Horses are magnificent and highly intelligent creatures that have been faithful and helpful companions to humans for a really long time. In fact, horses have been domesticated for over than 6000 years. They can be led, ridden, trained to behave well and do all sorts of things to entertain people. But while horses can entertain us, that doesn’t mean we aren’t responsible for entertaining them.
If you have a horse, you need to find ways to prevent the animal from getting bored. Just like humans, horses get bored in confined spaces when they don’t have anything to do. Low levels of mental stimulation or lack of recreational activities can ultimately lead to dissatisfaction and disruptive behaviour.
For that reason, people constantly come up with new ways to keep their four-legged friends happy and amused. And luckily, someone brilliant invented specific toys for horses that can make boredom gallop away. Let’s find out more about boredom in horses and how to prevent it with the help of toys.
What Happens When Horse is Bored?
In the wild, horses stay active non-stop. Part of it is because they’re prey animals who are constantly on the lookout for predators. This means that they have short naps throughout the day or go without any sleep for longer periods because they like to keep an eye out for danger.
They also prefer to live in groups or herds, not only because it’s safer for them, but also because they’re highly social beings who like to interact with fellow equines and other animals. Horses also engage in various activities that keep them entertained. They have a strong, natural instinct to graze so they spend a lot of time foraging for food.
In the stall, horses don’t have these opportunities to keep them entertained, and yet their mind stays active all the time. Highly intelligent creatures like horses can easily become bored and this can cause several problems such as change of attitude, development of bad habits, training problems and appetite changes.
If your horse is bored or unhappy, you may notice that the stall stays messy no matter how hard you try to keep it tidy. This happens because your horsey might have become depressed or aggressive and developed stable vices such as kicking, weaving, lounging and cribbing. The lack of interest caused by boredom may demonstrate itself in the form of stubbornness or short attention span which will negatively affect training. Moreover, your horse might adopt negative eating habits – it may refuse to eat or quickly gulp grains.
Horses live by a simple motto “you scratch my back and I’ll scratch yours”, so providing them with the adequate environmental enrichment is crucial for their and your own sake. One of the best ways to do this is by incorporating toys in normal day-to-day activities.
Benefits of Toys for Horses
Horses may be intelligent, but they don’t need anything extravagant to keep them busy. Even the simplest horse boredom toys can entertain your equine by making exercise a more fun experience and providing mental and visual stimulation.
Your horse requires regular exercise to stay in top shape. Ridden or led, it needs to engage in physical activities for more than two hours on a daily basis. Apart from your regular routines, you should try training your horse at liberty, without any restraints. You can use toys to play fun games that will strengthen the bond between you two and encourage your horse to stay with you.
A toy for horses can also provide much-needed stimulation when the animal is alone. The monotonous, confined space triggers behavioural issues in horses, and colourful hrose boredom toys provide visual stimulation that’ll soothe your horse’s mind and soul. Horses don’t have trichromatic colour vision, but they can see some bright colours and hues, so this is why most of their toys come in vibrant shades that allow endorphins to kick in.
There’re many different toys for horses to play with – from balls and treat based items to puzzles and challenges – all of which provide a rewarding experience. However, make sure you have several different toys and switch them from time to time because horses can quickly get used to one and start ignoring it.
In the Paddock
An exercise ball is a great paddock toy. Horses can chase it, toss it, kick it around with their legs or boop it with their noses. But they also might like to lie down on the ball or sit on it. This can make the ball pop, so you better choose a durable one.
Horsemen’s Pride creates heavy duty exercise balls that relieve boredom, but also feature an anti-burst design. You can use them without a cover or buy one to add an extra layer of protection. The balls itself is monochromatic, but if you opt to use a cover, you can choose between different vibrant and interesting patterns.
The Jolly Horse Tug Inflatable Ball is also a fun interactive toy for you and your horse. Your horse can easily pick up the Jolly Tug and toss it around. You can use it in training or watch your horse play with a friend.
In the Stall
Although you can hang the exercise ball or tug toy in the stall for your horse to play with when you’re not around, it’s better to have a smaller one to avoid messy situations. Edible toys will make downtime more enjoyable and they can be a healthy way to curb your horse’s appetite.
You can create your own foraging toy or a get puzzle feeder that’ll require your horse to find ways to reach the delicious treats. Speaking of treats, choose healthy snacks from natural ingredients with no artificial flavours and preservatives. Apples, cinnamon, chia and molasses are a delicious combo that’ll inspire your horse to work hard to reach the goodies.