Objective—To describe spontaneous locomotion activity of foals kept under various management conditions and assess the suitability of global positioning system (GPS) technology for recording foal activity.
Procedures—During the foals' first 4 months of life, 921 observation periods (15 minutes each) were collected and analyzed for locomotion activities. The GPS system was evaluated by simultaneously carrying out field observations with a handheld computer.
Results—Foals spent 0.5% of total observed time cantering, 0.2% trotting, 10.7% walking, 32.0% grazing, 34.8% standing, and 21.6% lying down. Total observed daytime workload (velocity × distance) in the first month was approximately twice that in the following months. Locomotion activity decreased with increasing age. Colts had more activity than fillies in certain periods, and foals that were stabled for some portion of the day had compensatory locomotion activity, which was probably insufficient to reach the level of foals kept continually outside. The GPS recordings and handheld-computer observations were strongly correlated for canter, trot, and walk and moderately correlated for standing and lying. Correlation for grazing was low.
Conclusions and Clinical Relevance—Results indicated that domestically managed foals, when kept 24 h/d at pasture, will exercise at a level comparable with feral foals. High workload during the first month of life might be important for conditioning the musculoskeletal system. The GPS technique accurately quantified canter, trot, and walk activities; less accurately indexed resting; and was unsuitable for grazing because of the wide array of velocities used while foraging.