What do you do to keep a horse entertained when he’s confined to a stable for his own good? We often get calls from people needing portable horse yard panels as they’re got to confine their injured horses to a small area. In some instances this can be for not just days but months. I got a call today asking about prices of our portable horse yards as this lady’s horse is going to have to be confined for 6-12 months following surgery. She mentioned that he was going to go crazy being confined in a stable and I recalled a few boredom busters I’d heard about and thought I’d share them – including a recipe for boredom buster balls for horses.
1. Hang a plastic milk bottle from a chain somewhere where your horse can play with it. My mare when bored decided to ‘eat’ her timber stable panels so she could talk to her buddy next door. When she was given a plastic bottle hung over the gaping panels, she spent more time playing with the bottle than chewing through the timber boards. I’ve also heard of a variation where the bottle with a small hole in the bottom is filled with molasses. The horses spend hours trying to lick off the molasses.
2. Give them a (cheap) exercise ball to play with. Some horses might find this interesting, a bit like they do knocking their feed bins around their paddock and down the hill (usually to the furthest corner away from the gate). If they’re not interested try putting a smear of molasses on it and see what happens.
3. Make ‘Boredom Buster Balls, here’s the recipe:
EQUINE BORDEM BUSTER BALLS
2 cups molasses
1 cup sugar
around 3 cups dry cereal – oats, lupins, chaff etc.
1m thin chain and locking device
Small amount of flour for dusting hands.
In a double boiler cook the molasses, butter and sugar stirring occasionaly. After 5-10 mins take a teaspoon full and place into a glass of COLD water. If the mixture forms a hard ball it is ready. Remove from heat as this will soon burn. If not keep trying every minute or so in the cold water until it does.
When ready place the mixture into the dry ingredients and mix. Once cool enough to touch with your hands, but still quite warm, lightly flour your hands and take a large hand full and make into a ball around the bottom of the chain. This mixture will set quickly so work fast.
Try and make to ball as rounded and smooth as you can, any chunky bits will give the horse a chance to take a bite and it wont last long.
Once the ball is formed, allow to dry and cool completely, it will set rock hard.
NOTE: Leave it for an hour or so as the outside may feel cool but it could still be very hot inside. Only when ABSOLUTELY cool, take out and attach it around a stable beam or tree branch using a very secure lock so the chain can’t come off. The ball will swing in the air whilst the horse takes licks.
If your horse is going to be locked up for a while it might be worth making a few of these at the same time.
If you’ve got any other suggestions please add to this list as others may find it helpful.