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
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.
www.ffp-ev.de (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 www.agpferd.com, 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 https://www.researchgate.net/profile/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, http://lesdannes.com/, make sure that everything possible is available to perform the study on site.