Does Light Color Affect A Horse’s Willingness To Load On A Trailer?

Loading horses into a trailer can be stressful, especially if they are walking from a brightly lit area into a dark horse trailer. New research out of France indicates that specific trailer lights, at the correct brightness, can ease the transition from light to dark, reports The Horse.

The equine eye takes a significant amount of time to adjust to changes in light, reports The Horse. To help determine if lighting affected horse’s willingness to load, Dr. Claire Neveux, an equine behavior consultant and researcher with Ethonova, equipped trailers with LED lights of varying brightness. Researchers were able to adjust the whitness as well as the intensity of the light the bulbs emitted.

The scientists used 22 2- and 3-year-old French Trotting horses that were in race training; the horses had not traveled on a trailer since they were foals. The horses were asked to load into a two-horse, straight-load trailer in three different lighting conditions, all of which completely illuminated the interior of the trailer. The horses were also loaded in natural light. Twenty days elapsed between each test and common loading techniques were used, including halter pressure, food rewards for advancement and hindquarter pressure.

The scientists determined that horses had the lowest heart rate and showed the fewest negative responses when they loaded into a trailer lit to 4500 K and 50 percent flux. They loaded more readily and they exhibited less stress behaviors when the inside of the trailer was lighter. While inside the trailer, the horse’s heartrates dropped fastest when the horses had lights that were more yellow or blue.

The study teams notes that additional research could show how lighting affects equine stress levels and welfare in housing, performance and hospital settings.

Read more at The Horse.

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