Boredom busters for horse's on limited turnout and their owners!
The fields at this time of the year are frequently sodden or frozen. Combined with which the weather closes in in the early afternoon and it’s dark by 4pm. Both of these factors mean many horses will spend more time in their stable. This is not only boring for them but can lead to stiffness, particularly in older horses and over-freshness in youngsters. So how do you beat the boredom for horses on restricted turn out?
Don’t despair, it’s not all gloomy! Use the extra hours to bond with your horse and have a bit of fun. Here are some great ideas for winter boredom busters, many of which could also be used for a stabled horse at any time.
Fun and games
Horses enjoy being able to play! It’s understood that play behaviour is of great importance to a horse’s well-being, so much so that owners are now actively encouraged to use toys in the stable.
Horses are motivated by food and there are some inexpensive treat-reward orientated games you can easily set up for them:
- Apple bobbing - you'll need a large diameter, shallow tub filled with water. Make sure it’s wide enough to be stable and not easily tipped over though
- Hanging swede - hang a swede on a piece of baling string from a beam in the stable if you have one.
There are many different toys on the market now, such as Likits. These come in different forms and act as a good source of entertainment to help enrich the space for your trusty steed whilst he's in his stable. Using the different Likit holders and their various levels of difficulty along with flavours will keep him entertained for hours.
A feed ball has a unique internal baffle plate which limits the amount of food deposited on the ground at any one time. This slows the consumption rate which provides for a more natural trickle feeding pattern.
If you prefer a toy that doesn’t include food, the Horseman’s Jolly Apple is a good choice. This large toy can be hung up in the stable to help alleviate boredom.
Or why not opt for a Horseman's Jolly Ball? These brilliant bouncy balls are made from super tough non-toxic plastic and have a handle that is perfect for horses to grab hold of. Proven to reduce stress in horses, these 10” balls will not deflate making them a perfect boredom busting accessory for both the stable and field.
Drip feed hay
If your horse tends to eat his hay too fast, a small holed hay net will make it last longer. Keep him further entertained by hiding treats and pieces of carrot in the hay net as well.
Build your bond
Another great way to fight boredom in the stable is to spend more time with your horse. Why not take him out of his stable and groom him somewhere else on the yard as this will at least give him a change of scenery.
Grazing your horse in-hand for short periods of time, which again is a great bonding experience for you both, is also good because he’ll be outside and have access to some fresh grass.
Most horses love being groomed and will enjoy your company even more if they’re stabled for long periods. Use the opportunity to form a deeper bond with your horse as well as to keep him looking smart. Grooming is also very good for improving circulation and coat condition. While you're both in the mood, why not pull his mane and tail too?
Exercise if it’s safe to do so
Walk your horse out in-hand a couple of times a day, providing the ground conditions are safe to do so. A few short walks are probably better than just one long one. Do bear in mind though that limited or no turnout means he’s likely to have more energy than usual and you can’t blame him for that. Just be ready for any sudden outbursts!