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The Buzz on Enrichment

Come and learn how to spice up your pets life! Follow The Buzz on Enrichment for great DIY enrichment for the animals in your world. 

 

Filtering by Tag: horse

The Right Stuff(ed)

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When you read the title of this post, Im going to need you to think of New Kids on the Block. The Right Stuff, get it? Stuffed animal? OK then. 

Stall rest isn't fun for anyone involved, but make it a baby on stall rest and it's the worst. Two upsides to foals on stall rest. 1) Mom can keep them company (because misery loves company) and 2) Babies are a tad more receptive to new weird things. 

Manipulating things orally is what horses do as a part of their natural behavioral repertoire so, why not give them things that you don't mind being manipulated? Playing with a toy is a much better alternative to dismantling your automatic waterers or worse, developing a habit like weaving or cribbing. Preventing abnormal behavior is often easier than reducing them once they've become established. 

This little dude was interested in the rope that I hung his banana pony pop from, so I made sure to find a durable dog toy with a rope tail. A rope toy probably would have worked but thats not nearly as fun.  Every time I went into his stall the stuffed toy was in the shavings, so I would just pick him up and stick him somewhere new. Elf on a shelf style. Novelty of the environment is another great way to enrich their worlds. 

Handsome kid, isn't he? 

Catering to an animals natural behaviors and helping them solicit them is a great way to keep a healthy mind and body. Just because playing with stuffed animals isn't seen in horses who are kept on pasture, doesn't mean the behaviors displayed aren't the same. Oral manipulation to explore the environment is seen while turned out, and can be duplicated on stall-rest too. 

 

Double the Fun

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There is a LOT of literature out right now that talk about the benefits of slow feeders for horses, Im talking: 

Reducing the possibility of gastric ulcers

Reducing the likelihood of colic

Reducing anxiety related to feeding time

Reducing undesirable behaviors

Reducing the length of this blog

Those are quite a few common problems being decreased just by mimicing the horses natural grazing patterns. Duh, right?

horse enrichment

 

There are also A LOT of slow feeding products on the market now, giving horse owners a few choices. The Porta-Grazer is exactly what it sounds like it is, a portable slow feeder for your ponies. This is a larger "furniture" item, becoming a fixture in your stall or pasture. Another cool option is the Hay Pillow. The Hay Pillow is a feed bag that is safe enough to toss on the ground and has a small footprint for those who need the space. 

BUT. If you jump right into slow feeding your horse after they have been free grazing for years, then the potential for stress is pretty high and stress is what were trying to avoid. 

I am going to show you how to introduce your horse to the idea of slow feeding,. If you make it too hard, too fast you are going to have a pissed off and stressed out steed on your hands. Say hello to gastric ulcers if you jump in too quick! 

All you'll need is:

  • 1 hay net with large holes

  • 1 hay net with small holes

horse enrichment

 

If your horse isn't accustomed to hay bags, that's a great place to start. Feeding out of a hay bag with large holes gets them used to the game but makes it easy enough to keep stress at bay.

Next, bring out a second hay net with smaller holes. By doubling the nets, we've introduced the concepts of:

Working a tad harder for breakfast AND  

Taking a bit longer to be satiated

...over time this is going to help them adapt mentally and physically to this new feeding routine.

horse enrichment

After the horses are accustomed to eating from the doubled hay bag...THEN go nuts and find the slow feeder that fits your barn, your horse and your lifestyle. 

 

 

 

Banana Pony Pops

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If you have a horse than you know about Likit toys and inserts. They have a huge variety of products that make finding one for your stabling situation and your horse pretty easy. One of their products, the Tongue Twister even supposedly has research showing it decreases cribbing. I shot them an email asking for the original data, because if the 27% decrease in cribbing is reliable, then that is badass! 

horse enrichment

Lickit has a bunch of flavors including the himalayan salt lick (which is my fave) but sometimes you just want something different. Or, maybe just I do? Whatever. Anyways, My ponies LOVE bananas and I wanted a cool treat for the AZ summer so frozen bananas was a perfect match. 

For this toy filler all you need is:

  • mold from a previously bought filler

  • bananas

  • oats and barley

  • bowl and masher

horse enrichment

It only takes a couple minutes to prepare. I used 3 bananas and a couple handfuls of oats and barley.

horse enrichment

Once its all good and mashed just scoop it into the mold. 

horse enrichment

and freeze. 

horse enrichment

I quick dunk in the water bucket loosens it up, pop it out, slip it on the toy of your choice and BAM! Pony Pop IN YO FACE! 

horse enrichment

They're messy as they melt, so if your pony isn't used to popsicles I would hang this over their feeder. 

horse enrichment

Or do what I did and just clean up after...

 

 

*Everyone has 2 cents to add about dietary needs for animals. This isn't intended to be a nutritional staple, just a treat so alter how you see fit!