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Claire Neveux and others investigated how lighting inside a trailer can affect the horse's experience, especially during loading and when the trailer is stationary. They found that having consistent and bright LED lighting inside the trailer can make a difference.
In their study, they used a specially designed trailer with adjustable LED lights. They tested this setup with twenty young trotter horses who were relatively new to travelling and loading. They had them load into the trailer multiple times, (“Loading Phase”). After loading, the horses remained in the stationary trailer for two minutes with the experimenter. (“Stationary phase”).
The research team used varying lighting conditions in the trailer, which included different levels of brightness and temperature, such as warm white light (3000K), neutral white light (4500K), and cold white light (6300K) generated by LED lighting. To evaluate how these distinct lighting conditions influenced the horses' reactions, the research team closely monitored the horses' behaviour and documented their heart rates.
Among their findings were that horses expressed fewer stress-related behaviours and loaded faster when there was a high light level inside the trailer.
In addition, heart rate recovered more quickly when horses were loaded and kept under artificial white light LED lighting in a stationary trailer.
However, they stress that many factors, including the horse’s environment, its personality and past experience affect the horses’ response to loading in a trailer.
A full report of the work is published in Applied Animal Behaviour Science.
For more details, see:
Effects of different LED lighting conditions on young horses during trailer loading and stationary confinement
Claire Neveux, Marion Ferard, Emmanuel Melac, Nicolas Pousset
Applied Animal Behaviour Science (2023) Vol 261, 105885