Why do horses need toys?
It is fair to assume that, for most people, the word “toys” is associated with two groups in particular: young children, and household pets. It is less likely that someone would associate the idea of toys with horses - but toys for horses absolutely do exist and can in fact serve a variety of purposes. Horses need toys for similar reasons to why young children and household pets need toys: to alleviate boredom, provide entertainment, and offer mental stimulation.
When are toys for horses used?
Most commonly, horse toys are used when a horse is in their stable - which makes sense, when you consider the general lack of entertainment or stimulation options that are available to a horse when stabled. Without other horses to play with or the sights and sounds of a field to keep them entertained, alert and engaged, boredom can develop - which can, in the worst case scenarios, result in the development of vices.
Toys for horses can therefore be used to guard against the issues related to stabling, as well as generally boosting happiness and enjoyment.
Due to the strong association between toys for horses and use in stables, you may often see toys specifically referred to as “stable toys”. However, that’s not to say that toys can only be used in a stable - toys can also be used during transportation, or even when turned out. There are no restrictions, so you are completely free to go with whatever works for you and your horse.
What kind of stable toys are available?
There are several different horse toys available for you and your horse to try, with the options generally able to be separated into two categories. The first category is balls: could your horse be the equine equivalent of Lionel Messi? Find out with an exciting ball that many horses love to kick around and play with for hours on end.
The second category focuses on an old, established idea. The concept of encouraging animals to use their ingenuity in order to obtain a delicious snack has long been a staple of toy design, so it’s no surprise that many horses for toys also incorporate the same thinking. Whether it’s retrieving a carrot from a dangling ball or licking a toy that is flavoured with options such as apple, banana, cherry, or many more, food-related toys can be a great entertainment choice.
How can I choose a stable toy for my horse?
There is always an element of guesswork involved in choosing a toy for any animal - unfortunately, they cannot tell us what they would like from the options available. Due to this, a little experimentation may be required: you may find that the first toy you try is an instant hit and you soon can’t imagine life without it, or you may need to try a few options before you find the ideal toy for your particular horse.
You may also find that your horse prefers different toys for different occasions. For example, a ball toy might not be their preference in a stable but is a source for hours of delight when used in a paddock - or vice versa. Every horse has their own unique preferences, so it’s definitely worth taking the time to see what suits your companion specifically.
Toys are a fantastic choice for any horse, providing valuable stimulation - and a sense of fun! - to their stable environment.