Horses have been domesticated for thousands of years and over time, our relationship has begun to evolve away from using them to complete tasks and for transportation. Now, many horses are kept solely as pets with no real jobs other than companionship and to live out their best horse lives grazing, getting fed treats, and loved on by their humans.
Despite this life of comfort, horses still need enrichment and mental stimulation to keep their lives exciting. Introducing a variety of ways for horses to fulfill their natural need to exercise, forage, socialize, and explore will help keep them happy and feeling good. The best news? There are a bunch of different DIY games and toys out there to not only entertain your horse, but to help build the bond between the two of you.
Find The Treat
Horses have a natural need to forage, meaning they spend the majority of their time grazing and looking for food in the wild. As pets, they still hold this same desire, and you can help them fulfill that need with a simple game of find the treat!
Step 1: Grab some treats your horse loves, such as apples, carrots or another healthy treat.
Step 2: Place the treats inside of a puzzle toy or milk jug with holes cut into it, making sure the edges are worn down so they aren’t sharp.
Step 3: Find a spot to hang the treat dispenser, such as in their stall, a fence post, or from a sturdy branch. Then, let them explore the toy and figure out how to get each treat out.
Step 4: Switch up the difficulty and fun for your horse by hanging it in different spots, using different sized treats, or hanging multiple toys up at a time for your horse to find throughout the day!
Pick It Up and Other Tricks
Training is a great way for you to engage with your horse directly, and it can be rewarding for them to have a job to do! Teaching your horse fun tricks, like picking up an object, allows them to fulfill sensory needs, exercise, and is mentally stimulating for them. All you need is an object for your horse to pick up and some tasty treats of motivation.
Step 1: Choose an object or toy for your horse to focus on, starting with something easy for them to grab like a piece of cloth.
Step 2: As your horse explores, use a clicker or a treat each time they interact with the cloth.
Step 3: Add a cue or word once your horse picks up the cloth such as “pick up” and reward them again, remember to be patient as they explore – training should be fun, not stressful!
Step 4: Once your horse understands the trick, start introducing other objects using your cue to reinforce the trick. You can use this trick to help your horse exercise by teaching them how to fetch objects from further away.
If your horse likes water, then this game is for them! All you need is a kiddie pool or water trough, some toys and if you want to make it more enriching, some treats that float.
Step 1: Fill a kiddie pool or water trough up with water.
Step 2: Place floating toys, like Jolly Balls, and floatable treats like apples into the water.
Step 3: Splash and touch the different objects in front of your horse to get them interested, and now your horse can bob for different enrichment objects for fun!
The key to enrichment games is to switch them up over time to keep them interesting for your horse. Place toys in different places, try new tricks, or introduce new games each week to stimulate their minds and their bodies.
Want more? Click here for more fun and helpful content!
HAVING A JOLLY GOOD TIME?
Keep the good times going! Sign up to receive monthly treats directly to your inbox!