The welfare of young Polish Konik horses subjected to agricultural workload

J Appl Anim Welf Sci. 2013;16(1):35-46. doi: 10.1080/10888705.2013.740997.


Every year a new group of young Polish Konik colts are separated from the forest herds to be trained in the stable breeding system. The aim of this study was to evaluate how the young Polish Konik horses who had been born in a forest reserve adapt to and tolerate draft work. Two groups of 6 horses each were studied: (a) 3- to 4-year-old colts and (b) 7- to 13-year-old stallions. An effort response was estimated by heart rate (HR) registration and biochemical analysis of hematocrit; blood lactic acid (LA) level; and plasma concentration of glucose, triacylglycerols, uric acid, total protein, and cortisol as well as the activity of creatine kinase and lactate dehydrogenase. The mean HR workload response was significantly higher in the group of colts than in the adult stallions: 141 ± 19.3 bpm versus 124 ± 14.4 bpm, respectively. Blood LA level determined after effort was also significantly higher in colts than in stallions: 2.17 ± 0.42 and 1.40 ± 0.16 mmol/l, respectively. The increases in HR and blood LA levels in the colts were higher than in adult stallions, but such increases did not exceed the values characteristic for young working horses. Therefore, the Polish Konik colts evaluated in this study, and new colts who will be separated from the forest herds and brought to the stables in the future, can be subjected to the same work routine that has been used historically because it is not beyond their capabilities.

Publication types

  • Evaluation Study

MeSH terms

  • Age Factors
  • Agriculture*
  • Animal Welfare*
  • Animals
  • Animals, Domestic / blood
  • Animals, Domestic / physiology*
  • Animals, Wild
  • Biomarkers / blood
  • Heart Rate
  • Hematocrit
  • Horses / blood
  • Horses / physiology*
  • Male
  • Physical Conditioning, Animal / physiology*
  • Physical Exertion / physiology*
  • Poland
  • Stress, Physiological / physiology*


  • Biomarkers