Your horse’s happiness matters a lot. Horses can’t communicate and some people may ask “well how do you know what makes a horse happy?” You can have the same question about human babies who can’t communicate, and assume that every piece of information on the subject is a complete assumption, or, you can read on and learn from experience and observation. We are going to leave out the obvious points like feeding appropriately, plenty of fresh drinking water, making slow changes to diet, daily exercise, vet and farrier care, and grooming, and focus on less-obvious things a horse owner must do to keep his or her horse happy.
A horse takes his routine as seriously as a senior resident takes a routine. They feel comfort, order, control, and peace of mind, which is home to them. Feed him, brush him, train him, take him out for a walk, ride him, let him eat grass, give him interaction time with other horses or other animals and repeat the order next day. It’s important to spend time with your horse and get to know him- all horses have different personalities and figuring yours out will give you great insight on what makes him happy and at what time of day!
Horses are not loners by nature. When a horse shows signs of being a loner he is probably going through something like feeling ill or feeling rejected by other horses. Make sure your horse has friends, and not only human friends. Other horses in his life are ideal, but if that’s not the case get some cats or chickens around for your horse to look at. Horses need stimulation; they are social and adventurous by nature. If you can switch up the scenery of their walks or the “friends” that surround them, they will be very happy campers.
If you house your horse in a barn consider the benefits of a stall guard instead of a traditional door. Let other animals share the barn with him, and let plenty of light and airflow through the space.
Just like humans, these intelligent animals strive when they have a sense of purpose. An untrained horse may lack focus as a product of feeling scattered and non-useful. We’re not saying they all have to be racehorses or show horses; we refer to appointing a task within their routine so that everyday they feel like they’re valuable. Have your horse take your children for a short ride one by one, or order him to stand in a certain spot and reward him for doing so- these are the types of “tasks” that you should incorporate into their routine.
This point cannot go without mentioning routine again. A horse is a true lover of his routine, so travelling can be very stressful. Invest in a transportation method that will fully cater to his needs and keep you updated with the app throughout the trip (for your own peace of mind!). A quality transportation service such as Equo, can surely minimize the stress factor of travel compared to outdated standard equine transportation companies. There’s space for horse owners to join the trip too, so if your horse suffers from separation anxiety you have the option of going with him. With Equo, pick-ups are arranged according to horse’s schedules and the horses are pampered and checked on constantly throughout the trajectory of the trip. Think of it in terms of comparison between a street held taxi and an Uber Lux SUV. Which one would you pick for the ultimate experience? Ok, so would your horse!
After travel, a show, or a race season, a horse craves downtime. They are very much like humans in the way they need to relax and be themselves after a stressful period. Go back to his routine as soon as he comes back home, but allow him to stray away from too much uproar in the barn or commotion in his routine. Peaceful walks by your side and alone time are just what your horse needs after a lot of action away from home.
We, horse owners, may be attaching human emotions to our horse and going a little far to feel like they’re happy and love us back. However, only good things can come of this, because a horse is an animal that can sense human emotion. The love that you give him and the intention that you pour into making him happy and comfortable does translate into feelings of protection and joy. If you should ever notice changes in your horse’s behavior or sense that he is not happy, do not ignore those thoughts and consult the vet and trainer for further suggestions.