Winter Boredom Busters for Horses

What ideas do you have for dealing with winter horse boredom? Alayne Blickle, of Horses for Clean Water, shares some tips.

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I don’t know if this time of the year is harder for me or my horses. I get cabin fever when I’m not able to get out and ride reguarly, and I know my horses do as well. After a short reprieve from winter weather, the cold is back here in Idaho, so I’ve come up with a couple of posts on ideas for alleviating winter-related boredom. My first post with be boredom busters for horses. My second will be boredom busters for us riders. And maybe you have some ideas to add as well? I am anxious to hear them!

This time of the year is when many of us notice our horses are bored, often resorting to destructive behaviors like chewing on barns. Boredom isn’t only a mental thing for horse. It can cause real health issues and subsequent vet bills through problems with weight gain, bickering or fighting between horses, ulcers, stall vices (such as chewing, pawing, pacing or weaving) and even colic.

Let’s look at some ideas for dealing with horse boredom.

Horses are designed by nature to always be moving and foraging. Research shows that horses left to their own free will eat 18 to 22 hours per day. Twice a day feedings with little other stimulation can lead to a very bored horse. Often the easiest thing to change is providing smaller, more frequent meals to mimic a horse’s natural behavior. We feed three times per day and I know of other barns that do four or more. If this isn’t possible consider leaving additional, lower quality hay for your horse to browse during the day Ð or investing in one of the slow feeders now available. These slow feeder bins or bags force horses to take smaller bites, so that they are eating over a longer period of time

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Written by:

Alayne Blickle, a lifelong equestrian and ranch riding competitor, is the creator/director of Horses for Clean Water, an award-winning, internationally acclaimed environmental education program for horse owners. Well-known for her enthusiastic, down-to-earth approach, Blickle is an educator and photojournalist who has worked with horse and livestock owners since 1990 teaching manure composting, pasture management, mud and dust control, water conservation, chemical use reduction, firewise, and wildlife enhancement. She teaches and travels North America and writes for horse publications. Blickle and her husband raise and train their mustangs and quarter horses at their eco-sensitive guest ranch, Sweet Pepper Ranch, in sunny Nampa, Idaho.

6 Responses

  1. re: Winter Boredom Busters for Horses

    I am impressed with Clark and others here who take quality time to "play" with their horse. A vet friend of mine once said if we interacted and treated our horses more like dogs they would become much more sociable.

  2. re: Winter Boredom Busters for Horses

    What is your opinion of this type of slow feeder?









  3. re: Winter Boredom Busters for Horses

    My gelding has a jolly ball that he plays with, but I have also given him empty 1 gallon plastic milk jugs.  These are cheap since he likes to bounce on it and it has a handle for him to grab.

  4. re: Winter Boredom Busters for Horses

    My herd can entertain themselves for hours trying to lick the peanut butter off a hanging jolly ball.…/peanut-butter-movi“”e: Winter Boredom Busters for Horses

    My herd can entertain themselves for hours trying to lick the peanut butter off a hanging jolly “

  5. re: Winter Boredom Busters for Horses

    The worst is when I have to keep the boys inside all day because the weather is really bad/cold (only the side of the building for protection).  Okie relieves his boredom by annoying the crap out of me while I try to clean their stalls.  He h

  6. re: Winter Boredom Busters for Horses

    I know personally my mare is easily susceptible to boredom year round.  I have been able to arrange with my boarding stables to get an extra feeding to help her out.  But I personally have discovered interesting and entertaining ways to engag

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