Is your horse stable-bound? Take a look at 7 ways to beat the boredom

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  • If winter weather has resulted in your horse being stabled a lot more than you’d hoped, then you both may be feeling pretty fed up – boredom busters for horses will become your new best friend. While bored horses are at a higher risk of developing stereotypies, most settle to restricted turnout if their mates are also stabled – obviously assuming they’ve got access to food and water. Still, you might want to try some of the following to keep your trusty steed (and yourself) entertained.

    1. Playtime

    From flavoured licks to horse balls, there’s an ever-growing plethora of ready-made horse toys available. Horses are pretty easily pleased, though, so if funds are tight you could make your own. Try drilling a hole in a swede, threading it onto a string and hanging it up in your horse’s stable, or fill an old plastic jug with carrots and hang it securely in his stall. Even tying a knotted rope in one corner might be enough to entertain him.

    Likit Boredom Buster

    Likit Boredom Buster stable toy

    This toy is designed to be hung in the stable and used in conjunction with the little Likit horse licks to provide hours of entertainment.
    Buy at viovet.co.uk

    Horsemen’s Pride Jolly Ball

    Horsemen’s Pride Jolly Ball stable toy boredom busters for horses

    If you’re looking for a food-free form of entertainment, this could be the toy for you.
    Buy at viovet.co.uk

    2. Hide ‘n’ seek

    Horses are typically food-orientated so get his attention by hiding carrots in haynets and hanging them up round the stable. You can also put pieces of apple into his water bucket, so he has to ‘bob’ for them.

    HayGrazer Play hanging haynet

    Haygrazer play haynet

    This hanging haynet uses movement rather than small holes to slow your horse’s eating, which reduces frustration and is kinder on the teeth and gums.
    Buy at haygrazer.co.uk

    3. Treats galore

    Treats can be a good way of entertaining your equine (as long as he’s not on a diet…). It’s a good idea to get him to work for the treats – for example, by putting them into a treat ball that he has to swing/kick to extract the treat.

    Stubbs Rock ‘N’ Roll Ball

    Stubbs Rock N Roll stable toy boredom busters for horses

    Designed so it rolls around in all directions, this dribble feeder has no plugs, stoppers or other removable parts, so it’s really easy to use.
    Buy at viovet.co.uk

    There’s also a great selection of horse treats at viovet.co.uk

    4. Carrot stretches

    Stabled horses can get stiff, so why not maximise this time by practising your carrot stretches? If you’re unsure of how to do them, or want to brush up you skills, here is a video from YouTube to help. Handheld licks are a great substitute for a carrot and can encourage your horse to hold the stretch for longer, too.

    Horslyx mini licks

    mini-horslyx boredom busters for horses

    Use a handheld lick instead of a carrot to perform the stretches.
    More info at horslyx.com
    Buy at viovet.co.uk

    5. Multiple sources of forage

    The Equine Behaviour and Training Association (EBTA) recommends providing different types of forage to stabled horses, to replicate as closely as possible the ‘patch foraging’ that is normal behaviour when grazing. For example, instead of mixing your horse’s feed, you could place the components in separate buckets. Or offer one haynet filled with hay, another with haylage plus a large bucket of dried grass and place them around the stable. Smaller-holed haynets may also keep him busier for longer, although they’re not the best for hiding carrots in.

    Shires Greedy Feeder haylage net

    Shires Greedy Feeder haynet boredom busters for horses

    Keep your horse occupied for longer with a smaller-holed haynet.
    More info at shiresequestrian.com
    Also available at amazon.co.uk

    6. Pamper time

    With little opportunity to indulge in a lovely long itch-busting roll, your horse will probably appreciate a good grooming session. A thorough groom can also help stimulate his circulatory system in a similar way to a massage. You could even try using a specially designed massaging grooming tool or mitt.

    Liveryman massaging grooming glove

    Liveryman massaging grooming glove

    Use this double-sided grooming glove to pamper your horse and encourage his blood to the surface.
    Buy at viovet.co.uk

    Equilibrium massage mitt

    Equilibrium massage mitt boredom buster

    Let the mitt do the work – it has three different intensity settings of low, medium and high, as well as a quick 10 minute programme.
    Buy at viovet.co.uk

    7. Mirror, mirror

    Horses are herd animals, and if for any reason he has to be stabled away from his mates, or can’t easily see them from his stable, then the Equine Behaviour and Training Association (ETBA) suggests using a mirror. Make it a small one, so he can avoid his ‘stable buddy’ if need be, and try him with it on the yard first, to ensure it doesn’t freak him out. If he’s an aggressive type, he’s likely to be aggressive with his ‘mate’ so a mirror may not be a good idea. And of course, make sure it’s safely attached and non-breakable — glass mirror shards in a horse’s stable are not advisable!

    Gadget Planet self-adhesive stable mirror

    Gadget Stable mirror boredom busters for horses

    This is an inexpensive vinyl mirror that sticks to your stable wall – a great way to test whether a more permanent fixture is likely to help your horse.
    Buy at amazon.co.uk

    Saddlers stable mirror

    Saddlers stable mirror boredom busters for horses

    This acrylic stable mirror is available in a range of sizes.
    Buy at redpostequestrian.co.uk

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