Horses spend most of the day awake, sleeping only for 3 to 4 hours a day, 20 minutes at one time. In those long hours that they spend without their human companion, they need ways to be engaged both mentally and physically. Equine’s natural environment is in a green pasture, with enough room to walk, run and explore, to graze, and to interact with other members of their herd.
Anyone who is lucky enough to have a horse can tell you that there is nothing better. Horses aren’t simply a pet, but rather a companion. The bond between human and horses is unlike any other. They are loyal, fun, beautiful animals, which will be there for you for a long, long time since they live longer than most domestic animals.
Horses are also great for your lifestyle, offering you a lot of benefits – both for your psychological and for your physical health. Nevertheless, they are also a huge responsibility, and taking care of them and keeping them happy takes time, a lot of effort, patience, knowledge and constant learning.
Horses Need Mental and Physical Simulation
Being confined and isolated for long periods can cause them anxiety and boredom, so having a way to stimulate their natural instincts is vital to their wellbeing. Because of this, when your horse is restricted in a stall, they become bored, get anxious and they may even become develop behavioural issues, such as wood chewing or crib-biting.
If their natural instincts to hang out with their herd, to walk and graze, are engaged, if they are mentally and physically stimulated, your horse will be not only happier but also healthier. However, most horses spend their time alone or with just one or a couple of companions, which can be very hard on them.
Ways to Keep Your Horse Engaged
All pets are a huge responsibility, whether they are cats, dogs, chickens, and horses even more so. Their wellbeing depends entirely on us – we need to feed them, keep them safe, keep them healthy. But most horse owners understand that this is not enough. For most horses, especially younger ones, getting enough food, spending time with their human companion and getting enough exercise isn’t enough stimulation and they will need something more to fight off boredom. Of course, time and activities with you are vital, but to make sure your horse is happy you should also provide them with safe and mentally and physically engaging horse boredom toys.
Your horse needs to have enough engaging toys to keep them busy and engaged when they are alone and/or bored. This is why you should buy some horse boredom toys. These toys should be specifically designed and made for equine use. To be suitable for horses, these toys need to be properly sized, durable and safe.
Balls are a common toy for horses because they love playing with them. They can throw them and chase them around, and bite at them. However, make sure you buy one that’s appropriate for horse use. You can also get them a fun, interactive tug ball with handles.
However, your horse should have a lot of options. Fortunately, there are many things you already have around the barn or the house for your horse to play with. However, you need to make sure that whatever you give them is safe, and won’t hurt them while they are playing with it. You need something they can kick, push, toss around, chase or simply carry, that can’t hurt them. Some examples of items that can become toys for horses are plastic barrels, plastic traffic cones, rubber tubes etc.
Other Tips to Keep Your Horse Happy
Toys aren’t the only way to engage your horse so that they don’t get bored and anxious, and stay physically and mentally healthy. One thing you can try is playing music for them. Many horses love listening to music, so you could try to find out what kind of music your horse likes, and prepare a playlist for them to listen to.
Furthermore, you could offer your horse a water source to play in and create a large puddle. If you have a herd, you should allow them to eat and live together, since horses thrive both physically and mentally from interaction. Horses benefit greatly from living in herds, because that way they can play, they can learn social skills, boundaries, and respect from other members of the herd, which are more dominant than them.
Provide forage in more different locations, to avoid food aggression if you have more horses. The number of food locations should bigger than the number of horses, at least by one. Having food in multiple locations is also a good idea because horses like nibbling. In fact, in nature horses constantly feed on grazing throughout the day, which helps them stay safe. This will also encourage movement, which is very important.