Wednesday 5th February, 2014
While every horse stable must cater for your horse’s fundamental requirements while making tasks such as grooming easy to carry out and enjoyable for both you and your horse, it is also worthwhile to include some accessories in your horse stable inventory that will help you maintain a healthy and safe environment, provide a little extra stimulation for your horses, and keep them active and contented.
Stables are fairly dull places for horses, and it isn’t surprising that they can get a little bored being cooped up in them for hours on end. The answer to the problem is simple; buy your horses some new toys. There are many different kinds of toys to choose from, and some will appeal to certain horses more than others, but nobody knows your horse like you do, so select some that you know your horse will love to play with.
A toy that most horses seem to love is the Jolly Ball. This is a rubber ball with a handle that your horse can kick around, roll and chase. The handle makes it easy for your horse to grab the ball and throw it around; fortunately the ball is very durable. Jolly Balls are available in a variety of colours and you can choose a plain or scented one; scents include apple, blueberry, peppermint, and bubblegum.
It is well recognised in the equine world that horses kept alone in a stable tend to get quite lonely and that this can lead to various forms of delinquent behaviour and even health problems that are stress related. Although it doesn’t solve the problem in all cases, studies have shown that 50% of horses really do benefit from having a mirror in the stable. The benefits include more relaxed and generally happier horses which tend to abandon delinquent stable behaviours such as box crib biting, walking and weaving.
Naturally it is important to get the right kind of stable mirror; it must be unbreakable, for instance it should be made of acrylic or metal. You should install it in a position where you horse can easily see her reflection, which will make her feel that she has a companion.
While not every horse owner favours rubber mating, they can make our lives very much easier and have advantages for horses too. They can be used on their own or along with other bedding.
Rubber matting has many advantages. It provides non-slip protection and reduces the risk of casting while getting up from a concrete floor as normal bedding is easily scraped through; the grip is similar to getting up from the ground. It provides better insulation than straw and other bedding; it helps cushion the horse’s joints; it can result in a huge reduction in the amount of stable dust in the atmosphere; and it makes life a great deal easier when it comes to mucking out.
When a horse repeatedly sways from side to side moving its head and neck backwards and forwards the action is known as weaving. Many horses weave over the stall door and it can become a damaging habit which they will continue to do even when turned out. It is thought to show that your horse is unhappy and lonely and possible suffering from stress. Weaving can result in abnormal joint stress and hoof wear. It can also damage the stall floor.
One very effective solution is to install an anti-weaving grill. These come in various forms, and there are various bolt-on versions that can be removed when not required. They are very effective and can help break the weaving habit.
We all know how much our horses live to have a good scratch, but there is nothing like a scratch patch for making scratching an even more pleasurable experience. Scratch patch mats are rubber mats with rubber nodules specially designed for horses. You just attach one to your horses favourite secure scratching spot, for instance around your stable door frame, and your horse will be delighted when he scratches away those irritating itches.