In-stable entertainment systems

Firstly, oops! The shawl post that I’d scheduled wasn’t supposed to go out in the middle of lame week. I had it scheduled before Drifter hurt himself and tried to stop it going out but it went out anyway. So if anyone was confused by my posting without mentioning whether my broken pony is doing OK, that’s the explanation. But it seems at least some of you liked the shawl anyway 🙂

Drifter is now the proud wearer of egg-bar shoes


and he looks forward to his dinner even more now that it has bute in it. He’s a bit better than he was, which can’t be a bad sign, but other than that there’s not much going on.

So we needed some boredom busters.

We have the traditional favourite of a swede (with a hole through it) tied from the rafters. I began by tying the string over the beam. This he mistrusted slightly and gave it a wide berth at first. After some fiddling around I attached the swede. He continued to avoid standing under it but otherwise ignored it. As I didn’t want him to avoid standing in the middle of his stable (although it was quite amusing seeing him picking his way around the edge of the stable) I needed to make it more attractive. A couple of broken polo mints shoved down the hole in the middle of the swede alongside the string did that job very efficiently, and he was hooked on trying to get his teeth into it. He quickly worked out that he needed to watch out for the backswing too!wpid-20150611_171545.jpg

The next entertainment system required less encouragement from me – an apple was popped into his water bucket and there we are – apple bobbing. With his dislike of water I didn’t know whether he’d enjoy this or not but he got into it right away. He couldn’t get the apple but that was what I wanted to happen – play, not eating. I assumed that as the night wore on and he drank the water at some point he’d be able to pin it and eat it, probably at a point when he’d emptied his haynet, when a snack would be very welcome!wpid-20150611_171626.jpg

He already has a salt lick that he ignores. I don’t want to introduce a sugary lick because he would just spend all day eating it and while he wouldn’t be bored, I don’t really want him eating sweets all day. I don’t mind him having treats, but I fear he’d get through a Likit a day which is neither healthy nor cheap!

So then I got to thinking of his sense of smell. I have a part-time colleague here who, in her other part-time job, uses essential oils for enrichment for zoo animals. I took a little advice from her and tried offering him various oils to sniff. I (and my colleague) expected to see a Flehmen response to some of the oils he liked, but no, that did not happen. The reactions he did give were: walking away (dislike), no response (indifference), or licking my arm. I have interpreted that the oils that made him start licking my arm when he smelled them were probably ones he liked. I got a spray bottle of water and put a drop or two of the ones he “chose” into it and gave it a good shake. I sprayed it on the rafters of his stable because I wanted somewhere he wasn’t likely to lick. I’m sure watered down like that the oils wouldn’t do him harm even if he did lick them, but better safe than sorry. And then I gave myself a little spray with it because it smelled rather nice 🙂

Other plans I have for his entertainment include bringing some twiggy hawthorn branches, and scattering dried lavender around the stable, but I’m not throwing all my ideas at him at once because then he’ll get bored with them all at once. Do you have any ideas for how to entertain a horse on box rest?


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