A Look at the Playful Side of Horses
Updated: Nov 13, 2020
While we typically think of horses as constant grazers and maybe even a little lazy, many of our clients are surprised to learn that horses actually love to play! Similar to how other animals in a herd will interact with each other, horses love to play with each other and even with toys, too.
When horses play as a herd, they are not only getting out excess energy, but they are also learning about their environment and about the pecking order the herd has in place. Especially for young horses, socializing with a herd is extremely important to their development skills.
With toys designed for solo play, they can puzzle out solutions and work to get treats, like how dogs do if they are in a crate. Regardless, after observing the horses for a period of time, you will definitely see that “horseplay” is a common term for a reason!
How Horses Show Playfulness
Playing as a Herd When you see our horses out in the field, you might see a flurry of activity as one of the spunkier horses inspires a round of play. Horses love to engage in games such as Nip and Shove, where they will playfully nip and bump each other in a playful manner. You may also see them engage in a lively game of Canter and Chase, which is likely something you have seen dogs do at the park—one spry horse will canter around the group, inspiring everyone else to join in and start chasing them around the field! This is a great way for them to get exercise, and it is quite fun for the humans to watch, too.
Playing Solo or in the Stall When hanging out alone or while confined to their stalls, horses can still exhibit play behaviors—and it is recommended that they have something to do, since excessive stall time can lead to bad habits if horses become bored or restless.
Thankfully, there are so many toy options for horses to keep them busy in their stalls. Jolly Balls are a big hit as they can toss them around for hours, but apple holders, salt licks and puzzle toys are also extremely popular.