Keep your horse stimulated and entertained, whether in the stable or in the pasture, with some of our DIY toys for horses. We’ve put together a guide to homemade toys that will enrich your horse’s life to prevent stable vices and destructive behavior that often results from stall boredom.
Making your own horse toys will keep your horse happy, and it’s also a wonderful way to interact with your horse. These toys are as much fun to make as they are to play with.
In this guide, we take a look at some creative ideas that require only your imagination, and items that you already have around the home.
You don’t have to rely on store-bought horse toys like Jolly Balls or expensive specialized horse toys. You can make your own, simply and cheaply. If you have kids, rope them in and turn this into a fun-filled family activity. Here are some great ideas for horse toys, to get you started.
7 Horse Toys You Can Make By Yourself
Knotted Rope Toy
Take a length of thick rope that your horse won’t be able to chew through, and tie several knots into it. Your horses will spend hours trying to undo the knots. You’ll just have to re-do the knots regularly and change the rope once it shows signs of wear and tear, to prevent your horse from eating it.
Equine Volleyball Toy
A Jolly Ball is a very popular horse toy, and your horse will have a great time playing with it. But you can entertain your horse with an old ball you have at home, too. Hang it from a tree and watch how your horse has hours of fun playing with his new toy, just like he would with a busy ball or a Jolly Ball.
An alternative version of the above idea would be to poke holes in the ball and wedge a carrot or similar treat in each hole, so that the treats protrude from the ball, enticing your horse to remove them. There is no such thing as a horse who doesn’t like a carrot, so you won’t struggle to get yours to play with this toy.
Top up with more carrots or other treats as needed, and stall boredom will be a thing of the past. It’s always a clever idea to combine food with your homemade toy, as this will keep your horse’s brain active and mouth busy at the same time.
Squeaky Rope Mobile Toy
Take a thick, durable rope and braid it. Make a ball with several knots at the end. Rescue an old squeaky toy that is no longer played with (but first remove plastic parts and any sharp components), and introduce it into the thick rope braid. Make sure that it fits snugly, and you’ve made a great toy your horse will love.
Hang one, or a few, of these squeaky rope toys up so that your horse can just reach the ends. Every time he tugs on the rope he will be intrigued by the squeaks. Many horses enjoy this kind of sensory stimulation and will play all day listening to the squeaky toy.
Net Ball For Horses
Hang up an old beach ball in a hay net, just as you would hang a slow-feeding hay net in the stable. Your horse will have lots of fun playing with it.
But please be sure to hang it up high enough, so that your horse doesn’t get its hooves or legs tangled.
Tug-A-Treat Milk Jugs
Many horse owners resort to the tried and trusted old milk jug treat-dispenser. Punch a couple of holes in the sides at the top, and place some small treats inside. Hang it up in your horse’s stall to keep him entertained. This is a good toy to hang from a tree for outdoor playtime, too.
Alternatively, punch slightly bigger holes all over and fill them with edible treats like carrots, that your horse will happily spend time attempting to remove.
String up some fresh produce and you have a simple, no-fuss, eco-friendly toy. Your horse will be rewarded in two ways: it’s something to play with and includes yummy fruity and veggies to eat. This can be as simple as coring apples and stringing them up or mixing things up with a variety of produce.
Make sure that your horse’s fruity funtime is safe, by only using produce that is safe for your horse to consume. If you’re unsure what these are, check our list of safe and unsafe options below.
Why Do Horses Need Toys?
A stall is not a natural environment for a horse, and spending long periods of time there can cause distress and stall boredom. In some cases, it can also lead to severe behavioral problems.
As many horse owners know, a bored horse will often develop stable vices such as cribbing, pacing, and weaving. A simple homemade toy can help prevent this, as it will keep your horse mentally stimulated.
How To Relieve Boredom In Horses
In the wintertime, horses will start to spend more time in the stable. Bust boredom and keep your horse busy for hours with a fun, homemade stall toy. Any horse loves having a toy or two to play with, whether they are cooped up in a stable, or out in the pasture or paddock.
To prevent loneliness, allow your horses to socialize. Watching all the horses (and the people too for that matter) on your ranch or farm will make a difference to your horse’s quality of life. But if you have only one horse or socialization isn’t always feasible, toys and horse treats will brighten their day.
Materials You’ll Need
You don’t have to spend a lot of money on fancy, specialized toys. You can make them yourself, and your horse will love to play with them just as much as the store-bought kind.
Use items that you have lying about in your house, barn, or shed. Making your own horse toys is a fun way to reuse, repurpose and recycle items such as old balls and soft toys, rope, and empty milk jugs or ice-cream containers.
You should already have some or all of these materials available, but if you need to invest in some rope to make any of the rope toys suggested, use good quality, durable rope that is thick enough to stop your horse from chewing it up.
Which Produce Is Safe For Your Horse?
Any toy that includes food of some kind will be popular with horses. But you need to be sure that you include only those foods that are safe for your horse to ingest.
DO NOT feed your horse any of the following vegetables, nor should you include them in edible treat toys, as they will be harmful to your horse.
- Cabbage, Broccoli, Cauliflower Rhubarb, Onion Potato, Tomato
- Also, refrain from giving your horse acorns, and fruit with pips in. Fruit pips are a no-no.
DO feel free to give your horse the following:
- Bean Sprouts, Zucchini, Squash, Green Beans, Lettuce, Peas, Celery, Sweet Potato Greens, Beet Greens, Parsnip, Turnip, Mango, Dates, Bananas, Citrus Fruits, Melon, Watermelon, Avocado, Sunflower Seeds, Honey, Guava, Grape, Cherries, Nectarines, Peaches, Plums, Raspberries, Blackberries, Blueberries, Strawberries, Pears.
Remember to remove all pips, and cut up larger fruits as they may present a choking hazard.
Home-Made Horse Toy Inspiration
If you would like to attempt making some toys for your horse to play with, but need further guidance, we’ve got you covered.
Homemade Horse Toys by Elizabeth Barret will inspire you to make boredom-busting toys that your horse will love.
Want more in-depth knowledge about equine enrichment? Then take a look at Safe Equine Enrichment by Amanda Goble.