Effects of a light-colored cotton rug use on horse thermoregulation and behavior indicators of stress

Barbara Padalino, Jaymie Loy, Lesley Hawson, Hayley Randle

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

1 Citation (Scopus)

Abstract

When environmental temperatures exceed 25°C, horses are potentially subjected to thermal stress. It has therefore been recommended that horses should be provided with shade during hot days. However, this is not possible for horses grazing on many Australian rural properties. Although the positive effect that solar radiation blocking can have on reducing heat absorption is understood by some, conflicting views, mostly anecdotal, exist on the use of a light cotton rug on horses for this purpose. The aim of this pilot study was to examine the effects of wearing a light-colored cotton rug on horse heart rate (HR), respiratory rate (RR), rectal temperature (RT), sweat production, and selected stress-related behaviors. Data were collected for 2 groups of university-owned horses (n = 8 and 10, respectively). The horses were tied in an outdoor arena in direct sunlight for 2 hours on 2 different days (D1 and D2). Baseline behavioral and physiological data (T0) were noted, recording frequency (n/10 min) of tail swishing, licking-chewing, pawing, repeated head movements, and self-care and recording HR, RR, RT, and sweat production using a sweat score (0 = none to 5 = excessive). Half of the horses were then fitted with a light cotton rug, and all horses were observed and monitored at regular 15-minute intervals for a further 2 hours (T1-T8). The effect of repetition (D1 and D2) and time (T0-T8) was not significant; therefore, the data were combined and analyzed using the Mann-Whitney U-test with rug (rugged/unrugged) as the independent variable. RT and sweat score were significantly lower in unrugged horses compared to rugged horses (37.4 ± 0.3 vs. 37.7 ± 0.3°C; 0.5 ± 0.8 vs. 1.9 ± 1.3, respectively; P < 0.001). However, unrugged horses showed a significantly higher frequency of tail swishing and pawing (23.1 ± 25.9 vs. 8.7 ± 11.0 n/10 min; P < 0.001; 9.4 ± 21.2 vs. 5.8 ± 17.4 n/10 min; P = 0.018). Although wearing a rug did not have an effect on the other parameters, it is worth noting that HR, RR, and the occurrence of stress-related behaviors were higher than normal values for equids, suggesting that horses were potentially prone to discomfort. Overall, it appears that the use of light-colored cotton rugs may help reduce the irritation caused to horses by flying insects as evidenced by less tail swishing but may also lead to an increase in internal temperature and subsequently sweat production, increasing the risk of thermal stress and loss of electrolytes. Wearing a rug is not an adequate substitute for the provision of shade when ambient temperatures exceed 25°C.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)134-139
Number of pages6
JournalJournal of Veterinary Behavior
Volume29
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 01 Jan 2019

Fingerprint

home furnishings
Body Temperature Regulation
thermoregulation
Horses
cotton
horses
sweat
Sweat
Temperature
Respiratory Rate
respiratory rate
Tail
heart rate
tail
Hot Temperature
Heart Rate
thermal stress
shade
ambient temperature
solar radiation

Cite this

@article{313b24d0ff494671a2b7e75f3f2f3bec,
title = "Effects of a light-colored cotton rug use on horse thermoregulation and behavior indicators of stress",
abstract = "When environmental temperatures exceed 25°C, horses are potentially subjected to thermal stress. It has therefore been recommended that horses should be provided with shade during hot days. However, this is not possible for horses grazing on many Australian rural properties. Although the positive effect that solar radiation blocking can have on reducing heat absorption is understood by some, conflicting views, mostly anecdotal, exist on the use of a light cotton rug on horses for this purpose. The aim of this pilot study was to examine the effects of wearing a light-colored cotton rug on horse heart rate (HR), respiratory rate (RR), rectal temperature (RT), sweat production, and selected stress-related behaviors. Data were collected for 2 groups of university-owned horses (n = 8 and 10, respectively). The horses were tied in an outdoor arena in direct sunlight for 2 hours on 2 different days (D1 and D2). Baseline behavioral and physiological data (T0) were noted, recording frequency (n/10 min) of tail swishing, licking-chewing, pawing, repeated head movements, and self-care and recording HR, RR, RT, and sweat production using a sweat score (0 = none to 5 = excessive). Half of the horses were then fitted with a light cotton rug, and all horses were observed and monitored at regular 15-minute intervals for a further 2 hours (T1-T8). The effect of repetition (D1 and D2) and time (T0-T8) was not significant; therefore, the data were combined and analyzed using the Mann-Whitney U-test with rug (rugged/unrugged) as the independent variable. RT and sweat score were significantly lower in unrugged horses compared to rugged horses (37.4 ± 0.3 vs. 37.7 ± 0.3°C; 0.5 ± 0.8 vs. 1.9 ± 1.3, respectively; P < 0.001). However, unrugged horses showed a significantly higher frequency of tail swishing and pawing (23.1 ± 25.9 vs. 8.7 ± 11.0 n/10 min; P < 0.001; 9.4 ± 21.2 vs. 5.8 ± 17.4 n/10 min; P = 0.018). Although wearing a rug did not have an effect on the other parameters, it is worth noting that HR, RR, and the occurrence of stress-related behaviors were higher than normal values for equids, suggesting that horses were potentially prone to discomfort. Overall, it appears that the use of light-colored cotton rugs may help reduce the irritation caused to horses by flying insects as evidenced by less tail swishing but may also lead to an increase in internal temperature and subsequently sweat production, increasing the risk of thermal stress and loss of electrolytes. Wearing a rug is not an adequate substitute for the provision of shade when ambient temperatures exceed 25°C.",
keywords = "cotton rug, equine, thermal stress, thermoregulation, welfare",
author = "Barbara Padalino and Jaymie Loy and Lesley Hawson and Hayley Randle",
year = "2019",
month = "1",
day = "1",
doi = "10.1016/j.jveb.2019.02.001",
language = "English",
volume = "29",
pages = "134--139",
journal = "Journal of Veterinary Behavior: clinical applications and research",
issn = "1558-7878",
publisher = "Elsevier",

}

Effects of a light-colored cotton rug use on horse thermoregulation and behavior indicators of stress. / Padalino, Barbara; Loy, Jaymie; Hawson, Lesley; Randle, Hayley.

In: Journal of Veterinary Behavior, Vol. 29, 01.01.2019, p. 134-139.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

TY - JOUR

T1 - Effects of a light-colored cotton rug use on horse thermoregulation and behavior indicators of stress

AU - Padalino, Barbara

AU - Loy, Jaymie

AU - Hawson, Lesley

AU - Randle, Hayley

PY - 2019/1/1

Y1 - 2019/1/1

N2 - When environmental temperatures exceed 25°C, horses are potentially subjected to thermal stress. It has therefore been recommended that horses should be provided with shade during hot days. However, this is not possible for horses grazing on many Australian rural properties. Although the positive effect that solar radiation blocking can have on reducing heat absorption is understood by some, conflicting views, mostly anecdotal, exist on the use of a light cotton rug on horses for this purpose. The aim of this pilot study was to examine the effects of wearing a light-colored cotton rug on horse heart rate (HR), respiratory rate (RR), rectal temperature (RT), sweat production, and selected stress-related behaviors. Data were collected for 2 groups of university-owned horses (n = 8 and 10, respectively). The horses were tied in an outdoor arena in direct sunlight for 2 hours on 2 different days (D1 and D2). Baseline behavioral and physiological data (T0) were noted, recording frequency (n/10 min) of tail swishing, licking-chewing, pawing, repeated head movements, and self-care and recording HR, RR, RT, and sweat production using a sweat score (0 = none to 5 = excessive). Half of the horses were then fitted with a light cotton rug, and all horses were observed and monitored at regular 15-minute intervals for a further 2 hours (T1-T8). The effect of repetition (D1 and D2) and time (T0-T8) was not significant; therefore, the data were combined and analyzed using the Mann-Whitney U-test with rug (rugged/unrugged) as the independent variable. RT and sweat score were significantly lower in unrugged horses compared to rugged horses (37.4 ± 0.3 vs. 37.7 ± 0.3°C; 0.5 ± 0.8 vs. 1.9 ± 1.3, respectively; P < 0.001). However, unrugged horses showed a significantly higher frequency of tail swishing and pawing (23.1 ± 25.9 vs. 8.7 ± 11.0 n/10 min; P < 0.001; 9.4 ± 21.2 vs. 5.8 ± 17.4 n/10 min; P = 0.018). Although wearing a rug did not have an effect on the other parameters, it is worth noting that HR, RR, and the occurrence of stress-related behaviors were higher than normal values for equids, suggesting that horses were potentially prone to discomfort. Overall, it appears that the use of light-colored cotton rugs may help reduce the irritation caused to horses by flying insects as evidenced by less tail swishing but may also lead to an increase in internal temperature and subsequently sweat production, increasing the risk of thermal stress and loss of electrolytes. Wearing a rug is not an adequate substitute for the provision of shade when ambient temperatures exceed 25°C.

AB - When environmental temperatures exceed 25°C, horses are potentially subjected to thermal stress. It has therefore been recommended that horses should be provided with shade during hot days. However, this is not possible for horses grazing on many Australian rural properties. Although the positive effect that solar radiation blocking can have on reducing heat absorption is understood by some, conflicting views, mostly anecdotal, exist on the use of a light cotton rug on horses for this purpose. The aim of this pilot study was to examine the effects of wearing a light-colored cotton rug on horse heart rate (HR), respiratory rate (RR), rectal temperature (RT), sweat production, and selected stress-related behaviors. Data were collected for 2 groups of university-owned horses (n = 8 and 10, respectively). The horses were tied in an outdoor arena in direct sunlight for 2 hours on 2 different days (D1 and D2). Baseline behavioral and physiological data (T0) were noted, recording frequency (n/10 min) of tail swishing, licking-chewing, pawing, repeated head movements, and self-care and recording HR, RR, RT, and sweat production using a sweat score (0 = none to 5 = excessive). Half of the horses were then fitted with a light cotton rug, and all horses were observed and monitored at regular 15-minute intervals for a further 2 hours (T1-T8). The effect of repetition (D1 and D2) and time (T0-T8) was not significant; therefore, the data were combined and analyzed using the Mann-Whitney U-test with rug (rugged/unrugged) as the independent variable. RT and sweat score were significantly lower in unrugged horses compared to rugged horses (37.4 ± 0.3 vs. 37.7 ± 0.3°C; 0.5 ± 0.8 vs. 1.9 ± 1.3, respectively; P < 0.001). However, unrugged horses showed a significantly higher frequency of tail swishing and pawing (23.1 ± 25.9 vs. 8.7 ± 11.0 n/10 min; P < 0.001; 9.4 ± 21.2 vs. 5.8 ± 17.4 n/10 min; P = 0.018). Although wearing a rug did not have an effect on the other parameters, it is worth noting that HR, RR, and the occurrence of stress-related behaviors were higher than normal values for equids, suggesting that horses were potentially prone to discomfort. Overall, it appears that the use of light-colored cotton rugs may help reduce the irritation caused to horses by flying insects as evidenced by less tail swishing but may also lead to an increase in internal temperature and subsequently sweat production, increasing the risk of thermal stress and loss of electrolytes. Wearing a rug is not an adequate substitute for the provision of shade when ambient temperatures exceed 25°C.

KW - cotton rug

KW - equine

KW - thermal stress

KW - thermoregulation

KW - welfare

UR - http://www.scopus.com/inward/record.url?scp=85061362043&partnerID=8YFLogxK

UR - http://www.scopus.com/inward/citedby.url?scp=85061362043&partnerID=8YFLogxK

U2 - 10.1016/j.jveb.2019.02.001

DO - 10.1016/j.jveb.2019.02.001

M3 - Article

VL - 29

SP - 134

EP - 139

JO - Journal of Veterinary Behavior: clinical applications and research

JF - Journal of Veterinary Behavior: clinical applications and research

SN - 1558-7878

ER -