Monitoring distances travelled by horses using GPS tracking collars
Version of Record online: 16 APR 2010
© 2010 The Authors. Journal compilation © 2010 Australian Veterinary Association
Australian Veterinary Journal
Volume 88, Issue 5, pages 176–181, May 2010
How to Cite
Hampson, B., Morton, J., Mills, P., Trotter, M., Lamb, D. and Pollitt, C. (2010), Monitoring distances travelled by horses using GPS tracking collars. Australian Veterinary Journal, 88: 176–181. doi: 10.1111/j.1751-0813.2010.00564.x
- Issue online: 16 APR 2010
- Version of Record online: 16 APR 2010
- (Accepted for publication 18 October 2009)
- feral horses;
- global positioning system (GPS);
- paddock design
Objective The aims of this work were to (1) develop a low-cost equine movement tracking collar based on readily available components, (2) conduct preliminary studies assessing the effects of both paddock size and internal fence design on the movements of domestic horses, with and without foals at foot, and (3) describe distances moved by mares and their foals. Additional monitoring of free-ranging feral horses was conducted to allow preliminary comparisons with the movement of confined domestic horses.
Procedures A lightweight global positioning system (GPS) data logger modified from a personal/vehicle tracker and mounted on a collar was used to monitor the movement of domestic horses in a range of paddock sizes and internal fence designs for 6.5-day periods.
Results In the paddocks used (0.8–16 ha), groups of domestic horses exhibited a logarithmic response in mean daily distance travelled as a function of increasing paddock size, tending asymptotically towards approximately 7.5 km/day. The distance moved by newborn foals was similar to their dams, with total distance travelled also dependent on paddock size. Without altering available paddock area, paddock design, with the exception of a spiral design, did not significantly affect mean daily distance travelled. Feral horses (17.9 km/day) travelled substantially greater mean daily distances than domestic horses (7.2 km/day in 16-ha paddock), even when allowing for larger paddock size.
Conclusions Horses kept in stables or small yards and paddocks are quite sedentary in comparison with their feral relatives. For a given paddock area, most designs did not significantly affect mean daily distance travelled.