The 5 best boredom breakers for stabled horses
During the wet and windy winter that sees short days and long nights, it is very common for horses to spend more time in the stable. While there is are great benefits to this including, your horse is less likely to get cold and muddy, they wont slip over in the mud and risk getting an injury, you don’t have to walk down to the field in the pitch black when you arrive at the yard at 7am etc… it isn’t completely without problem.
Horses that are stabled for a long time tend to show signs of boredom…but it might be for reasons you wouldn’t expect. Signs of boredom may include weaving, pawing, or box walking, and these behaviours are not always just the symptom of your horse wanting to go out and play with their field buddy. Where previously it was assumed that boredom was the main reason that stabled horses were acting up, research now suggests that these behaviours could be a response to increased acidity in the digestive tract.
When horses chew, they produce saliva that contains bicarbonate which neutralises acidity in the gut. If a horse isn’t receiving much fibre and not spending very long chewing (like they would grazing in the field), the gut can become very acidic. This is the reason antacids are starting to be promoted for use in horses with these stereotypical behaviours.
The fact that horses are herd animals should also not be overlooked. Greatly reducing contact with other horses can cause considerable anxiety which can lead to other health problems. So, when stabling your horse try and make sure they are not too isolated by stabling a field buddy nearby. Of course, this will greatly vary between horses, and some may be perfectly happy being stabled alone.
Here are some great ways to keep your happy and occupied in the stable.
- The little Likit Boredom Breaker- The is an excellent combination toy that includes a Likit Holder and a robust ball with inserts for two Little Likits. The Likits come in a range of flavours that you horse will love and spend hours trying to lick!
- Stubs Hay Roller- Perhaps not what you may think of as a ‘boredom breaker’, but the slower horses eat, the longer they will be occupied. This is also good for their gut health. As mentioned above, horses shouldn’t go long periods of time without eating so, particularly for long nights, making their hay last longer is key to reducing problematic behavioural symptoms at their root cause.
- Stable Mirror- Again this might not be an obvious ‘boredom breaker’, but stable mirrors can be very effective at calming anxious stabled horses. This may be of particular interest to those with horses that have separation anxiety.
- Drip feeder Ball- This is designed so it rolls around in all directions as your horse has a challenge of finding the treats inside. It has no stoppers or other removable parts, so it’s really easy and safe to use.
- Jolly Ball- Have you ever felt relief from using a stress ball? Using a stress ball stimulates muscles and nervous which releases hormones that can regulate stress levels. This is the horse equivalent! Known as the ‘ultimate ball to relieve boredom and stress’ the jolly ball is designed to be chewed and played with. It resists deflation from biting, punches or kicking, it needs no air to inflate, and it is made from a revolutionary hard-wearing material.