While we might fuss at our horses for pawing in the stable, new research from Cornell University (USA) indicates that pawing might not necessarily be just a bad habit. Their study of 41 Standardbred racehorses revealed that 58% of the horses were seen pawing during a regular work week. What’s more, these animals were showing much more pawing in the afternoons, a few hours after their workouts, than in the mornings. And on Sundays, when they weren't exercised, there wasn't any significant difference in the amount of pawing between mornings and afternoons. So what’s causing the pawing? Pain or discomfort, possibly, according to study authors Christina L. Butler Ph.D. and Katherine Albro Houpt Ph.D.
“Horses may be pawing to create holes in which they can place their back legs to redistribute their weight or compensate for unevenness of flooring,” they stated.