Stress isn’t healthy for horse or human. Stress in your horse can result in anxiousness, and can cause physical symptoms such as ulcers and colic. Here are six ways that you can help to reduce your horse’s stress at home.
Provide Continuous Access to Hay
Horses are grazers by nature, and the availability of hay throughout the day can help to distract and reassure your horse. When horses are bored, they can become stressed, and the stress of waiting for his next meal to come can make a horse anxious.
Provide your horse with continuous access to hay throughout the day and night. Consider using a small hole hay net or other feeder designed to slow your horse’s hay intake so that it more closely simulates grazing.
Keep Other Horses Nearby
Horses are social creatures, and in the wild their safety depends on the presence of a herd. You can give your horse that same security at home by keeping multiple horses in your barn and by turning your horse out in a group.
Provide Lots of Turnout Time
Horses who are kept in stalls for large portions of their lives can quickly develop stress-related behaviors, such as cribbing or weaving. Make it a point to provide your horse with lots of turnout time every day. Being able to move about and explore his surroundings is good for your horse’s health, and it also relieves boredom and stress.
Establish a Schedule
Many horses tend to thrive on a consistent schedule. Establishing a schedule creates a situation where your horse knows what to expect during his day. Consider what times you feed, turn out, groom, ride, and bring in your horse, and makes these events part of his daily schedule. You can always vary the schedule some, but having the main events of his day stay consistent can help to relieve your horse’s stress.
Keep Things Quiet
Some horses become stressed when there’s lots of activity or noise around them. If you’re boarding your horse in a highly active barn with a big lesson program, the amount of activity may be stressing him. Relocating your horse to a quieter barn can help to reduce his stress.
Reduce Grain Intake
Feeding your horse more grain than he needs can lead to excess energy, which then becomes stress in some horses. Try reducing your horse’s grain intake, or changing him over to a grain with less protein for less overall energy.
Keeping your horse’s stress under control can lead to your horse being happier and healthier.