By Gillian Warner, National Youth Board
Horses show curiosity in a number of ways—from noticing something new to playing with a
friend in their field to playing with items around their stalls. Horses can also stay engaged through enrichment offered in their daily lives by their caretakers. So can we be doing more to encourage this curiosity?
By adding enrichment to their schedules, we can help engage our horses and stimulate their minds. Below, we offer a few approaches to take when considering how to make your horse’s day more interesting.
To begin with, ensuring that your horse has some other equine interaction is a great way to start.
As a herd animal, horses generally do well with companionship. If your horse is unable to be
turned out with other horses, being able to touch noses and groom each other through a fence can be beneficial.
Horses also spend most of their time grazing with their herd. As foragers, horses are built to eat
little bits throughout the day. Finding ways to prolong the eating process for stabled horses assists in creating a more natural schedule. Slow feeder hay nets, hay balls, or a variety of types of forage offered in a variety of locations can all add interest to your horse’s routine.
Additionally, creating opportunities for horses to problem solve for their food can keep a busy horse entertained. Try hanging snacks like apples and carrots, or creating a horse popsicle by filling a ground feeder with water, along with apples and carrots and freezing it. With this, your horse can stay focused on working for the food for a longer period of time.
Adding variety into their lives in other ways, such as adding scratching posts, various shelters, or
different paddock setups can also influence behavior and herd dynamics. Just one example would be track paddocks, which can encourage movement of herds.
Finally, finding new ways to work with your horse can challenge him to grow in new ways. By exploring new areas, testing out new skills, or mixing up your routine, your horse can find enrichment with you, too!