Everything Horse Magazine August 2021 Issue 44 - Page 33
understanding his attitude will be much easier .
If your horse which you have owned for a while , sometimes behaves aggressively for no apparent reason , is disinterested in work or is generally unhappy with life , and you have ruled out health issues , try considering whether his routine is out of sync with his chronotype .
Lark or an Owl ?
Horses , like people , are either Larks or Owls . The Larks are early risers ; owls prefer to get up later but are full of energy from the afternoon until late at night . Larks perform at their peak in the morning ; this is when they are at their most energetic . An Owl ’ s performance will be at its best from the afternoon . When the routine for the horse is contrary to his chronotype , not only will his performance be affected , but his demeanour , behaviour and , over a period ,
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his health .
You cannot change your chronotype ; it is a genetic outcome . Recent research studies have gone a long way towards isolating the relevant genes . Many more studies are focusing on taking this research further .
Although , as far as I am aware , there have been no similar studies in horses , it is fairly likely that their chronotype is also genetic . Our own observations , profiling hundreds of horses , certainly indicate this .
What to do next
When all the more obvious reasons have been ruled out , discovering your horse ’ s chronotype is an excellent next step .
When you have discovered whether your horse is a Lark or an Owl , you can then consider whether his daily routine is suited to his chronotype or if it needs to be adjusted . For example , working an Owl at 6am will result in an unenthusiastic horse who cannot perform at his best early morning . Likewise , you can expect the same if you work your Lark at 7 pm . In addition , you will find that being out of sync with the horse ' s chronotype can result in a bad-tempered or depressed horse . Over time this can lead to stress-induced sleep deprivation .
If you would like to see a video of one of the horses that took part in our research into overnight behaviour , you will find it on our YouTube video channel , Horse Homes by Bloodstock . Her routine had been out of sync with her chronotype for more than a year . She was an Owl who became quiet , depressed and a chronic box-walker . Ultimately she suffered from sleep deprivation . The video was recorded after she had failed to experience paradoxical ( REM ) sleep for seven nights . •
If you would like our help to discover the chronotype of your horse or to carry out a full overnight behaviour analysis , email Liz at liz . newman @ horse-homes . com