Horses are undoubtedly nature’s great explorers and because of this, they love nothing more than moving around and experiencing their natural environment.
However, as any horse owner will know only too well, it simply isn’t possible to allow them freedom 24 hours of the day. Instead, we have to pop them in the stables.
Unfortunately, the restriction of stable space can build up equine boredom. It is important to notice this and take action to rid your horse of it.
Generally, there are four tell-tale signs that your horse is suffering from boredom. These signs are weaving while walking, constant box walking, biting and chewing and wind sucking.
So, now that you can spot if your horse is suffering from it, here are ten ways to cure equine boredom.
Horse toys are a great way to keep their body and mind busy out in the field or yard and thankfully there are lots of different ones available.
Here at Ride-away we have plenty of toys on offer including some specifically designed to help cure boredom. Take a look at the Boredom Breaker as a perfect example.
It’s one thing to turn your horse out and give them a little freedom from their stable, but why not try and give them a little more to concentrate on.
Set up a series of obstacles, which can be as easy or challenging as you think your horse will be happy with.
The problem in winter months is that it might not be ideal to turn out your horse due to the conditions.
While it isn’t possible for everyone, if you do have a barn or large indoor space, it is important you use it to get your horse the minimum required exercise.
While it is ideal to give your horse toys to play with while outside, it might not always be possible, particularly in the winter.
So, to keep the boredom at bay, pack a couple of good toys in the stables. add variety with hanging toys as well as ground toys.
Ride with Music
This is really fun for you and your horse. Pop on some music when out in the yard or field and try matching your horse’s stride to the beat.
While you might not be competing for any Olympic dressage medals just yet, this is a sure-fire way to engage your horse and hold back the boredom.
Riding with a Friend
Next time you try heading out of the stables with a friend, don’t just ride out together, try something a little more structured.
Why not try riding in a formation? Try following each other in tandem, keeping a couple of steps distance, or riding alongside each other stirrup-to-stirrup.
Ride with a Loose Rein
Position your horse in a perfect head position and comfortable speed then drop the reins. See if they can maintain performance and form for a few strides without your direction.
Instead of just taking your horse out for a swift ride, give them something a little more challenging.
There are literally millions of different cone combinations you can lay out to weave in between. This can also help you build up control and skill in tight situations.
Change up Your Signals
Keep your horse on its toes (well, hooves) by changing up the way in which you normally relay signals.
If you normally direct rein, try neck reining or vice-versa. If you usually use voice cues, try out rein cues or leg cues.
Changing Pace Smoothly
Trying out these exercises can both clear the equine boredom and improve your riding in the long-term.
See if you can ask your horse to go from a walk into a trot as smoothly as possible and without raising its head. Alternatively, try out downshifting speeds.
Equine boredom is a common issue that owners have to deal with, particularly in the winter months when it’s not always ideal to venture outside as often.
Trying out even a few of these exercises and tips will not only help to clear the boredom, but they might just improve your riding experiences in the future.