Pasture enrichment is important for maintaining a safe and playful environment where miniature horses can thrive. The most effective way to accomplish this is by using games, toys, and creative ideas to bring your pasture to life.
Proper stimulation and enrichment are vital for your miniature horse’s physical and mental health. The average pasture horse only receives 1-4 hours of stimulation daily from a human. Pasture enrichment games and toys can keep your pony entertained all day.
It can be time-consuming and exhausting to come up with new ideas to play with your furry friend. This article is going to give a list and description of pasture enrichment ideas for your miniature horse. From bouncing balls to a pool noodle obstacle there are many great ideas you can use to keep your pony happy and healthy!
What do mini horses like to play with?
First, let’s start with discussing toys for your miniature horse. Toys are a great tool because they allow your horse to play in the pasture while you are away. This is unlike stimulating games and exercises for which you should be present. There are many toy options for your miniature horse to play with:
- Treat toys
Many of these toys can be found at your local pet store or online. They are typically affordable and make a great addition to your horse’s pasture!
Rope toys are fun for your horse because you can attach many things to them such as treats or salt licks. These toys can be placed in hard-to-reach places that make your horse work to get to it. Some horses use ropes to play tug of war with their owners.
These toys help keep not only the horse active but also the owners. If you are interested in purchasing a rope toy, then consider this highly rated salt lick on Amazon. Salt licks contain many minerals that are healthy for your miniature horse, including potassium, magnesium, and iron.
Manufacturers make specialized scented horse balls that alleviate your horse’s boredom. Some horse balls come with handles for them to grab, others are scented like apples. Some horses enjoy rolling the ball around the pasture or even playing with the ball and their owner.
You can find ball toys for horses on Amazon, including this 10″ Jolly Ball that you can give to your horse to play with. Alternatively, you could also use an exercise ball instead if you have one.
Treat toys are toys in which you can put treats in them. If you get a toy in the shape of a ball, your horse will get exercise while getting to eat a tasty treat in the end! Other treat toys could be ropes with granola or salt attached to them. Anything attached to a rope can swing around and entertain your horse.
If you want a tricky treat toy dispenser that will get your horse thinking, then consider getting this hay ball on Amazon. Not only did the customers love this item, but the horses did too.
Games for your Miniature Horse
Games not only aid your horse physically and mentally but also build a bond between you and your horse. Games can be fun, easy, and affordable ways to stimulate your horse! There are a variety of games you can play with your horse:
- Training exercises
- Obstacle courses
Training exercises are great for bonding with your horse and enriching their brains. For miniature horses training such as lunging and Parelli are wonderful options for your horse regimen. A lunge line is used to teach your horse to follow you or to exercise them. This can aid in teaching them basic commands such as walk, trot, canter, and halt.
You can teach your horses tricks similar to how you teach dogs tricks! In the horse industry, this is called Parelli. Lots of treats, praises, and affection help your horse with learning each trick. You can teach them to bow, follow you, rear, neigh, smile, hug, kiss, along with many other tricks!
Obstacle courses are a fun way to get your horse’s brain working. There are many tools you can use to build your course, and many of the items can be found around your barn or at a local store!
If you already have built horse jumps, those can be included. If not, do not worry! There are plenty of other things you can use! Barrels are a great option for your horse to jump over or push around. Pool noodles are great for desensitising. You can connect streamers or pool noodles to PVC pipes and use it as a walkthrough waterfall.
A bridge can be made out of a large wooden plank for your horse to walk over. One can take two posts and form a barrier out of rope to make a gate for your horse to figure out how to open and get through (with your help). I would suggest not teaching them how to open their actual gate because that can be problematic.
Plastic tarps are great for your horse to walk over and desensitise them to scary sounds and footing. Traffic cones can be used for your horse to weave in and out of. This not only trains your horse but allows them to enrich their mind and their bodies.
Other Enrichments for your Miniature Horse
This category falls somewhat outside of toys and games. Other enrichments are beneficial to your horses as well and do not require you to be present for your horse to participate in. These enrichments typically take some time and money to build but provide lots of fun for your miniature horse! Enrichment in this section includes:
- Water complex
- Horse Mazes
- Slow feeders
A water complex can be as complicated as you want to make it. Either way, water is a fun tool for enriching your horse. Most horses love to take a swim on a hot afternoon and adding a water complex allows for horse and trainer bonding because you guys can go swimming together.
If you wish to spruce up your water complex, add agility obstacles to it. Spend the time bonding with your ponies and teaching them to jump water jumps and other obstacles. Pool Noodles make a great desensitising tool and they are safe for the horse!
If you do not have space or money to create an entire water complex, consider putting a sprinkler on a timer in your pasture. This allows your pony to cool down on hot summer days and potentially play in the spraying water!
A horse maze is exactly what it sounds like, a maze for your horse. You can build this yourself with simple construction materials and fencing. A maze forces your pony to think and problem solve. It also gives them physical exercise by making them move their feet.
Start by taking your fencing and building a maze throughout your pasture. This does not have to be intricate, you can make it as big or small as you want. The freedom to create makes this pasture enrichment fun for both the horse and human. Once your maze is built, put something enticing at the end. This could be anything from treats to their dinner or hay.
Once they figure out the maze a few times, change it up and put the food in another location of the maze. If you place something at multiple ends of the maze, then the horse will have to walk all over the pasture and receive plenty of exercises! Make sure you are changing the exercise now and then so that your horse does not get bored.
Slow feeders are a great addition to your pasture not only because they keep your pony from overeating but they keep them entertained. There are many types of slow feeders from ones that hold hay, grain, or even treats that are bound to entertain your horse while you are out.
These feeders are perfect for keeping your ponies interested. You can buy an already made one or make your own. Start by taking a plastic box and cut holes in the lid roughly 2 inches by 4 inches but this depends on the type of food you will put in there. This size works best for slow-feeding hay to your horse.
Once created, place it in the pasture and watch the magic happen! As a general rule of thumb, do not put treats in a slow feeder unless they are low sugar and low calorie so that you do not accidentally overfeed your pony treats.
Pasture enrichment is important for keeping your miniature horses healthy mentally and physically. There are many toys, games, and ideas you can use to turn your pasture into an exciting place for your horses.
If you want to take your pasture to the next level, then think about adding some new toys and playing some fun games in your pasture to strengthen the bonds between you and your horses!