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Bored smart/curious horse, what to do?

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  • Bored smart/curious horse, what to do?

    My horse is a coming 5 year old and very smart. He is turned out at night on a dirt lot and has recently begun chewing down the fence to get to grass on the other side. I bought a hay bag to put out at night to solve that problem, and it's helped.

    In the stall, however, I've seen him perform a compulsive behavior that bothers me. He stands parallel to the door and twists his head/neck to the side to grab at the door. He doesn't crib or bite it, he barely makes contact with it sometimes. It's only for a minute or two at a time but the fact that I've seen it bothers me.

    I have to think that he's bored. He doesn't get free-choice hay all the time but does get fed quite a bit of it throughout the day in the stall. I do not think he has ulcers or any other physical ailment.
    I've made milk jug toys to hang, and he was thrilled with it for the first 2 days, then lost interest.

    He likes the molasses Likit treats but it's hard to find the physical toys to put in the stalls. I bought a Jolly Stall Snack setup, and he has zero interest in the flavor it came with. I will try to order the molasses one. However, these treats are expensive!

    Does anyone have any ideas for things that won't break the bank? I know I could spend more on more hay per month (beyond what board covers) but I'm not sure that's the best option right now. He ignores jolly balls in the stall, is very picky as to flavors of treats, and I'm fretting over this behavior.

    Thank you for any ideas.

  • #2
    Our horses seem to really enjoy the slow feed hay nets. A couple of flakes of hay keep them entertained for hours. I hang them on their window sills and they look out and munch. You can get them in all sizes. But the little holes make them work at it, kind of satisfies their grazing needs, and they can eat for a long time without getting fat! Hmmm, maybe they could come up with a people version
    Lilykoi


    Hell hath no fury like the chestnut thoroughbred mare

    Comment


    • #3
      He is turned out at night on a dirt lot and has recently begun chewing down the fence to get to grass on the other side. I bought a hay bag to put out at night to solve that problem, and it's helped.
      The fact that providing hay to him has helped with deterring him from chewing on the fence says to me that lack of hay is indeed part of the problem (whether that be from bordom or needing forage in his stomach).

      I do not think he has ulcers or any other physical ailment.
      Not yet, but if he is standing around on a dry lot all night without hay, it may create some issues. Horses produce stomach acid whether they are eating or not. Standing around that long without forage is not helpful in keeping a gut healthy.

      ETA: agree with small hole hay nets. Keeps hay there all the time, without them bolting it down only to stand around aftewards. THey can "graze" from the nets. My horses prefer the nets over eating loose hay now.
      "If you think nobody cares about you, try missing a couple payments..."

      Comment


      • #4
        I totally agree with the slow-feed hay net idea!

        I purchased an Amazing Graze when my horses were in boarding barn h*ll and not getting enough hay/turnout. My horses LOVED it. I used it with hay cubes.
        Don't fall for a girl who fell for a horse just to be number two in her world... ~EFO

        Comment


        • #5
          My horse was the same way in stalls whenever we were at horse shows (he's turned out 24/7 at home with a round bale). He always had hay to eat to stop his neurotic behaviour, especially at night, so I'd definitely suggest a small-hole hay net to occupy your guy.

          Mine didn't like likits either, but he loved the peppermint scented jollyball. He'd throw it around and bounce it off the walls and even played tug of war with it.

          Another good toy was the 'Uncle Jimmy Hanging Balls". Huge balls of molasses and sweet feed, and other goodies. If you hang it away from the walls, they'll spend hours trying to lick/scrape the sides of the ball. My horse loves them and one kept him occupied for ages.

          Comment


          • #6
            Was he just standing in an empty dry lot with nothing to eat at night before you put the small hole hay net out there? I think most horses would try to get to the grass outside the fence in that circumstance. That's a long time to stand out there with no food and nothing to do!

            I totally agree that you should do whatever it takes to keep hay in front of him at all times...small hole hay net might be the best option (in turnout and in the stall).

            Comment


            • #7
              Small hole hay nets, like many have suggested are awesome. But as for toys, I've had good luck hanging a milk jug with a few rocks in it and even a soccer ball in their stalls. Give them something to bat around if they're actually bored and not just hungry. Makes a racket sometimes though

              Comment


              • #8
                Is there a reason he is out without hay for such a long period of time? Can you not decrease his grain, and increase his hay?

                Hay bellies are cured by work.
                Some riders change their horse, they change their saddle, they change their teacher; they never change themselves.

                Remember the horse does all the work, we just sit there and look pretty.

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                • Original Poster

                  #9
                  He is without hay for longer periods of time because he scarfs down the hay pretty quickly. He can eat 2 flakes in an hour or two sometimes. That's just how he eats. I can try to decrease his grain some but he is still growing and is holding his weight well on this current regimen. He's on Seminole Perform Safe pellets.

                  My local feed store advisor also said a hay net with small holes is a great idea, so I just ordered one of these:
                  http://www.busyhorse.com/busybuffetextraslow.html
                  We'll see how it works! I'll refill his milk jug with rocks in the meantime

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    Why can't he be outside instead of in a stall?
                    Click here before you buy.

                    Comment

                    • Original Poster

                      #11
                      Originally posted by deltawave View Post
                      Why can't he be outside instead of in a stall?
                      The turnout that is available to us is a dry lot paddock, and while there is shade for a portion of the day (provided by shadows from a treeline and trees), it gets VERY HOT in South Florida in the summer... The flies are horrible, and the turnout isn't *huge*. It's a good enough size he can gallop around a little and stretch his legs, but it's not enormous. It's cooler in the stall, he has a fan, and the bugs don't eat him alive. If I had him on a different property with large grass paddocks and a run-in, it might be different.
                      Last edited by Pancakes; May. 2, 2013, 11:42 AM.

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                      • #12
                        Originally posted by Pancakes View Post
                        The turnout that is available to us is a dry lot paddock, and while there is shade for a portion of the day (provided by shadows from a treeline and trees), it gets VERY HOT in South Florida in the summer... The flies are horrible, and the turnout isn't *huge*. It's a good enough size he can gallop around a little and stretch his legs, but it's not enormous. It's cooler in the stall, he has a fan, and the buys don't eat him alive. If I had him on a different property with large grass paddocks and a run-in, it might be different.
                        Does he have a buddy in turn-out?

                        I'd be moving my horse to a different place, regardless. Your current place sounds like a perfect set-up for neuroses and ulcers.

                        Comment

                        • Original Poster

                          #13
                          Originally posted by grayarabpony View Post
                          Does he have a buddy in turn-out?

                          I'd be moving my horse to a different place, regardless. Your current place sounds like a perfect set-up for neuroses and ulcers.
                          I really don't want to move to a different place if I don't have to. My trainer is here, the facility is huge and has many amenities - 7 rings, miles of trails, lots of areas to ride and explore, and there are many many horses at this facility that do just fine. This is an adjustment for him, as he was a stallion on continuous night turnout in a grass paddock by himself before he came to me. He does go out every night here, however. He is now gelded and in a regular program; he gets ridden 3-6 times a week. We are going to start turning him out with a buddy, and that should help too. But he was only gelded a few months ago, then had complications from the gelding that necessitated stall rest, and now he's healed. So things are starting to get back to "normal." And yeah, they're different from what he had before.

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            Keep hay in front of him 24/7. Switch to a ration balancer if that is too many calories with free choice hay.
                            McDowell Racing Stables

                            Home Away From Home

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              tAKE a bar of nasty soap (coast) and rub it good on all the areas of fence. This cured my 2 horses, and it's cheap

                              Comment


                              • #16
                                Originally posted by Pancakes View Post
                                I really don't want to move to a different place if I don't have to. My trainer is here, the facility is huge and has many amenities - 7 rings, miles of trails, lots of areas to ride and explore, and there are many many horses at this facility that do just fine. This is an adjustment for him, as he was a stallion on continuous night turnout in a grass paddock by himself before he came to me. He does go out every night here, however. He is now gelded and in a regular program; he gets ridden 3-6 times a week. We are going to start turning him out with a buddy, and that should help too. But he was only gelded a few months ago, then had complications from the gelding that necessitated stall rest, and now he's healed. So things are starting to get back to "normal." And yeah, they're different from what he had before.
                                Well, he definitely needs something different, judging from your description, regardless of "many many" horses doing "fine". He needs social interaction and he needs more forage. The buddy and a way to keep hay in front of him should help him a lot.

                                Comment


                                • #17
                                  I bought one of those $8 plastic apple toys, drilled a big hole in it ( well had to drill multiple small holes to get the opening big enough) and I fill it with alfalfa cubes every day. Keeps my girl entertained.

                                  One one of these things, I couldn't quite stomach the $60 amazing graze.
                                  http://www.jefferspet.com/jolly-appl.../equ/cp/H7-J1/

                                  Comment


                                  • #18
                                    Originally posted by grayarabpony View Post
                                    Well, he definitely needs something different, judging from your description, regardless of "many many" horses doing "fine". He needs social interaction and he needs more forage. The buddy and a way to keep hay in front of him should help him a lot.
                                    Agreed with GAP... That situation also doesn't work for many horses but if you really want to stay you can make it better. How many flakes does he get total? My horses can also easily do 1-2 flakes in an hour... I throw enough out so that there is still a bit left when I come back to give them more. They live at home and are out 24/7 but even in your situation that could be accomplished. I would thrown your normal hay amount and then put more in that hay net. Unless he is overweight, your goal should be to have hay in front of him constantly. That is the natural way for them to stay occupied constantly.

                                    I also love the Uncle Jimmy's Hanging Balls and it helped my mare on stall rest quite a bit, they love them!

                                    Comment

                                    • Original Poster

                                      #19
                                      Thanks everyone. It really helps to hear what works for everyone and to know I'm maybe on the right track. I will try the Uncle Jimmy's for a treat. Hopefully the grazing net will help, and I'll talk to my trainer about increasing his total hay. He is not overweight but he is growing still, so I am a little nervous about cutting back the pellets and increasing the hay (to balance out cost). If I have to add a ration balancer I guess I will. I'll also try to push to have him out with another horse starting this week. I know that will definitely help; he is very interested in other horses and has been friendly to this point.

                                      Hopefully between the grazing hay net, some occasional treats, and a buddy, we can make it work for him.

                                      Comment


                                      • #20
                                        You wouldn't necessarily have to add an RB, after all the forage he may only need that. No matter the age, forage is always the best to draw nutrients from... Grain added if they need more calories, RB to prevent deficiencies.

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