Equestrian Blog

News and thoughts from around the equestrian community

Horse Stable Toys

The current weather conditions are a nuisance to everyone but to the horse owner they mean an extra headache. Do we allow our horses in the field for a chance to relax and move freely or do we keep them in their warm stables? Many owners understandably choose to keep their horse stabled rather than risk walking them out over the ice rink conditions of a tarmac yard. Fields, too, can be icy or at best rock hard with uneven surfaces that can cause injury and strain on your horse's legs. How then, do you keep your horse occupied when he is spending a much longer period of time than usual in his stable? For some horses this can become too much and they may start to display bored or stressed behaviour, from just not being able to settle or appearing unhappy in themselves to developing permanent and damaging stable vices. One answer to this is kitting your stable out with plenty of horse toys and distractions to keep their mind occupied thus keeping bored behaviour at bay.
There are loads of stable toys out there, with one of the simplest sorts being toys which hang from the stable roof, such as the Jolly Apple and Horse Play Stable Ball. The horse knocks the toy with his nose but can’t usually get hold of them, as hard as he might try. This is especially effective with the Jolly Apple as it is also scented so he thinks it could be food and tries his hardest to grab it. Some horses with the right type of personality can get quite enthralled with this type of toy others can find it frustrating so its best to monitor your horse closely when you first introduce this type of toy. 49409-01
Other good types of stable toys are those which have edible distractions. There aren’t many horses out there whose stomachs don’t rule their heads, so food toys tend to be good for occupying equine minds. A simple and cheap yet effective stable toy is something like the Best Mate or Likit Holder hanging treat, these have an outer holder which hangs from the roof of the stable or a tie ring and holds the treat. This can keep the food obsessed horse happy for hours and can last for ages depending on how greedy your horse is!
49401-01 A similar hanging toy is the Likit Boredom Breaker, which is a hanging attachment for your stable, holding 3 likits, 2 small ones and one large one. This means the toy moves around as the horse tries to lick the treats, and as you could have 3 different flavours in there if you wanted to, gives a variety of tastes therefore making him less likely to become disinterested. The Likit Tongue Twister works on a similar theory as the Boredom Breaker. It’s a door or wall attachment which holds 2 little Likits, giving a variety of flavour, and spins round when the horse tries to lick it, making it a difficult task which a horse can easily get enthralled in.
Other stable toys are for use on ground level, which puts the horse into a natural, relaxed grazing position which can help relax the stressy types more than a treat dispenser above the ground. Most of these come in the form of feeders, such as the Snack Ball that you fill with treats which are released as the horse rolls the toy. For more intelligent and highly strung horses this can be an excellent way of keeping them occupied.
For those who are even more clever and can empty the easy rolling ones within half an hour, there are strangely shaped ones available such as the Rock N Roll Ball, Equine Decahedron and Amazing Graze, which are all designed to be more difficult to roll and don’t roll in the direction the horse wants them to. This makes the horse think a bit more, and sometimes have to forage for the treats as he isn’t just picking them up as they fall out right in front of him. These may last longer than ball shaped feeders, but the horse may also become disinterested if he doesn’t have the attention span or patience for them. 49415-01
78107-01 Tub licks are also good for boredom breaking, such as Paddock Likit and Five Star Lick, which are a tub that can be put on the floor and your horse can use them as he pleases. Again this encourages a natural and relaxed posture, good for calming horses down and distracting them from boredom or stress inducing factors. They can also have medical benefits such as the Respiratory Stable Lick, so have more advantages than just keeping a stressed horse calm.
For the horse who craves other equine company and needs the feeling of security he gets from being in a herd, the best idea is to keep him where he can see, hear and touch other horses to try and keep him happy. However this is not always possible and some horses even get stressed if they can hear and smell other horses but can’t see them, as in some stable situation where there are full walls separating horses. Stable mirrors are an excellent way of solving this problem and can calm even the most herd dependant animals if they notice their reflection. For horses with short attention spans and horses who get easily stressed when stabled, a combination of ground feeders, hanging toys and stable mirrors could be the only way to keep them happy until they’re next turned out. Stable toys are always a good idea for the stabled or partially stabled horse as even if they may seem quite happy in the stable, toys help promote a healthy and busy mind, and can keep horses calm, happy and vice free.

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