The behaviour of horses competing in different disciplines was studied and the relationship between the time they spent out of the stable and the prevalence of abnormal behaviour was examined. The owners of dressage, eventing and endurance horses were sent a questionnaire and a total of 1101 responses were received, giving data on 1750 horses. The behaviours studied were wood-chewing, weaving, crib-biting/wind-sucking and box-walking. The reported percentage prevalences of abnormal behaviour for the dressage, eventing and endurance horses were 32.5, 30.8 and 19.5, respectively. The relationship between the time spent in the stable and the prevalence of abnormal behaviour was examined by chi 2 tests which showed that there were significant linear trends for the eventing group (P < 0.001) and the dressage group (P < 0.05). It is concluded that the time a horse spends out of the stable is related to the discipline for which it is being trained and in dressage and eventing horses the time spent in a stable is correlated with an increased risk of abnormal behaviour.