Five Steps to a Happy Horse
 By Winniefield Park   •   21st Jun 2015   •   1,356 views   •   0 comments
Five Steps to a Happy Horse

It isnít hard to tell when a horse is unhappy. An unhappy horse will be the one that is stall or fence walking, weaving, cribbing or biting and kicking its stall door every time someone walks by. Keeping a horse happy isnít hard. All you need to do is supply a few basics. Hereís how to have a happy horse.

Give Me Land, Lots of Land
Remember the little article about my incorrect theory about electric fencing. The study that proved electric fencing wasnít stressful did result in the researcher's finding out that horses are more comfortable in larger areas than smaller. Yes, horses, some more than others, can learn to like their stall, but for the most part, our horses are happiest when they have lots of space to live in. Horses that are kept cooped up can develop health and behavior problems. Lots of space means they can pick the coolest or warmest areas to hang out in, have lots of room to play and lay down, and will self-exercise because they have to travel to get to their favorite watering, eating and hang out spots. In fact, I wonder if the song Donít Fence Me In was secretly written by a horse.

Related: Does Electric Fencing Increase Stress On My Horse

Food, Glorious Food
Most of us like to eat. Our horses are no different. In the wild, horses spend most of their time grazing or searching for food. In our stables and pastures, the best thing for them to eat is their natural food source, grass. Of course, this isnít always possible. Good quality hay is the next best alternative. Some horses will eat too much, leading to obesity and all its accompanying health hazards. So, we have to find a way to dole out the meals in small portions, and feed hay that isnít too rich. Lots of small meals during the day will keep your horse happy.

Related: How Overfeeding Causes Laminitis

Thank You For Being a Friend
The saddest horse Iíve ever seen was one that lived in a paddock with a run-in attached to a cattle barn. For years, Iíd drive by and there would be the horse, standing with its head out the shed door, all alone. It was a forlorn sight.

Your horse will thank you for providing a friend. Horses are happiest when they have companions, preferably of their own kind. Horses are herd animals, and they feel most secure when living in a small group. The group will have a leader, and there will be a pecking order. Sometimes horses challenge the pecking order, but often they accept their position, and are comfortable living within it.

If you canít have at least one other horse to be a friend to yours, a goat or even a chicken might suffice. And be sure to spend as much time with your horse as you can. Grooming your horse mimics allogrooming that horses do between themselves. Even riding, teaching tricks or just hanging out helps to give your horse a diversion, and can make it feel less alone.

Related: Odd Companions For Horses

Over and Over
Sometimes we get bored doing the same thing over and over, but your horse will probably feel most comfortable if you stick to a regular routine. Horses are creatures of habit and like to eat, drink, be active and rest at regular intervals during the day. Try to keep feeding, riding and turnout schedules consistent for a happy horse. Also, our own habits of handling should be routine. Horseís donít really like surprises and even small things like not being consistent about your rein aids can rattle them.
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