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Have you ever wanted to make some DIY horse toys yourself? There are some super easy ones that you can create at home, which will keep your horse engaged, active, and happy when there isn’t much to keep its mind busy.
1. Milk Jug Treat Dispenser
If you’re looking for a clever and inventive way to use up your milk jugs, turning them into a horse toy is the best option. You can have endless fun with this, and your horse will have endless fun getting the treats back out once you hang it up in their field.
This should keep their brains busy for hours, so what do you do?
You have quite a lot of options, but if your horse loves carrots, let’s start there. Make some small holes in the edges of the jug, so that your horse can only just get at the treats inside, and then add some carrot chunks to the jug.
Your horse will have to work out how to tease the carrot pieces out, and this should occupy it nicely for several hours, especially if you make it challenging.
To begin with, you could make the holes slightly larger, and then get a new jug and increase the difficulty level.
See which engages your horse the most and use that!
If you don’t want to base the game solely on food, HorseAndMan recommends filling the jug with rocks, so that it makes an interesting noise, or colored water to attract the horse’s attention. However, you may find that your horse isn’t interested if there is no food reward for its work, so this may not satisfy it.
Make sure that you tie the milk jug up very firmly, or your horse may simply rip it down and shake it until it gets its treats out. You need a good attachment point if it’s going to stand up to a horse’s tugging and tussling.
This is probably the most popular DIY horse toy there is, but what other options are out there?
2. Hay Net Beach Ball
If your horse is a fan of balls, this toy is definitely for you. It’s also a good way to encourage your horse to get used to items overhead and give it a bit more confidence.
All you need is a hay net, a beach ball, and some very strong rope. You can also use a basketball if that’s easier.
Put the ball inside the hay net, and then suspend it above the horse. You need to look at the height carefully because you want it within reach of the horse’s head, but you don’t want the horse to potentially snag its hooves in the net.
It can be a bit of a balancing act to get this right, but if you work at it, you will get there. It’s a good idea to keep a close eye on your horses for a few days after rigging one of these up, to make sure there are no accidents with caught hooves.
That said, most horses love this toy! They will spend hours headbutting and jostling it, watching it bounce, and doing it all over again.
Some people achieve the same effect by hanging up a tether ball at the right height, and this reduces the risk of your horse getting caught in it, which is obviously a benefit. The horse can still have great fun nudging and headbutting the ball.
This is definitely worth a go, especially if your horse is bored in its stable, where there are overhead rafters you can suspend the ball from. Get it at the right height, and your horse has hours of fun awaiting it.
It’s also good exercise! SparklesRainbowsAndUnicorns shows a similar idea, but in their version, they also put treats into the hay net, alongside the ball.
This might encourage your horse to engage with the item and play properly, but make sure there is no risk of them getting tangled in the net while trying to eat the treat.
3. Hanging Carrot Or Salt Lick
Most of the time, when horse owners offer their horses treats, they jam the treat somewhere so that it’s easy for the horse to eat it. Treat toys generally do the absolute opposite.
This is because a treat toy is designed to keep the horse engaged and challenge them. They are also designed to last so that the entertainment of the treat is maintained.
That’s why hanging a treat, instead of putting it in a bucket or bag, is an ideal way to turn it into a DIY toy for your horse. This is particularly good for stalled horses, which may be bored standing inside their stable all day, and unable to roam or forage in the field.
There are many different reasons a horse may need to be stalled, but if yours is, you should definitely consider suspended treats as a means of keeping it occupied. You can buy these, but it’s easy to make your own DIY version as long as you have some strong rope and a nail to suspend it from.
Simply attach the treat to the rope. If you choose something like a carrot, you will need to bore a hole through it. Swedes work in a similar way.
A salt lick, you may be able to attach using its container.
Once the treat is attached, hang it from the ceiling, so that it swings freely. When the horse approaches and tries to eat it, the treat will swing away, and the horse will have to follow it.
This provides hours of fun and really makes a treat last well because the horse cannot just crunch it up. Instead of five seconds, a carrot might last five hours.
Of course, sometimes your horse will manage to bite it in the right place and simply get it down, but you can always put another up there for it to play with.
HorseAndMan suggests a similar but somewhat more complicated approach with the fruit and veggie kabob. Again, you drill holes through fruits and vegetables and suspend them from a string.
Your horse can munch away, picking and choosing from the different flavors and textures on offer. Any bits that fall, it can simply have fun cleaning up from the floor later, so there’s no problem if some fruits don’t stay on for very long.
Make sure you are using horse-safe fruits and vegetables, and don’t overfeed your horse on treats, especially if it is in its stall a lot and not getting much exercise. While you might love watching it have fun with a vegetable kabob, its weight and health are very important to bear in mind.
Most of its diet should come from hay!
4. Lightweight Ball
You may have heard of Jolly Balls, but they aren’t cheap and many people report that they get popped pretty quickly. If you are prepared for that kind of sacrifice, why not try a cheap beach ball instead?
To engage your horse, put the ball inside a bag with a few treats and a few holes, and watch your horse toss and nudge the ball around the field as it tries to get the treats out.
You can experiment with different treats to see what works well and encourages your horse to play, but make sure that the holes are big enough for the treats to come out.
Don’t leave a popped ball in your horse’s field, as the horse might try to eat it. This is good fun for a horse who has space outdoors, but it isn’t the most environmentally friendly DIY toy.
5. Cardboard Box Challenge
A super simple option, if you have a reasonably large cardboard box, try adding some chopped-up treats to it, and then taping it shut firmly. It’s best to use paper tape so that you don’t end up with shredded plastic in the horse’s field.
Toss the box into the field and watch as your horse investigates it. It helps to use treats that have a strong scent so your horse will know there is food inside.
The horse should soon be throwing the box around, standing on it, pulling at it, and eventually tearing it open to get its reward. With a tough box, this can represent hours of fun and engagement!
DIY horse toys are easy to make at home, and you can get as inventive as you like. Just make sure that you are using safe ingredients for any toy that you make, and don’t give your horse items that could choke it or harm it if swallowed.
Fruits and vegetables are good options but stay away from small plastic items or string that might be eaten. Make sure you have secured any items that your horse could get tangled up in, such as hay nets, and keep an eye on any new toys you have added to make sure they are proving safe!