If you think about it, today’s domesticated horse leads a pretty dull life. Although we work our horses, take our horses on trail rides, and show our horses, most of their lives are either spent walking and grazing in the pasture (what they are meant to do) or living in a corral or box stall. Keeping a horse in a confined space is easier for us (not for them) and it is quickly a way for horses to become bored. To address that boredom, some horses chew wood (or crib) and others may weave back-and-forth. Fortunately, there are easy-to-use tips to keep your horse from being bored.
Play with Your Horse
Yes! Play with your horse. This may not be the first thing you might think of, but it is easy to do and fun. In an arena, corral, pasture, or any enclosed area, turn your horse free. If your horse knows voice commands, you can engage your horse in planned play by having them do transitions (trot to walk, canter to trot, etc.) and change directions. If you have a good connection with your animal, you can have it chase you and vice versa in a fun and playful way.
Add an Activity Ball
Another way to reduce your horse’s boredom is to add an activity ball to its stall or another area. Activity balls designed for horses are made from sturdy material designed to hold up to your equine’s play. There are balls that you can hang in the stall or just place on the stall floor so that your horse can push it around. Some activity balls have a handle-like shape attached directly to it. This allows the horse to pick the ball up with its teeth and play with it – throwing it up in the air or just whipping it back-and-forth. Activity balls also come in scents such as apple and carrot. Your horse will have tons of fun if you place a very large horse ball in its corral or pasture. Watching a horse play with a large activity ball is great fun for you as well!
Treat Toys & Licks
One of the most ingenious toys on the market today for horses is the treat ball. A treat ball is hollow in the middle so that you can fill it with your horse’s favourite treats. Larger treat balls enable you to add carrots and apples. Put in your horse’s stall or corral, they roll and tumble the toy until the treats fall out! Like activity balls designed for horses, treat balls are made from strong material to withstand your horse’s play. Coming in a wide variety of sizes and colours, treat balls can be used by all sizes of ponies and horses. Giving your horse access to different sizes and colours of treat toys provides them with the variety needed to reduce boredom.
Another type of treat toy is essentially some type of horse treat (such as apples, molasses, carrots, etc.) pressed into a shape (a ball or doughnut-shape). The treat is connected to a rope or placed on some type of hanger you can purchase. Hang the treat toy where your horse can easily reach and lick it. This reduces boredom while providing your horse with a nutritious treat.
Remember that the horse was created to roam and graze, not stand in a stall or small corral. The best way to reduce boredom is to allow your horse to be out in a pasture grazing most of the time. When this is not possible, playing with your horse, adding a ball and treat toys will keep your horse’s mind active, directing them away from engaging in boredom-induced activities such as cribbing and weaving.