How does a horse spend its time?
Horses in their natural state rarely go for more than three and a half hours without eating. They spend more than 60% of their time grazing and walking simultaneously. Horses are herbivores, with a varied diet: mostly grass, but also leaves, berries, moss and bark.
Males have 40 teeth and females generally have 36. Their incisors enable them to eat even very short grass.
The horses live in a home range where they find everything they need: their peers, water, food, shelter, etc. This may be shared with other families: horses are not territorial animals.
Between 4 to 8% of their day is spent moving, mostly at walking speed and in single file, between the various areas of interest.
The horses shape their environment and create trails by always using the same route.
Rest, whether standing or lying, takes between 20 to 30% of a horse’s day. Rest periods are broken down into 30-60 minute cycles, particularly as a result of the horses’ significant body mass, which leads, over time, to their internal organs being compressed. REM sleep, when horses sleep profoundly and develop dreams, can only take place when the horse is lying down.
Horses devote 4 to 8% of their day to monitoring their environment. If anything suspicious is identified, the horse will signal it to the group by using an alert posture and making sound signals.
The stallion spends more time observing than the mares: he looks out for any potential dangers and potential competitors.
What about the remaining time?
The remaining time is devoted to social behavior, reproduction and what are known as maintenance behaviors: urinating, defecating, scratching, rolling, drinking, etc.
Texts by Déborah Bardou and Hélène Roche, ethologists – Photos Hélène Roche