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

  • Horse & Hound is supported by its audience. When you purchase through links on our site, we may earn commission on some of the items you choose to buy. Learn more
  • If your horse has recently been confined to his stable 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

    There is such a wide range of stable toys available – so we’ve rounded up the best stable toys for horses. Some horses are more 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 Breaker at amazon.co.uk
    Ideal for food motivated horses or experienced lickers, this multi-directional double hanging challenge will keep the busiest horse occupied.

    View Deal

    Horsemen’s Pride Jolly Ball at viovet.co.uk
    This ball is made of hard wearing material that resists deflating when bitten, kicked, tossed around or rolled on. Some are also scented for extra temptation.

    View Deal

    Silvermoor Swingers at viovet.co.uk
    This hanging forage block is made from 100% natural ingredients with no added sugar. Having no corners and the swinging design mean your horse has to work to be able to eat it, slowing consumption and promoting saliva production, which buffers stomach acid.

    View Deal

    Horsemen’s Pride Pas-a-Fier at amazon.co.uk
    This apple-scented toy has a rotating device that allows your horse to massage his gums for hours. Hardware to mount the toy to the wall is included.

    View Deal

    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.

    Shires Carrot Ball at viovet.co.uk
    This ball is designed to help increase dexterity and encourage learning with healthy treats as a reward. It should keep your horse entertained for hours and can be used with carrots, turnips, parsnips or apples.

    View Deal

    3. Treats galore

    The best treats for horses 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, such as the Likit Snak-a-Ball (which you can find on Viovet).

    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, such as this Horslyx Mini (available on Amazon), are a great substitute for a carrot and can encourage your horse to hold the stretch for longer, too.

    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.

    The best slow feeders and small-holed haynets, such as the Shires Greedy Feeder (available on Amazon), may also keep him busier for longer, although they’re not the best for hiding carrots in.

    Horseman’s Pride Hay Ball at amazon.co.uk
    This hay ball is lightweight and durable and can easily be hung in a stall or outside. The larger holes allow for hay to be placed inside while the smaller holes are perfect for holding apple or carrot chunks to add a yummy treat.

    View Deal

    KM Elite Elim-A-Net at amazon.co.uk
    These nets have two directions of mesh to create a more challenging barrier. Holes are 25mm (pony), 30mm (cob) and 35mm (horse), and the nets have metal rings at the top and bottom.

    View Deal

    Nats Hay Ball at amazon.co.uk
    This hay ball is available with 50mm or 75mm holes, and is suitable for indoor or outdoor use.

    View Deal

    Trickle Net Original at viovet.co.uk
    These nets are handmade from 4mm rot-proof braided polyethylene and have 25mm fixed holes.

    View Deal

    6. Pamper time

    With little opportunity to indulge in a lovely long itch-busting roll, your horse will probably appreciate a good grooming session with a selection of the best grooming brushes. 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, such as this massaging grooming glove on Viovet, or mitt, such as the Equilibrium massage mitt (also available on Viovet).

    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!

    Self Adhesive Vinyl Mirror at amazon.co.uk
    Simply apply the powerful self-adhesive backing to any smooth clean surface and hang in your stable. Made of a flexible material that will not shatter. 

    View Deal

    You might also be interested in:

    Horse & Hound magazine, out every Thursday, is packed with all the latest news and reports, as well as interviews, specials, nostalgia, vet and training advice. Find how you can enjoy the magazine delivered to your door every week, plus options to upgrade your subscription to access our online service that brings you breaking news and reports as well as other benefits. 

    You may like...