Anyone who has had a horse on stall rest knows how frustrating it can be for both the rider and horse. Whether they are in for a few days due to bad weather or months for stall rest it can be a challenge to keep your horse entertained. These situations have led me on the quest to find new and exciting ways to keep my thoroughbred entertained.
My horse, Samurai (“Sam,” shown above, pre-stall rest), hates Jolly Balls! I don’t know why, they have a nifty handle and he loves to hold things, but he turns his head up every time. His Jolly Ball was given to a pasture mate who enjoyed it for many years. Sam much prefers traffic cones or training cones. A bizarre choice I know, but he lifts them up, carries them around, tries to stack them on things, and chews on them like a dog with a bone. He’s turned a few of his buddies onto this unique toy too and most barns have a few training cones lying around for lessons. It’s an easily accessible and durable toy for most horses.
I know my horse and I must sound crazy, but we do enjoy “real toys” too. For example, Uncle Jimmy’s Licky Things — Samurai LOVES these. The first time I gave him one I didn’t buy a holder and just hung it in his stall. It was devoured in a matter of days, listening to him gnaw on it you would think he was chewing the barn down. They are definitely a distraction for a horse inside. Now I wised up and purchased the holder to help slow him down and make the treats last longer.
Sam must be slightly crazy because while he loves his Uncle Jimmy’s Licky Thing, he doesn’t like Likits. In fact they terrify him, but his neighbor has a Likit and loves it! To each horse his own.
Not all treats and toys have to be sugary though. Sam also has a Himalayan Salt Lick, one of the round ones on the rope. I knew a pony who would spin and play with his endlessly—I guess no one told him the salt was good for him!
Sam has taught me to think outside the box when it comes to play things. Your horse will tell you what he loves, likes, and hates.