Is your horse stressed? Follow these tips to help your horse feel happy and calm.
Know your horse’s herd
Horses are naturally social and contact with other horses can help to reduce stress.
Living in a herd is one way to keep your horse happy, but it’s also important that your horse has enough space to be by himself if he wants to be.
At many livery yards, horses are turned out into groups, which if given the choice, your horse might not want to be part of.
Making sure your horse is turned out into a big enough space can ensure that he has social contact, but also can have his own space if needed.
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 to reduce his stress.
Give your horse space
Regular turnout is essential to reduce stress in your horse.
Horses are designed to roam and graze for up to 14 hours a day, so keeping your horse confined to his stable can increase his stress levels.
Also, consider what you feed your horse. Keep things as natural as possible and ensure he’s getting a forage-based diet.
Keep your horse’s mind occupied
Sometimes it’s not always possible to turn your horse out so if your horse has to spend time in his stable, provide mental stimulation in the form of toys or by hiding food so that he has to search for it.
It can also be worth using haynets with small holes to make him work for his hay and keep him busy at the same time!
Keeping his mind active like this will keep him occupied while he’s in his stable and help to keep his stress levels down.
Consider your horse’s temperament
Just like people, no two horses are the same with different likes and dislikes, so it’s important to treat your horse as an individual.
Some horses like to see things and have lots going on around them. If this is the case, you might want to consider the location of your horse’s stable as he may be happier if he can see lots of things when he looks out.
Other horses like the peace and quiet, so stabling him in a quieter location of the yard might help keep him calm, as could seeing him at times of day when the yard is quieter.
Add variety to your horse’s day
We all know how boring it can be to repeat the same things over and over again, so why do it with your horse?
With the stresses of daily life, it can be easy to do the same riding tasks with your horse everyday, but why not try one new thing each week?
We’ve got loads of ideas in the riding section of the Your Horse website, or it might even be something as simple as walking your horse out in-hand, or spending some quality time with him. (When was the last time you gave him a proper pampering session?)
Try new things and see what your horse enjoys. You never know, the change might do you good too!
Give him some control
Having been domesticated, your horse’s life lacks control.
Everything is done for him so try and make some changes that give him more choices and in doing so give him an element of control.
For example, try putting two buckets in his stable and see which one he prefers to drink from.
With his hay, instead of putting all of his ration in one big net, split it into two or three smaller nets and hang them around his stable. This gives him the option to choose where he eats and also gives him some stimulation too.