Skip the header
No access
23 May 2022

Ingestion, Elimination and Comfort


This chapter focuses on behaviours that maintain physiological homeostasis, including ingestion, elimination and comfort in horses. The latter includes grooming (hair and skincare) and sheltering behaviours that support thermoregulation and provide refuge from biting insects.

Get full access to this article

View all available purchase options and get full access to this chapter.


Autio E., Neste R., Airaksinen S. and Heiskanen M.-L. (2006) Measuring the heat loss in horses in different seasons by infrared thermography. Journal of Applied Animal Welfare Science 9, 211–221.
Azarpeycan S., Dittmer K.E., Gee E.K., Marshall J.C., Wallace J. et al. (2016) Influence of blanketing and season on vitamin D and parathyroid hormone, calcium, phosphorus, and magnesium concentrations in horses in New Zealand. Domestic Animal Endocrinology 56, 75–84.
Beaver B.V. (2019) Equine Behavioral Medicine . Academic Press, London.
Bertolucci L.F. (2011) Pandiculation: Nature’s way of maintaining the functional integrity of the myofascial system? Journal of Bodywork and Movement Therapies 15, 268–280.
Bocian K., Strezelec K., Janczarek I., Jabłecki Z. and Kolstrung R. (2017) Length of winter coat in horses depending on husbandry conditions. Animal Science Journal 88, 339–346.
Boyd L.E., Carbonaro D.A. and Houpt K.A. (1988) The 24-hour time budget of Przewalski horses. Applied Animal Behaviour Science 21, 5–17.
Clayton H.M., Kaiser L.J. and Nauwelaerts S. (2010) Pressure on the horse’s withers with three styles of blanket. The Veterinary Journal 184, 52–55.
Crowell-Davis S.L. (1987) Self-grooming by mares and foals of the Welsh pony (Equus caballus). Applied Animal Behavioural Science 17, 197–208.
Ellis, A.D, Redgate S., Zinchenko S., Owen H., Barfoot C. et al. (2015) The effect of presenting forage in multi-layered haynets and at multiple sites on night-time budgets of stabled horses. Applied Animal Behavioural Science 171, 108–116.
Fleurance G., Duncan P., Fritz H., Cabaret J., Cortet J. et al. (2007) Selection of feeding sites by horses at pasture: Testing the anti-parasite theory. Applied Animal Behaviour Science 108, 288–301.
Fraser A.F. (1980) Farm Animal Behaviour . Bailliere Tindall, London.
Fraser A.F. (1989) Pandiculation: The comparative phenomenon of systematic stretching. Applied Animal Behaviour Science 23, 263–268.
Fraser A.F. (2010) The Behaviour and Welfare of the Horse . 2nd edn. CAB International, Wallingford, UK.
Geor R.J. (2013) Appendix: Nutritional requirements, recommendations and example diets In: Geor R.J. (ed.) Equine Applied Clinical Nutrition: Health, Welfare and Performance . Saunders, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, pp. 639–658.
Giannetto C., Cannallla V., Guidice E., Guerico A. and Piccione G. (2019) Behavioral and physiological processes in horses and their linkage with peripheral clock gene expression: A preliminary study. Journal of Veterinary Behaviour 34, 37–41.
Giraldeau L.-A. and Caraco T. (2000) Social Foraging Theory . Princeton University Press, Princeton, NJ.
Hammer C. and Gunklemam M. (2019) Effect of different blanket weights on surface temperature of horses in cold climates. Journal of Equine Veterinary Science 85, 102848.
Hartmann E., Hopkins R.J., von Brömssen C. and Dahlborn K. (2015a) 24-h sheltering behaviour of individually kept horses during Swedish summer weather. Acta Veterinaria Scandinavica 57, 45.
Hartmann E., Hopkins R.J., Blomgren E., Ventorp M., von Brömssen C. and Dahlborn K. (2015b) Daytime shelter use of individually kept horses during Swedish summer. Journal of Animal Science 93, 802–810.
Hoffman C.J., Costa L.R. and Freeman L.M. (2009) Survey of feeding practices, supplement use, and knowledge of equine nutrition among a subpopulation of horse owners in New England. Journal of Equine Veterinary Science 29, 719–726.
Hogan J.A. (2005) Motivation. In: Bolhuis J.J. and Giraldeau L.A. (eds) The Behaviour of Animals . Blackwell, Malden, Maryland, pp. 41–70.
Hoskin S.O. and Gee E.K. (2004) Feeding value of pastures for horses. New Zealand Veterinary Journal 6, 332–341.
Ingolfsdottir H.B. and Sigurjonsdottir H. (2008) The benefits of high rank in the wintertime – a study of the Icelandic horse. Applied Animal Behaviour Science 114, 485–491.
Jezierski T., Jaworski Z., Sobcyńska M., Ensminger J. and Górecka-Bruzda A. (2018) Do olfactory behaviour and marking responses of Konik polski stallions to faeces from conspecifics of either sex differ? Behavioural Processes 155, 38–42.
Jørgensen G.H.M., Medjell C.M. and Bøe K.N. (2019) The effect of blankets on horse behaviour and preference for shelter in Nordic winter conditions . Applied Animal Behaviour Science 218, 104822.
Keiper R.R. and Berger J. (1982) Refuge-seeking and pest avoidance by feral horses in desert and island environments. Applied Animal Ethology 90, 111–120.
Kimura R. (1998) Mutual grooming and preferred associate relationships in a band of free-ranging horses. Applied Animal Behaviour Science 59, 265–276.
Kristula M.A. and McDonnell S.M. (1994) Drinking water temperature affects consumption of water during cold weather in ponies. Applied Animal Behaviour Science 41, 155–160.
Krueger K. and Flauger B. (2011) Olfactory recognition of individual competitors by means of faeces in horse (Equus caballus). Animal Cognition 14, 245–257.
La Casha P.A., Brady H.A., Allen V.G., Richardson C.R. and Pond K.R. (1999) Voluntary intake, digestibility, and subsequent selection of Matua bromegrass, coastal bermudagrass, and alfalfa hays by yearling horses. Journal of Animal Science 77, 2766–2773.
Lamoot I., Callebaut J., Degazelle T., Demeulenaere E., Laquiére J. et al. (2004) Eliminative behaviour of free-ranging horses: Do they show latrine behaviour or do they defecate where they graze? Applied Animal Behaviour Science 86, 105–121.
Lindberg J.E. (2013) Feedstuffs for horses. In: Geor R.J. (ed.) Equine Applied Clinical Nutrition: Health, Welfare and Performance . Saunders, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, pp. 319–331.
Lopes M.A.F. (2008) Effects of feeding on equine gastrointestinal function or physiology. In: White N.A., Moore J.N. and Mair T.S. (eds). The Equine Acute Abdomen . Teton NewMedia, Jackson, Wyoming.
Lopes M.A.F. and Johnson P.J. (2017) Effects of feeding on equine gastrointestinal function or physiology. In: Blikslager A.T, White II, N.A., Moore J.N. and Mair T.S. (eds). The Equine Acute Abdomen , 3rd edn. John Wiley and Sons Inc., Hoboken, New Jersey.
Maisonpierre I.N., Sutton M.A., Harris P., Menzies-Gow N., Weller R. et al. (2019) Accelerometer activity tracking in horses and the effect of pasture management on time budget. Equine Veterinary Journal 51, 840–845.
Marinier S.L., Alexander A.J. and Waring G.H. (1988) Flehmen behavior in the domestic horse: discrimination of conspecific odours. Applied Animal Behaviour Science 19, 227–237.
Matsui K., Kahlil A.M. and Takeda K. (2009) Do horses prefer certain substrates for rolling in grazing pasture? Journal of Equine Veterinary Science 29, 590–594.
McBride S.D., Hemmings A. and Robinson K. (2004) A preliminary study on the effect of massage to reduce stress in the horse. Journal of Equine Veterinary Science 24, 76–81.
McCue M.E., Geor R.J. and Schultz N. (2015) Equine metabolic syndrome: a complex disease influenced by genetics and the environment. Journal of Equine Veterinary Science 35, 367–375.
McDonnell S. (1986) Reproductive behavior of the stallion. Veterinary Clinics of North America: Equine Practice 2, 535–555.
McDonnell S.M. and Kristula M.A. (1996) No effect of drinking water temperature (ambient vs. chilled) on consumption of water during hot summer weather in ponies. Applied Animal Behaviour Science 49, 159–153.
Mejdell C.M., Jørgensen G.H.M., Buvik T., Torp T. and Bøe K.E. (2019) The effect of weather conditions on the preference in horses for wearing blankets. Applied Animal Behaviour Science 212, 52–57.
Morgan K., Funkquist P. and Nyman G. (2002) The effect of coat clipping on thermoregulation during intense exercise in trotters. Equine Veterinary Journal Supplement 34, 564–569.
Mullan S., Szmaragd C., Hotchkiss J. and Whay H.R. (2014) The welfare of long-line tethered and free-ranging horses kept on public grazing land in South Wales. Animal Welfare 23, 25–37.
Müller, C.E. and Udén P. (2006) Preference of horses for grass conserved as hay, haylage or silage. Animal Feed Science and Technology 132, 66–70.
Ödberg F.O. and Frances-Smith K. (1977) Studies on the formation of ungrazed eliminative areas in the field used by horses. Applied Animal Ethology 3, 27–34.
Peters S.M., Bleijenberg E. H. van Dierendonck M.C., van der Harst J.E. and Spruijt B.M. (2012) Characterization of anticipatory behaviour in domesticated horses (Equus caballus). Applied Animal Behaviour Science 138, 60–69.
Pluhác�ek J., Tuc�ková V., King S.R.B., and Šárová R. (2019) Test of four hypotheses to explain the function of overmarking in foals of four equids species. Animal Cognition 22, 231–241.
Proops L., Osthaus B., Bell N., Long S., Hayday K. et al. (2019) Shelter-seeking behavior of donkeys and horses in a temperate climate. Journal of Veterinary Behavior 32, 16–23.
Randall L., Rogers C.W., Hoskin S.O., Morel P.C. and Swainson N.M. (2014) Preference for different pasture grasses by horses in New Zealand. Proceedings of the New Zealand Society of Animal Production 74, 79–84.
Rho J.R., Srygley R.B. and Choe J.C. (2007) Sex preferences in Jeju pony foals (Equus caballus) for mutual grooming and play fighting behaviours. Zoological Science 24, 769–773.
Rogers C.W., Gee K.E., Back P., van Zon S., Hirst R.L. et al. (2018) Pasture use and management in commercial equine production systems. New Zealand Journal of Animal Science and Production 78, 40–44.
Sauvant D., Perez J.M. and Tran G. (2004). Tables of Composition and Nutritional Value of Feed Materials . Wageningen Academic Publishers, The Netherlands.
Schöning B. (2008) Horse Behaviour . 5M Publishing, Sheffield, UK.
Sigurjónsdóttir H. and Haraldsson H. (2019) Significance of group composition for the welfare of pastured horses. Animals 9, 14.
Snoeks M.G., Moons C.P.H., Ödberg F.O., Aviron M. and Geers R. (2015) Behavior of horses on pasture in relation to weather and shelter - A field study in a temperate climate. Journal of Veterinary Behavior 10, 561–568.
Steinhoff-Wagner J. (2019) Coat clipping of horses: A survey. Journal of Applied Animal Welfare Science 22, 171–187.
Sufit E., Houpt K.A. and Sweeting M. (1985) Physiological stimuli of thirst and drinking patterns in ponies. Equine Veterinary Journal 17, 12–16.
Sweeting M.P., Houpt C.E. and Houpt K.A. (1985) Social facilitation of feeding and time budgets in stabled ponies. Journal of Animal Science 60, 369–374.
Thompson K.R., Clarkson L., Riley C.B. and van den Berg M. (2017) Horse-keeping practices in Australia: findings from a national online survey of horse owners. Australian Veterinary Journal 95, 437–443.
Toates F. (2002) Physiology, motivation and the organization of behaviour. In: Jensen P. (ed.) Ethology of Domestic Animals: An Introduction . CAB International, Wallingford, UK.
Tućková V., Šárová R., Bartšová J., King S.R.B. and Pluháćek J. (2018) Overmarking by adult females in four equids species: social bonds and group cohesion. Journal of Zoology 306, 180–188.
Van Dierendonck M.C. and Spruijt B.M. (2012) Coping in groups of domestic horses - Review from a social and neurobiological perspective. Applied Animal Behaviour Science 138, 194–202.
Wallace J.C. and Vogelnest L.J. (2010) Evaluation of the presence of house dust mites in horse rugs. Veterinary Dermatology 21, 602–607.
Wilson A.D. (2014) Immune responses to ectoparasites of horses, with a focus on insect bite hypersensitivity. Parasite Immunology 36, 560–572.

Information & Authors


Published In

Pages: 61 - 80
Editors: Christopher B Riley, Massey University, New Zealand, Sharon E Cregier, University of Prince Edward Island, Canada and North American Editor Emerita, Equine Behaviour, and Andrew Fraser, formerly Memorial University of Newfoundland, Canada
ISBN (ePDF): 978-1-78924-212-6
ISBN (ePUB): 978-1-78924-213-3
ISBN (hardback): 978-1-78924-210-2
ISBN (paperback): 978-1-78924-211-9


Cover date: 17 May 2022
Published online: 23 May 2022





Christopher B. Riley, BVSc (Hons), PhD, Diplomate ACVS


*Corresponding author: [email protected]

Metrics & Citations





Export citation

Select the format you want to export the citations of this publication.


View Options

Get Access

Login Options

Restore your content access

Enter your email address to restore your content access:

Note: This functionality works only for purchases done as a guest. If you already have an account, log in to access the content to which you are entitled.

View options


View PDF

Full Text

View Full Text







Copy the content Link

Share on social media

Related Articles

Skip the navigation