Due to the reduced amount of daylight, the time horses spend in their boxes increases, particularly in winter. The pastures are closed and paddocks do not offer the same incentive to exercise or the same kind of variety. Your horse will be bored easily. The market is satisfied with opportunities to keep your horse busy, but not everything has to cost a lot of money and some things can even be made by yourself.
- Food Games
Salt licks in different flavors can be mounted freely swinging in a holder in the box. As a result the horse has to exert more effort to reach the salt lick. The holder should consist exclusively of non-toxic and harmless material. The nutritional valueof the salt lick should also be checked: numerous types consist mainly of sugar. Nibble balls made from pressed hay or muesli are more suitable. Alternatively feed dispensers offer an ideal employment opportunity, but once the horse has figured out the system, they are not kept busy for long. Depending on the variant, apples or pourable dry food can be placed in a hollowed-out wooden trunk. The wooden trunk is threaded through with cords that prevent the food from falling out. If the horse pulls on a wooden clapper connected to a drawstring the feed falls out in portions. The degree of difficulty can be varied. Hay nets and alike products also keep horses busy to a certain extent. On average they need longer for the actual feeding time if the hay is offered in nets or other containers with holes. However, the meshes should not be too small - otherwise the frustration level is too high. In addition some carrots could also be hidden in the hay net. Treats or hay balls should only be used in open areas such as the paddock to minimize teh risk of injury. Another way to keep your horse busy is with horse toys that remind of cuddly toys like teddy bears. Many horses like to use this "animals" for nibbling and depending on the horse's enthusiasm, for playing.
Do It Yourself:
- A few thick, untreated wooden discs (approx. 15 cm in diameter) are perced in the middle and threaded onto a sturdy cord. Knots are set before and after every two discs. The cord is then hung up in the box. Carrots, dry bread or other treats can now be placed between the slices.
- A normal children's gripping ball (food safe and not splinterable) is fastened in the horse box with a sturdy cord and studded with carrots. The more carrots that are pushed through the grates, the more difficult it is for the horse to reach the treats.
Safety: All feeding games and activities should be placed in the box in such a way that they neither disturb nor endanger your horse. The attachments must also be designed in such a way that they are harmless to the horse and the horse cannot accidentally eat them.
- Snack Games
Horses love to explore things with their mouths. They are naturally curious and love to nibble. Branches and trunks of non-poisonous trees and bushes which are hung in the box offer an ideal and cheap opportunity to keep your horse busy. Birch, alder, hazelnut, fruit trees, poplar and willow are best suited. However, once the bark has been nibbled off the stems should be replaced as the resin tht escapes can damage the teeth.Thepieces of wood become particularly tasty when they are spiked or coated with herbs, salt or rose hips. The paddocks should also be included in the nibble games - nibbling together is even more fun! Larger and more impassable trunks and branches over which the horse can even climb are also suitable for outdoor use. But be careful with pointed branchesor sharp edges.
The feeding, resting and watering spots can also be set up at a distance from each other on paddocks. In this way even in a smaller paddock the horses have at least a certain incentive to move and not just stand at the gate because everything is offered there. Gymnastic balls, tarps, a worn-out mattress - all of these things can provide employment and counteract boredom which ultimately has negative effects on well-being and motivation.