Holiday Gifts Your Horse Will Love
Holiday gifts ideas for horse lovers are flooding my electronic media and filling the pages of my favorite horse magazines. They advertise mugs with clever phrases like, “A woman’s place is on her horse,” and t-shirts for the horse owner’s lonely—yet resigned—partner. But if you’re looking for a gift that your horse will appreciate, consider an enrichment toy or activity.
What is Enrichment?
Enrichment items and activities are the standard of care for zoo animals and have more recently been developed for horses. Even when a horse is provided with safe housing and ample food, stabling restricts his natural behavior. In some cases, a horse’s physical and emotional welfare can be adversely impacted because opportunities to freely graze, exercise, and interact with other horses are limited. About one-quarter of all domestic horses develop problems and stereotypies related to aspects of equine management,¹ including depression², anxiety, aggression, cribbing and weaving, self-injury, gastric ulcers, colic, and others. Enrichment can reduce or prevent these problems by increasing behavioral diversity and the expression of normal behaviors, promoting interaction with the environment, and improving the animal’s ability to cope with challenges.4
Enrichment objects and activities are categorized by what needs they meet, and include nutritional, sensory, environmental, interactive, behavioral, and social. Some enrichment items that would make a perfect holiday gift for your horse are listed below. Not only will your horse enjoy the gift, it will could also help improve her physical, emotional, and psychological
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