Occupying a stabled horse

You may like to try some of the options suggested below to relieve the boredom of a horse who is confined to their stable. We would always encourage people to turn their horses out as much as possible, but these tips might be help if you have to keep your horse stabled for a particular reason. You can find more advice on whether you should stable your horse here.
 

Shetland ponies with ball

Please be aware that not all things will work for all horses – it depends entirely on the individual horse’s nature and the circumstances.

 

  • Make sure your horse can see others nearby
     
  • Give them a football to play with
     
  • Have a radio on in the background
     
  • Fit a stable mirror
     
  • Give them some stable toys to play with – a wide variety are available, from those which you fill with feed or treats so the horse can push the toy round to get the food out, to those which you hang from the ceiling. N.B. Please be aware in the case of toys which are hung up that you will need to take care when moving round the box so that you don’t hurt yourself on them, particularly if they are at head height.  Some horses have even been known to cheekily swing the toy in their owner’s direction!
     
  • Bore a hole through a swede or turnip and hang it on a string from the ceiling. Again, please do be aware of this when in the box yourself
     
  • Horses have evolved to eat for at least 16 hours a day so making sure they have enough to eat can be an excellent way to relieve boredom.  If you are worried about their waistline and need to restrict the quantity of food they get, try using a small-holed net to slow down their eating.  For more tips on getting bulk without calories, visit our Right Weight advice page
     
  • Spread feeds through the day wherever possible, so your horse receives his or her food in a larger number of small feeds to break the day up
     
  • Exercise your horse by going for a ride or by walking your horse out in-hand – but only if appropriate and safe to do so
     
  • Provide a vitamin/mineral lick
     
  • Spend time grooming your horse


Something else to consider is the nutritional requirements of a stabled horse or pony. Whatever he or she was doing before being confined to the stable - for whatever reason - their feeding regime will need to be altered accordingly. You may like to watch a talk by expert Dr Teresa Hollands about feeding appropriately. For more advice, visit our page on feeding horses.