If your horse is prone to being a little stressy, then it’s time to take steps to help him. Start by thinking about how you can meet his needs by considering the following:
Let him be part of a herd
Your horse needs social contact with other horses, but also his own space.
At many livery yards horses are turned out into groups which, if given the choice, they might not want to be part of. Turning out into a bigger area means that if all the horses in the group don’t interact well they can have their own space. If, with this in mind, you don’t believe the yard or routine your horse currently has suits him, moving to a different environment could be what he needs.
Give him his freedom
Regular turnout is essential. Horses are designed to roam and graze for up to
14 hours a day, so keeping your horse confined to his stable will increase his stress. Also, consider what you feed your horse, and ensure he’s getting a forage-based diet, again trying to keep it as natural as possible.
Keep his mind occupied
If your horse has to spend time in his stable, provide mental stimulation in the form of toys or by hiding food so he has to search for it. This will help to keep him relaxed and occupied.
Consider his temperament
Some horses like a busy spot on the yard and may be happier if they can see lots of things when they look out of their stable. Other horses like peace and quiet, so it’s important your horse’s place on the yard suits him.
It can be easy to do the same riding tasks with your horse every day. Try doing something different with your horse, such as walking him out in-hand, or simply spending some quality time with him. Watch how your horse responds to this change.
Give him some control
Because he’s domesticated, your horse’s life lacks control – everything is done for him. So, where possible, make some changes to give
him more choices and, in doing so, give him an element of control. For example, rather than his water in his stable always being in a manager, in the same place, try putting a bucket in his stable too and see which one he prefers to drink from. Or, instead of putting all of his hay ration in one big net, split it into two or three smaller nets and hang them around his stable. Again this gives him the option to choose where he eats.
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