money will be used to pay for disposable material, travel and accommodation expenses.

Who are the people behind the project?

The Verein zur Förderung der Forschung im Pferdesport e.V. (Association for the promotion of research on sport horses) is a 30 years old association with very engaged members. Besides promoting research, the association organizes conferences and courses with top experts from science and practice to facilitate the transfer of information in both directions!
I, Arno Lindner, president of the association, am responsible for the project. Since almost 40 years I am doing research and working in the fields of performance diagnosis and training guidance of horses. Anna Brand, independent equine ambulatory veterinarian, assists me for the endurance and gait analysis tests. Odile Petit and her team at CNRS in Strasbourg, French National Centre for Scientific Research, care for the behaviour tests and the field observation of the horses in the hers. Finally, the owners of the stud, family Fuchs,, make sure that everything possible is available to perform the study on site.

Horse youth in the herd

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Verein zur Förderung der Forschung im Pferdesport e.V.
Arno Lindner
Heinrich-Roettgen-Str. 20
52428 Juelich Germany

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Horse youth in herds
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