How Horses Play
 By Saferaphus   •   14th Mar 2017   •   843 views   •   0 comments

Horses spend most of their time eating. In fact, about two-thirds of their day is spent searching for and ingesting food. Their sleep time is very short compared to ours. While most of us function well on about eight hours of sleep, most horses will sleep for only about three hours of the day. Some horses seem to sleep only about two hours out of 24. And, that sleep may be done in short segments and rarely at night unless they feel very safe and secure. The rest of their time may be spent traveling, especially if they are feral or wild and just hanging out socializing. While most horses spend most of their time attending to the business of living, many will take some time out for play.

Play behavior is most often seen in young horses. Foals will often gallop, kick out and rear up with and at each other. Foals are curious about their environment and their explorations of new objects they encounter can look like play. Foals will also Ďplayí with their mothers. They may look like they are being sassy as they nip kick out or shadow box at mom, and even rear up against her. While itís fun for us to watch these antics, for the foal, play isnít just a way to pass the time. Some important things are being learned along the way. They are learning body awareness, the boundaries of their environment, and in interactions with other horses, what is and is not acceptable horse behavior.

As they get older, horses usually become less playful. In older horses what looks like play can be blowing off energy. When you let them loose itís not unusual to wake up and stretch their muscles with some galloping and rough housing. This is what youíll see when you turn horses out in a pasture after a night of being stabled. And itís what you like to see them do before you saddle up and get on.

Older horses do indulge in play other than galloping and bucking off pent up energy. Many of us have experienced the frustration of broken halters and ripped turnout blankets that can happen when horses play tag over the fence. Two or more horses might play by kicking at each other, nipping and rearing, play acting the moves of two stallions sparring. These bouts of play fighting donít get serious, and it will usually be the same pair or group joining in the shenanigans, while their more sedate herd mates look on.

There are horses that stay playful throughout their lives. These horses will play with objects they find in the pasture. They love to splash in ponds or even the water trough. These are often the culprits when it comes to the halter and blanket destroying games. Any item that isnít firmly secured can be used as a toy. Buckets and feed tubs can become projectiles. And, they may love to pick up and carry anything they can get their teeth on. Donít leave manure forks, saddle pads, brushes or anything else within reach because they will collect them and trample them into the mud. Brooms, whips and other items will be brandished and dragged, sometimes terrifying their herd mates. These are the horses for whom things like playballs, tug toys and creative salt and treat dispensers were made for.

There has been a small amount of research into horse play and explored something called neonatancy in horses. Neonatancy is the carrying through of juvenile characteristics and behaviors into adulthood. We often find Ďbaby-facedí horses appealing, and it might explain why the Arabianís profile is so attractive to many of us. The tendency of some horses to be playful might be a sign of neonatancy too. And, this youthful curiosity and playfulness might be useful to us, or we can learn to work with a lack of playfulness in the horses we care for or train. Either way, acknowledging and perhaps encouraging or accommodating horse play helps us provide healthier environments for our horses, and certainly provides us with great entertainment.
Horse News More In This Category:  General      Horse News More From This Author:  Saferaphus
 More News by Saferaphus
Horse Body Language
24th Mar 2018   |   General   |   Saferaphus
When we think of communication, we think of talking, or at least making noises. We humans are a noisy bunch, and talking is most often our chosen way of making our thoughts known. Yes, we use body language but it often isnít consc ...
Horse Buns and Sweet Feed
20th Mar 2018   |   General   |   Saferaphus
So many news stories appear on feeds that just leave you shaking your head. Thieves, abusers and bad choices deserve large helpings of fresh horse buns. But, there are stories that help renew your faith that not everything is awfu ...
Horse Statuary
17th Mar 2018   |   General   |   Saferaphus
There is a distinction between equine and equestrian statues. Equine statues are statues of horses only. An example would be the bronze statue of Secretariat at Belmont Park, which shows Secretariat running freely with his mane an ...
What is So Cool About Horse Sweat
14th Mar 2018   |   General   |   Saferaphus
A long time ago, we believed that if a horse became lathered, it was a sign the horse was not fit. As it turns out, all horses will lather if they sweat a lot due to stress or hard work. A young or unfit horse probably just starts ...
Horse Braid Types
10th Mar 2018   |   General   |   Saferaphus
Braids in horseís manes and tails arenít just pretty, they have a practical purpose too. They prevent the mane becoming tangled in the reins, flying in the riderís face, and keeping the mane itself tangle free. For horses shown wi ...
Making Money with Horses
7th Mar 2018   |   General   |   Saferaphus
I was once told by a woman that as a youth rider, a company that specialized in equine health products used to throw money at her when she competed. Apparently for her, being sponsored by this company was the only way she could af ...
No Wild Horses Left
4th Mar 2018   |   General   |   Saferaphus
Pretty much everything written about Przewalski's horses in the last few decades has claimed that they were the last true wild horses on the planet. We call many horse populations wild such as Mustangs, but they are feral, descend ...
Free Horse Stuff and Giveaways
3rd Mar 2018   |   General   |   Saferaphus
Ferreting out contests for free horse gear, horses and other horse paraphernalia isnít easy, but if you do, there is some really great stuff to be won. Hereís a look at some of the contests and sweepstakes available to horse lover ...
  View All News by Saferaphus
©2002 - 2018   PonyBox LLC Create Account Terms & Conditions Privacy Contact Us
126 Members Online 239,137 Registered Members 2,407 News Articles 9,874,042 Unique News Article Views 214,127,403 Website Views