Trying to juggle work, family, fitness, a social-life and our horse can be hectic! But whilst we are busy trying to stay afloat of all the madness – for most – our horses are cooped up in their stable awaiting to fit into their owners busy schedule.
As an owner you probably know your horse better than anyone. But if your horse was suffering with stable boredom, would you be able to tell?
Whether your fields are closed, the weather is too bad or your horse is on box rest, there are many causes to why your horse may be boredom whilst in their stable. So, below we have explained why your horse may be bored, what signs to look out for and how to prevent it.
What causes boredom?
The natural nature of horses is to be roaming freely in grasslands and grazing for up to 18 hours a day. However, many horses have become domestically accustomed to being in their stable, and in fact, some quite like it! However, your horse may be suffering with boredom and here are the most common reasons why:
A Limited View From Their Stable
The majority of horse’s enjoy watching what is going on around the yard, whether that is their fellow yard-friends or the everyday running of the yard and horse owners. But if your horse doesn’t have any view of the outside world, they may easily suffer from stable boredom. Is your stable is isolated from other horses, in a barn or facing a wall? If possible try to re-locate your horse to an alternative stable with a better view.
Your Horse May Be Lonely
Horses are naturally herd animals and like to be with fellow horses as a companion. If your horse is again isolated from other horses and has limited interaction with their horsey-friends this may be a reason your horse is bored. Your horse could also be suffering with loneliness from a lack of attention from their owner. Try to spend more time with your horse inside the stable to keep them entertained!
They Need A Bigger Stable
Does your horse struggle to lie down and roll over in the stable? Your horse may need a bigger stable! In the wild, horses roam for miles and miles all day long, so being stuck in their stable with a limited room for them to walk around can cause boredom.
Some horses need more entertainment and stimulation than others depending on the age, breed, nature and energy-levels of your horse. As most horses are enclosed in their stable for the most of their day, they may require something to keep their minds occupied and stimulated.
Not Exercised Enough
Dependent on various reasons, your horse may be limited to their exercise. If your horse is on box rest from an injury, is a veteran, or you simply have been unable to ride your horse, you horse may become restless and agitated from a lack of exercise.
Signs Your Horse Is Bored
Many horses have a tendency to scratch on either the wall or door of their stable. Perhaps your horse does genuinely have an itch, but it is common for bored horses to scratch from stable boredom. A great way to allow your horse to scratch safely in the stable is by using the Equine Scratcher:
The Equine Scratcher Black RRP £17.99
The Equine Scratcher offers relief from insect bites, boredom or shedding a seasonal coat. Fix this to a wall in your stable to keep your horse busy and comfortable should they be bored!
Box walking is where a horse repetitively paces around their stable in a circle motion. Some horses will either charge around the stable in a circular motion and some will pace slowly with their head low to the ground. Box walking has been scientifically proven to be caused from a lack of social interaction, lack of turn-out and stabling for a prolonged time.
When a horse weaves it may be because they have seen other horses weave around the yard and have picked up the habit. Weaving can also be a sign your horse is anxious about something. However for some horses, this may be a sign of boredom. If your horse weaves, try to watch it’s characteristics and timing of when your horse decides to weave to ensure you know exactly the cause behind this habit.
Trashing Their Stable
Some horses may naturally be a stable-wrecker simply from their personality and behaviour. However, if you’re not used to seeing your horse being destructive in their stable, this may be a huge sign of boredom. Your horse may be kicking their buckets around their stable, pawing their bedding, pulling down their hay-nets or any other destructive behaviour.
If you’re lucky enough your horse may be very affectionate towards you and others – which of course is delightful to feel the love from your horse. However, if your horse isn’t one to usually require attention from you but you have found your horse has become very needy – this may be a sign your horse is both bored and lonely.
Kicking The Door
This habit can be picked up by your horse copying other horses kicking their door. But if your horse has picked this habit up all by itself, it may be a sign your horse is agitated and bored of being in their stable.
Chewing / Biting
Chewing is believed to be caused from keeping horses in an unnatural environment. As horses are typically wild animals without any enclosure, some horses may feel restricted and trapped in their stable. Many bored horses will chew at the wood of their stable as simply ‘something to do’. However, chewing can be due to nutritional deficiencies or a habit picked up from other horses too.
Naylors Boredom Breaker Toys / Treats
Hayball Large Holes RRP £47.99
The multi-sided feeder features 7.5cm diameter holes to keep your horses amused, pushing it around to get the hay out. The Hayball is both easy to fill and perfect to use as a boredom breaker both in the stable or in the paddock.
Likit Boredom Breaker Purple RRP £27.50
This Boredom Breaker is designed to hang in the stable away from the walls. Ideal for relieving stress and boredom. Your horse has to work for its reward with the Boredom Breaker as the toy spins and swings when licked.
Horsemen’s Pride Inc Jolly Ball Peppermint Scented RRP £29.99
The Horsemen’s Pride Jolly Ball features a tempting peppermint scent and bright colour making it the ideal toy for relieving boredom or stress in the stable or field.
Likit Snak-A-Ball Red RRP £26.99
Fill a Snak-A-Ball with tasty treats to keep your horse entertained!
The treats trickle out when they kick or nudge the ball. A great way for your horse to have fun over an extended period of time.
Shop More Horse Toys Here:
How To Keep Your Horse Boredom-Free and Happy
If you can, try get your horse out of the stable for at least an hour a day to stretch their legs and have a change or scenery. This could be leading, riding, lunging, in the field or loose in the menage.
Spend more one-on-one time with your horse in the stable. Ways to interact with your horse more:
- Grooming: spend more time grooming your horse in the stable for more social interaction.
- Affection: After the mucking out, riding and tidying, are you paying your horse some one-to-one attention? Make sure to show your horse some love and attention to reduce their levels of boredom.
- Scratching your Horse: Most horses love a good scratch, whether that’s with your hands or with a grooming/massaging brush.
Roma Brights Massage Glove RRP £4.55
The Massage Glove is ideal for grooming time with your horse. It increases circulation and to help stimulate the oils within your horse’s coat.
- Teaching your Horse Tricks: This will encourage mind stimulation and keep your horse occupied. By using treats, you can train your horse how to bow and, say please. You could also train your horse to lift their legs whilst hoof picking!
- Stretches: Many horses boredom comes from the lack of stimulation and built-up energy whilst being stuck in the stable. Horses historically roam all day and night in the wild. Stretch your horse to relief some pressure and keep them subtle and relaxed.
Horlyx Mini Lick Mint RRP £4.85
The Horslyx Mini Lick is a nutritious alternative to sugary treats. The Mini Lick is highly palatable and provides a 3 day supply of vitamins and minerals.
If it’s a possibility, try to change their stable so they have more room to walk around, to roll. Choose a stable where they will see more going on around the yard or with more visibility of other horses.
Delaying Their Eating Time
Most horse’s boredom increases once they have nothing to do, such as eating. Horse’s should be grazing for at least 70% of their day depending on their health and restrictions. Use a restricting hay-net to keep your horse eating for longer. These will prolong the time it takes your horse to eat during the day and overnight.
Offering an effective, high quality, versatile hay-bag. The Hay Tidy Bag features a reinforced stitched front panel. With restricted wholes, this bag will ensure it takes longer for your horse to graze. (Even against the most enthusiastic horse).
This double layered hay net helps prevent rapid consumption and over eating. Keeping your horse busy for longer and preventing boredom!
If your horse is bored or chews at the wood in their stable, these are a great way to keep your horse boredom-free. Horslyx offers a long-lasting horse treat, filled with beneficial supplements and minerals. Can be use in the stable or whilst out in the field.
Horslyx Respiratory Refill RRP 5kg £18.25
Horslyx encourage the natural trickle feeding pattern in horses and can help reduce boredom and stress in the stable. This tasty treat can help balance nutritional deficiencies in forage and grazing diets.
Help From Friends
If you have a busy day ahead, we recommend asking yard-friends for your help! Why not ask one of your fellow yard-friends to provide your horse with some hay? This can then keep your horse further occupied until you arrive to see to them!
We hope you found this blog post helpful should your horse be feeling the stable-blues. We would love to hear your tips and tricks on keeping your horse entertained in the stable!
By Taylor Spalding