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Boredom Busters for Horses

Boredom Busters for Horses

Step into the stable, where the gentle flick of a tail and the soft shuffle of hooves tell a story of waiting. Waiting for something, anything, to break the monotony of the day. 

It’s a silent plea we often miss, a call for engagement in a world confined by paddocks and stalls. This isn’t just about filling time. It’s about enriching lives and sparking joy in the eyes of our majestic friends. 

Welcome to our treasure trove of boredom busters for horses. This is a guide brimming with creative, fun, and safe ways to keep your equine friend engaged, happy, and healthy. 

Ready to dive in? Your horse certainly is.

Horse Boredom Busters

  1. KONG hanging set & KONG equine classic
  2. Ball feeder horse toy
  3. Jolly ball horse toy
  4. Jolly apple horse toy
  5. Likit toys
  6. Jolly stall snack system
  7. Carrot ball horse toy
  8. Slow-feed hay nets
  9. Burlingham hay ball feeder
  10. The equine scratcher
  11. Try a mirror
  12. Grooming
  13. Try traffic cones

What is Horse Boredom

Horse boredom is a state of mind in horses that results from a lack of stimulation, or interaction in their daily routines. It’s common in domestic horses that are confined to stables or small paddocks for long periods.

Unlike their wild counterparts, who roam freely, domestic horses face a more monotonous existence, which can lead to boredom.

Causes of Horse Boredom

Horse boredom can stem from several factors, including:

Limited social interaction.  Horses are inherently social creatures that thrive on interaction with other horses. Isolation can lead to feelings of loneliness and boredom.

Confinement. Spending excessive time in a stall without adequate space to roam, explore, or interact with varied environments.

Lack of mental stimulation. Repetitive challenging routines that do not engage the horse’s natural curiosity and intelligence.

Restricted foraging. Limited access to foraging opportunities, which are crucial for mental engagement satisfaction.

Signs of Boredom in Horses

Recognizing boredom in horses is crucial for their well-being. Some common signs include:

Development of stereotypies. Repetitive, seemingly purposeless behaviors such as weaving, cribbing, or stall walking.

Lack of interest. Apathy towards surroundings, people, or activities that would normally engage or interest them.

Excessive licking or chewing. On non-food materials, which can indicate a need for more stimulation.

Behavior change. Increased aggression or irritation, changes in eating habits, or showing signs of depression.

13 Boredom Busters for Horses

Alleviating boredom is essential for the physical and mental health of horses. This can be achieved through:

1. KONG hanging set & KONG equine classic

These are durable toys designed to keep horses engaged and entertained. These toys can be filled with treats or feed, encouraging horses to spend time figuring out how to release their contents. 

Hanging the toy increases the challenge, as it swings and moves with each nudge from the horse. This mimics the unpredictability of natural foraging. 

This activity combats boredom and promotes mental stimulation and physical exercise. In turn, their stress levels and issues related to inactivity reduce.

2. Ball feeder horse toy

A ball feeder horse toy is a simple yet effective solution for boredom. It’s a ball that dispenses treats or feeds as the horse rolls it around. 

The design encourages natural foraging behavior, making mealtime both a physical and mental exercise. This toy is especially beneficial in promoting movement and can be used in both stalls and paddocks. 

It’s a fun way to keep horses occupied, encouraging them to think and move.

3. Jolly ball horse toy

The Jolly Ball is a versatile, durable toy designed for horses. Unlike many other toys, it doesn’t need air to inflate, so it can withstand biting and rough play. 

Horses can kick, bite, and toss the Jolly Ball around, which helps to keep them entertained and active. This toy is useful for horses that spend a lot of time alone, providing them with a form of entertainment.

4. Jolly Apple horse toy

The Jolly Apple horse toy is shaped like an apple and infused with apple scent. This makes it irresistible to many horses. 

It’s designed to be durable, and able to withstand bites and kicks. The toy can be hung in the stall or used on the ground, providing versatile play options. 

The Jolly Apple is excellent for engaging a horse’s senses and encouraging playful behavior. 

5. Likit toys

Likit toys entertain horses while also catering to their natural licking instinct. These toys can hold flavored lickable treats, challenging horses to figure out how to access them. 

They are available in various forms, including hanging toys and stationary holders. Likit toys provide long-lasting entertainment and are great for reducing boredom and stress. 

6. Jolly stall snack system

The Jolly Stall Snack System combines a durable, flavored snack ball with a hanging toy. This offers horses a multi-sensory entertainment option. 

It’s designed to keep horses occupied for hours, stimulating their minds and satisfying their urge to nibble. This system not only helps in preventing boredom but also aids in managing stress levels.

7. Carrot ball horse toy

The Carrot Ball horse toy is a unique enrichment tool that encourages horses to play to receive their treats. You can fill the ball with carrots or other treats, and horses will have to push, nuzzle, and manipulate the ball to release them. 

This toy promotes natural foraging behavior and provides physical and mental exercise, helping to keep boredom at bay. 

8. Slow-feed hay nets

Slow-feed hay nets are designed to extend feeding times and mimic natural grazing patterns. By making hay harder to pull out, these nets encourage horses to eat slowly. 

This can help improve digestion and reduce the risk of gastric issues. Moreover, slow-feed hay nets keep horses occupied for longer periods.

Read also: How to treat ulcers in horses naturally

9. Burlingham hay ball feeder

The Burlingham hay ball feeder aims to keep horses entertained while feeding. This feeder allows hay to be dispensed as the horse manipulates the ball around their enclosure. 

It promotes natural foraging behavior and provides a fun and stimulating way to feed. The movement involved in getting the hay out keeps the horse active, reduces boredom, and encourages physical exercise. 

10. The equine scratcher

The Equine Scratcher is a wall-mounted panel that horses can use to safely scratch themselves. This tool is helpful in stables where horses might not have access to natural scratching posts. 

It provides relief and pleasure, reducing stress and boredom by allowing horses to engage in self-grooming behavior. It’s a simple addition to any stall or paddock and can enhance a horse’s well-being.

11. Try a mirror

Introducing a mirror into a horse’s environment can provide fascinating enrichment. 

Horses often find their reflections intriguing. This can reduce feelings of isolation and boredom, especially for those housed alone. 

A mirror can simulate the presence of another horse, offering comfort and visual stimulation. However, ensure the mirror is safely installed to prevent injury.

12. Grooming

Regular grooming sessions are not just about keeping horses clean. They’re also a great way to provide mental stimulation and strengthen bonds. 

Grooming mimics the social interactions horses would naturally engage in with herd mates. These sessions can be a calming routine that horses look forward to, breaking up the monotony of their day.

13. Try traffic cones

Traffic cones can be an unexpected but effective boredom buster for horses. They can be used to create obstacle courses, encourage exploration, or serve as novel objects for investigation. 

Horses can push, kick, and explore these cones, providing physical exercise and mental stimulation. This kind of enrichment encourages curiosity in the horses.

Safety Measures When Combating Boredom in Horses

Always ensure that the activities and toys you provide for your horse are safe and appropriate. Safety measures prevent injuries and ensure that your efforts to combat boredom are effective and secure. 

Here are key safety considerations:

Inspect toys and equipment regularly. Before introducing any new toy or equipment, inspect it for potential hazards. Regularly check these items for wear and tear, and replace or repair them as necessary to prevent accidents.

Choose appropriate toys. Select toys that are designed for horses, as they are made to withstand the strength and size of horses. Avoid toys meant for dogs or other animals, as they can pose choking hazards or may contain materials that are not safe for horses to chew on.

Monitor first introductions. When introducing a new toy or activity, monitor your horse’s interactions with it. Some horses may become overly excited or even fearful, which could lead to accidental injury. Supervision ensures you can intervene if necessary and helps you gauge your horse’s interest. 

Use mirrors carefully. If you decide to use a mirror, ensure it’s made from a safe, shatterproof material and securely mounted to prevent it from falling or breaking.

Ensure edible toys are safe. When using feeders, puzzle toys, or treats to combat boredom, make sure they are suitable for equine digestion. Additionally, edible toys should not replace a balanced diet but rather complement it.

Stable and paddock safety. Ensure the environment where horses play or interact with enrichment items is safe and free from hazards. 

Vary activities gradually. Introduce new activities and toys to avoid overwhelming your horse. Sudden changes in routine can cause stress or lead to behavioral issues. A gradual approach allows horses to adapt and enjoy new experiences without anxiety.

Consider individual needs. Every horse is unique, with its preferences, fears, and behaviors. What works for one horse may not work for another. Tailor enrichment activities to suit the individual needs of each horse.

Securely fasten hanging toys. When using hanging toys or feeders, ensure they are securely fastened and positioned at a safe height. This prevents them from becoming a strangulation hazard.

Use feeders that prevent overeating. When utilizing slow feeders or puzzle feeders to combat boredom, choose designs that encourage slow eating without causing overeating.


Fighting horse boredom goes beyond just activities. It’s about the deep connection with our horses. Each toy, from Jolly Balls to mirrors, helps us get closer to and enrich their lives. 

Let’s keep this energy going. Make every moment in the paddock or stable show our love and dedication. Remember, your relationship with your horse is key to overcoming boredom. 

With new ideas and enthusiasm, let’s commit to a lively, caring environment for them. A lively stable isn’t just a dream. It’s a journey we’re on together, step by step.

Picture of Dr. Noman Tariq

Dr. Noman Tariq

Dr. Noman Tariq, a seasoned veterinarian with a DVM from ARID University and an MPhil in Animal Nutrition from UVAS, specializes in equine health. His deep passion for horse nutrition and well-being drives his work, offering invaluable advice for horse owners. Dr. Tariq's expertise ensures horses lead vibrant, healthy lives.
You can read my full bio here

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Boredom Busters for Horses