With winter often comes the blues. The shorter days and unpredictable weather can make it challenging for your horse to enjoy his normal routine, meaning you have to come up with new ways of entertaining him.
From creating fruit and vegetable kebabs to teaching your horse a trick or two, here are 7 ways you can be sure to keep your horse entertained this winter:
Teaching your horse new tricks is a fun way to entertain your horse this winter. It will keep him active, improve his circulation, and it’s a great way of bonding. You can have as much fun as you want with this one. Try teaching your horse some simple commands like bowing his head or touching an item with his nose. Have lots of treats to hand and give him plenty of love and praise.
Spending more time in the stable over the cold, wet months can be dull for horses. Split your horse’s usual amount of hay or haylage between a haynet, the floor, and you could even look at purchasing a hay ball if you think your horse would enjoy this. It will keep your horse busy, prevent boredom, and make them feel more relaxed in their environment.
You can also take this opportunity to observe your horse’s behaviour. The speed at which your horse eats is a good indicator as to how he is feeling. Try and make a mental note of what is a ‘normal’ speed for your horse to then be able to notice any fluctuations in this as an indicator that he may not be feeling himself.
To keep Skye entertained, I cut up apples and carrots then hide them through his haynet.
– KBIS Policyholder Jess Rowe, owner of Skye
We love this suggestion from horse insurance policyholder Jess! Something for your horse to get busy rummaging around for or just a nice bonus when he comes across a treat without expecting it!
Change the Scenery
Whilst the ground may not be brilliant, you can still venture out with your horse this winter. Find some new bridlepaths or just have a leg stretch down the lane, your horse will appreciate the change of scenery! If you haven’t the time to tack up before the light goes, a hand walk provides an excellent opportunity for bonding in the fresh air without the need for time to tack up. Just don’t forget to dress your horse warmly and use hi-vis for safety!
If you think your horse might be a bit too enthusiastic about heading off the yard, pop a bridle on for added control. Alternatively, you could try some in hand pole work in the arena/field. This allows you to do something different with your horse but with the security of closing the gate behind you.
Grooming your horse in winter is another way to spend quality time together, but it is also essential for their health. Remove rugs regularly and get rid of any dirt, dust and mud that has built up. Brush your horse’s mane and tail regularly and spritz them with waterless shampoo to keep them clean. You can also use this time to find your horse’s favourite ‘scratch spot’. Knowing where your horse loves to be scratched has a calming effect on your horse. This could even help when reinforcing good behaviour.
Fruit and Veg Kebabs
Make your horse a fruit and vegetable kebab to get him thinking in his stable. All you need is some baling twine and some treats. You could include carrots, apples, swede, celeriac, parsnips – any of these that you have in the fridge. This will really keep your horse busy.
Pop a couple of apples in your horse’s water bucket. This will not only keep him entertained but also encourage him to drink more, something that is just as important through the winter as it is at warmer points in the year.
Make the most of this time and enjoy each other’s company – the longer days are on the horizon!