• Norway edition
 
Horses asked how they prefer to stay warm
Knerten, a horse owned by Ida Nova, dressed in a specially knitted traditional Norwegian sweater. Photo: Ida Nova

Horses asked how they prefer to stay warm

Published: 04 Feb 2014 15:25 GMT+01:00

Grete Jørgensen, a researcher with the Norwegian Institute for Agricultural and Environmental Research, told The Local how her joint Norwegian-Swedish research project had hired a professional trainer to teach 13 horses, based at Nypan outside Trondheim, to request or refuse a warm, dry blanket.
 
"The horses soon learned, using positive reinforcement techniques, that if they want to change their situation -- either to remove a blanket or have one put on -- they should tap one symbol with their muzzle.  If they want to remain the same, they tapped on another,"  Jørgensen said. 
 
Most horses chose to keep their blankets on during days with wind, rain or sleet, with the number of horses requesting the removal of their blankets increasing as the temperature rose and spring brought sunny weather.
 
Jørgensen said her colleagues Knut Bøe and Cecilie Mejdell, who ran the Nypan project, aimed "to ask horses whether they really need these blankets and rugs or whether they preferred to use their own coats to regulate their body temperature in different weather."
 
Meanwhile, at a local horse farm on Alstahaug, an island off the coast of north west Norway, Jørgensen offered 16 horses the choice of a heated shelter, an unheated shelter, or staying outside.
 
"We wanted to investigate how horses from several different breeds would tackle different winter weather conditions," she explained. 
 
She found that the horses did not want to come inside the shelters when the weather was dry, even at very low winter temperatures. When there was rain or sleet, however, the horses were more likely to start muscle shivering or move inside. 
 
"The weather here up on the northern Norwegian coast is quite changeable, so you can have three seasons in one day, and rain and maybe sleet, which is really challenging for the horses to keep up their core body temperature," she said.
 
Certain Nordic breeds appeared capable of withstanding extreme cold even when it was wet.
 
"We actually have horses that even in the worst conditions never chose to go inside because the water never gets close to the skin," she explained. "Coat condition is very important and maybe even more important than breed. If the coat is really good, like on a Norwegian breed, then the coat has this cover layer which transports the water off the top of the coat so it never gets wet at the skin."
 
Jørgensen said that the project would help determine the extent to which the rugs and blankets commonly used in Norway and Sweden were actually helping the animals. 
 
"Many owners have no clue whether their horses need rugs and blankets, so they dress them up both indoors and in the paddock," she said.  "Too much use of rugs over time may produce sores and chaffing. The horse is not able to scratch in itchy places and the coat will not develop to its full length."
 
The joint Swedish-Norwegian project is titled "Impact of Nordic climate and management practices on thermoregulation in the horse". 
 
The Norwegian Project Group comprises Grete Jørgensen and Lise Aanensen from Bioforsk Nord Tjøtta, Knut Bøe from The Norwegian University of Life Sciences (NMBU), and Cecilie Mejdell from The Norwegian Veterinary Institute. The Project is financed through the Swedish-Norwegian Horse Research fund and the Norwegian Research Council. 
 
Abstracts or the research can be found here and here

The Local (news@thelocal.no)

Your comments about this article

Today's headlines
Hated dating coach cancels Oslo dates

Hated dating coach cancels Oslo dates

Controversial pick-up artist, Julien Blanc, who has been barred from entering several countries, has cancelled his plans to come to Norway, it was revealed on Thursday. READ  

Trouble flares at crunch soccer game in Norway
Brann and Mjøndalen compete in tense relegation tie. Photo: Terje Bendiksby / NTB scanpix

Trouble flares at crunch soccer game in Norway

Police had to deal with trouble from fans during a crunch relegation battle between Brann and home side Mjøndalen, on Wednesday evening, that led to the game being temporarily stopped. READ  

US Congress members move to block Norwegian
Bjørn Kjos, CEO of Norwegian Airlines, is fighting to get a permanent licence to operate flights out of the US. Photo: NTB scanpix

US Congress members move to block Norwegian

Growing numbers of US Congress members are moving to block Norwegian Airlines' pursuit of a permanent licence to run flights between Europe and America. READ  

Falling oil prices may cause new recession
Norway's consumers face an uncertain future. Photo: Sara Johannessen / scanpix

Falling oil prices may cause new recession

The worldwide fall in oil prices could mean Norway will move towards a new economic downturn, predict experts on Wednesday. READ  

False prophets: Fortune tellers jailed in Norway
Owners of a Norway firm which dealt in Tarot card readings were charged for fraud. Shutterstock

False prophets: Fortune tellers jailed in Norway

A company which provided customers with Tarot card readings and clairvoyant services has seen its owners charged with embezzlement and jailed, a court ruled on Tuesday. READ  

Putin praises Carlsen's 'genius' in Sochi
Vladimir Putin congratulates Magnus Carlsen in Sochi. Photo: Berit Roald / NTB scanpix

Putin praises Carlsen's 'genius' in Sochi

Vladimir Putin arrived fashionably late in Sochi to congratulate Norway's Magnus Carlsen after the Norwegian collected his title and prize money at the Chess World Championship closing ceremony, on Tuesday. READ  

Deadly Enterovirus D68 found in Norway
Norwegian medical authorities have issued health advice against the virus. Photo: Shutterstock

Deadly Enterovirus D68 found in Norway

Cases of the potentially deadly enterovirus D68 has been found in Norway, it was revealed on Tuesday. READ  

Norwegian seals get their own fat app
Photo: Shutterstock

Norwegian seals get their own fat app

Scientists in Norway are set to implant a technology, much like a smartphone app, into Arctic seals in an effort to study the animals' energy use and body weight, it was reported on Tuesday. READ  

Norway tops study of web-savvy countries
Photo: Shutterstock

Norway tops study of web-savvy countries

Norway has ranked as the sixth most connected country in the world and the fifth in Europe, said a recent study. READ  

Norway's risk of terror never greater: PST
Norway is set for a nervous festive period after latest terror warning. Photo: Berit Roald / NTB scanpix

Norway's risk of terror never greater: PST

It is more likely than ever a terror attack will strike Norway and police have responded by instructing its officers to carry weapons throughout the Christmas season, said PST on Tuesday. READ  

RECEIVE OUR NEWSLETTER AND ALERTS
Health
Norwegian Ebola victim free of virus
National
Kjell Inge Røkke tops Norway's Rich List
International
Surprise! Norway priciest for home comforts
National
Norway terror attacks to become TV drama
International
Malala: Youngest ever Nobel Peace Laureate
Society
Norwegian 'child bride' to marry in Oslo
Society
The fickle five: Meet the Nobel commitee
National
Norway celebrates 25 years of Sami politics
Business & Money
CurrencyFair: Why it pays when making overseas transfers
International
Norway best country for older people
Society
Queen Sonja of Norway's nephew jailed
National
Ex-Norway PM set to become head of Nobel
National
Muslim centre wanted on site of Munch Museum
International
Norway to send military staff in fight against IS
National
Father warns Breivik 'more extreme than ever'
Society
Norway's Princess of the Paranormal under fire
National
Four-year-old Norway girl sleepwalks 4km
National
Photo: Baby cliff edge shocker in Norway
Travel
Cruise line offers Northern Lights promise
National
10-tonne shark found dead off Norway coast
Culture
Britney to visit Norway for lingerie launch
International
'If Snowden wins Nobel Prize, arrest him!': MP
Culture
VIDEO: Swim ace does 'Pool Rubik's Challenge'
National
Norwegian man in 7,000 litre 'Ice Truck Challenge'
Society
Norwegian brewery pulls 'fart-smelling' beer
Sport
Ødegaard: Norway's youngest player ever
Features
Meet Norway's raining kings of fashion
National
Miracle cat survives 20 gunshots in Norway
National
Second death within hours at Chess Olympics
National
Norway and Sweden mark 200 years of peace
Culture
Interview: Helene Meldahl, selfie artist
Society
Now serving ... Norway's smallest bar
Travel
Floating Northern Lights hotel planned in Norway
National
Circus camel escapes again
National
Swiss bus driver charged with careless driving in fatal Norway crash
Society
Brit's charity tractor trek heads for Norway
National
Norway lifts Segway ban
Culture
GALLERY: Ten great songs about Norway
Society
Høie promises to reform sex change law
Education
Norway fjord invaded by monster jellyfish
Culture
VIDEO: Norwegian anti-Facebook film goes viral
Culture
Norway pop duo hits number 4 on US charts
Sport
Norway fan wins big on Suarez bite bet
Latest news from The Local in Austria

More news from Austria at thelocal.at

Latest news from The Local in Switzerland

More news from Switzerland at thelocal.ch

Latest news from The Local in Germany

More news from Germany at thelocal.de

Latest news from The Local in Denmark

More news from Denmark at thelocal.dk

Latest news from The Local in Spain

More news from Spain at thelocal.es

Latest news from The Local in France

More news from France at thelocal.fr

Latest news from The Local in Italy

More news from Italy at thelocal.it

Latest news from The Local in Sweden

More news from Sweden at thelocal.se

283
jobs available
The Local Spain is hiring!
The Local is seeking a new editor for our site in Spain to join our growing team of internationally-minded, driven, ambitious and clued-up journalists.
Details and how to apply