Recovery time is an essential part of training necessary to achieve maximum performance.

Recovery allows the body to heal, repairing and strengthening muscles and replenishing lost energy. Top athletes should carefully manage their recovery period so their bodies are optimally prepared for the next exertion. In the equestrian sports, we don’t only manage our own recovery period, but also that of our equine counterparts. While we are free to choose how we spend our time, our horses are limited to the spaces we provide for them. The recovery time of the sport horse is largely spent in the stable. Currently it is unclear what exactly happens with the sport horse’s body during the time it spends in the stable.

The goal of this project is to give a detailed insight into the recovery period of the horse in the stable. This period can be split into two aspects, active recovery and passive recovery. Passive recovery encompasses the time a horse doesn’t undertake any actions, such as sleeping, while active recovery comprises of all activities a horse carries out for relaxation purposes, this entails the horse’s natural behaviors. Due to the restricted space that we provide for our horses, the natural behavior a horse can carry out are limited to a certain extent. In order to optimize the recovery time for the sport horse, we must research which (human) interventions impact the recovery of the horse in the stable.

This project is the first step towards the development of a ‘smart stable’. With the use of camera’s and sensors installed in the stable, horse behavior can be observed in great detail. On top of this, with the use of technological systems we can measure and control the climate in the stable. Factors such as air quality, ventilation, and temperature can significantly influence performance and recovery of the horse. We learn from techniques such as precision livestock farming that already have years of experience in real-time animal monitoring to improve health, welfare, and environment impact. Through monitoring the horse in the stable we can find patterns that represent the recovery process of the sport horse.

This project will be carried out by our graduation intern Naomi Groos for the study Animal Husbandry at the Hogeschool Inholland Delft.