Paddock Enrichment Ideas? - The Horse Forum
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post #1 of 26 Old 09-09-2019, 05:11 PM Thread Starter
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Lightbulb Paddock Enrichment Ideas?

I want to add something(s) to my horse's paddock for her enrichment. Anything that is safe and will give her something to do.

At this time, pasture board is not available and she is in a large dirt paddock with a BIG stall attached. She takes dirt baths, naps, and is fed three times per day. I visit her almost every evening and we train or just go for a walk or sometimes have an epic grooming/back scratch session.

I have asked the stable owners if I can hang a feeding net - I mean to hang it LOW, not up high, and it could even dangle into her very large on-ground manger. It would slow her eating and give her something to do while she eats. They say no (they think she'll eat the bag). I asked if I could hang a home made treat mobile made of twine, apples, and carrots. They said no (because they think she'll eat the twine). Could I hang a ball or other toy in her stall? Nope. They don't like them. *sigh*

They offered a jolly ball, which was promptly kicked into the neighboring horse's paddock and not returned. This weekend I added a small traffic cone (the top part is cut off, so it's short and blunt) to see if she likes that.

Her paddock is surrounded by hot wire, so anything small that rolls will roll right into the neighboring paddock. OK, so how about a BIG ball? I am looking for one that doesn't have terrible ratings saying it broke within two days.

I caught her cribbing, just a bit, the other day. That's not OK. I want her to have things to play with in her paddock. I don't like the restrictions the stable managers have.

Any ideas??
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post #2 of 26 Old 09-09-2019, 05:34 PM
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A hanging salt lick?

I wonder if there's any sort of cow bell type thing that would be safe, like you could hang it up and she could ring it. But I guess either one of these options involves twine, so it sounds like that would be a no-go with your barn.
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post #3 of 26 Old 09-09-2019, 07:08 PM
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A friend! I do not believe it's reasonable to keep horses in solitary as a rule.

Cribbing, IMO from the research I've seen, is not just to do with boredom but is indicative of gut upsets. If she is eating her hay ration quickly & then going hungry for long periods, that will do it, so a slow feed net is one good option. If you put it on/near the ground, ensure there's no way she can possibly get a foot caught in it. Don't risk it if she's shod. Or hang it high enough she won't get her foot in it.
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post #4 of 26 Old 09-09-2019, 07:12 PM
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Slow feed net fastened in a small stock tank. Use the extra-small hole kind.

Giant ball.

Pony (by far the best idea).

Meanwhile look a different place where she will be happier.
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post #5 of 26 Old 09-09-2019, 07:25 PM
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New place.

Honestly, though, they don't allow you to hang a hay bag for your own horse??? What the heck ???

There is a huge variety of very sturdy small hole hay nets that have been used safely for many years and thousands of horses. With to many benefits to count. Just make sure it hangs so they can't tangle in nothing or paw at it. Then its no "un-safer" then the very fence she is behind and snacking on.

To me, this would be non negotiable.

My mare is in the very setup you describe. She has a large paddock with a large attached stall (open door always). I hang 3 slow down hay nets. Well, 2 are fastened in huge rubber totes so she eats with he head down and one I hang. I have several areas I can move those totes and bags too (made hooks) depending on the weather, inside, outside, shade, sun, etc. She moves nonstop from one bag to another, "grazing" along. It makes a HUGE difference to their physical and mental health.

Hay bags will NOT damage their property and it is YOUR horse. Its non of their business to decide what is dangerous to your horse, unless it is dangerous to their property or themselves. Your horse would benefit greatly from a couple of bags to move in between and it would be all the enrichment she needs. Nothing else can take its place, really. There are some "treat balls" that dispense treats when rolled but honestly, I have yet to find a mare (unless young) that "wastes" much time at playing, LOL.

Have another talk with the barn owners, tell them it is affecting your horse negatively not to have something to chew on between feedings and you want to provide slow down haynets. I find it hard to believe they would rather throw you out. And if they do, well, that is not a place I would stay at anyway.
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post #6 of 26 Old 09-10-2019, 12:22 AM
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I agree with the above posts - FRIENDS, or get out of there! Equine socialization is very important to a horse's mental wellbeing! Whether or not this includes moving to a new place is ultimately your decision, but you should really talk to the owners about letting her share her paddock with someone else's horse. If they say no to that, I would personally be leaving at that point, because I do not think solitary confinement without any enrichment is acceptable. Beyond that, it really shows the state of mind of the stable owners, that all horses need to live alone in bubbles even if it drives them insane and even can make them dangers to themselves or others. I would not find that acceptable at all, especially if I'm paying THEM for MY horse to stay there each month.
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post #7 of 26 Old 09-10-2019, 10:47 AM
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curious about this bin set up. Would you be able to post a photo?

Quote:
Originally Posted by lhoward31 View Post
New place.

Honestly, though, they don't allow you to hang a hay bag for your own horse??? What the heck ???

There is a huge variety of very sturdy small hole hay nets that have been used safely for many years and thousands of horses. With to many benefits to count. Just make sure it hangs so they can't tangle in nothing or paw at it. Then its no "un-safer" then the very fence she is behind and snacking on.

To me, this would be non negotiable.

My mare is in the very setup you describe. She has a large paddock with a large attached stall (open door always). I hang 3 slow down hay nets. Well, 2 are fastened in huge rubber totes so she eats with he head down and one I hang. I have several areas I can move those totes and bags too (made hooks) depending on the weather, inside, outside, shade, sun, etc. She moves nonstop from one bag to another, "grazing" along. It makes a HUGE difference to their physical and mental health.

Hay bags will NOT damage their property and it is YOUR horse. Its non of their business to decide what is dangerous to your horse, unless it is dangerous to their property or themselves. Your horse would benefit greatly from a couple of bags to move in between and it would be all the enrichment she needs. Nothing else can take its place, really. There are some "treat balls" that dispense treats when rolled but honestly, I have yet to find a mare (unless young) that "wastes" much time at playing, LOL.

Have another talk with the barn owners, tell them it is affecting your horse negatively not to have something to chew on between feedings and you want to provide slow down haynets. I find it hard to believe they would rather throw you out. And if they do, well, that is not a place I would stay at anyway.
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post #8 of 26 Old 09-10-2019, 12:48 PM
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I have an acquaintance that sometimes rides with me. Her horse, Hondo, is a pocket horse, never met a stranger, and he's super sharp. Dead clever.


She thought she was just giving him something to do when she hung a cow bell in his pasture and taught him to ring the bell to get feed.


Then every time Hondo saw her husband, he'd ring the bell to summon his servant. Husband gets put out with the horse constantly ringing the cowbell to summon him. Tells wife, You Gotta Do Something About that... so she bought a bunch of pool noodles, built a rack kind of thing, and suspended all the pool noodles vertically, and hides the cow bell within them. He has to find the cowbell to get to ring it. She moves it around to a new place every so often, so he has to go find it, and ring it to get his feed.


She said he'll hunt and hunt, thump a noodle with his nose, head pops up and around the rack of pool noodles as if he's saying: Was that it!?


Nope.

He looks at her like: Dang it.



Then goes back to hunting for the bell in the pool noodles.


She also keeps him a jollyball, and is teaching him to do 'tricks' like stand his own feed trough or water trough up if he knocks them over.


Side note: She paid 75.00 for him as a weanling at a livestock auction. His color sold him - he's grown in a massive dark buckskin paint. He's a hoot, and I just love it when they ride with us. He has a big personality to match his size and color.

"We are here to laugh at the odds and live our lives so well that death will tremble to take us."
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post #9 of 26 Old 09-10-2019, 02:21 PM
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Their barn. Their say. Low hanging nets can be a safety hazard. Hanging objects depending on how you attach and what you are attaching it to can be a safety hazard. What you use to attach it can be a safety hazard. Don't ask, "can I...."; ask, "what can I do to make this situation work for all of us?"


Using a slow feed net over a tub to which is it attached won't stop them from chewing holes but would be less of a safety issue. I speak from experience on that one having had a horse get entangled in a low hung net then flip in a tight space. Getting them out was no walk in the park.



Hanging objects present different dangers but a sturdy toy hung with a non edible attachment that is then attached to something that cannot break when pulled at/on or rough hosed with. It could be that in addition to the horse eating the twine that the attachment point is also an issue.
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post #10 of 26 Old 09-10-2019, 02:28 PM
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If they won't let you hang a net, how about one of the slow-feed hay feeders made of heavy duty plastic with the grate rather than net? Then at least she'd be able to 'graze' most of the day rather than hanging out with nothing to do. Ulcers are less a sign of boredom than they are stress and anxiety. Only being fed a few times a day can cause/contribute to them. A horse that is kept alone and only fed 2-3x per day with nothing to eat in between is a top candidate for ulcers.



The best thing for her, even if you add a feeder, would be a friend. A pony or other horse is far more 'enrichment' for a solitary horse than anything you can come up with for them to play with.
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