White and black horse running through field

Horse enrichment activities

There are lots of ways to encourage your horse to use their mind and senses, and enrich their environment to prevent boredom or frustration.

Horses can become bored and frustrated, especially when their exercise or interactions with other horses are limited. They're often at their happiest when they're roaming and grazing with friends. They should also feel safe and comfortable resting and sleeping with their herd.

Your horse might not be able to exhibit these normal behaviours if they're stabled or on restrictive grazing. But there's lots you can do to enrich your horse's environment and help improve their wellbeing.

Indoor enrichment for your horse

Scratching mats

An old broom head or a scratching mat can help horses to relieve that unreachable itch – this also helps to reduce stress. Both a scratching mat or broom head can be nailed to the stable wall or a suitable sturdy post.

Music or reading

Playing music or reading to your horse can provide interesting new sounds for them and an opportunity for companionship and bonding. Studies have shown that classical music can even lower their heart rate.


If your horse is motivated by food, you can get creative with their favourite foods by:

  • wrapping non-poisonous plants, such as cow parsley or willow, around the bars of the stable or hanging it from the ceiling so that they can nibble away
  • hiding fruit and veg in the stable, which is a great way to keep horses busy and introduce them to a variety of flavours and textures. There are many horse friendly foods such as banana, beetroot, watermelon, cucumber or celery. Remember, some might be high in sugars so are not suitable for laminatics or those on a restricted diet.
  • using treat balls with small amounts of chopped up feed to encourage horses to use their bodies and their brains
  • creating a forage box using an old cardboard box, filling it with hay and tasty treats that they can dig to find. These can be full of new tastes and smells to enjoy.
  • feeding them herbs, like mint and parsley, or plants such as dandelions and stinging nettles that are fragrant and tasty. Horses often enjoy picking out the ones that appeal to them most.
Plants in stable
Wrapping plants – such as this blackberry branch – around the bars of the stable can give your horse something new to forage.


Companionship is important to horses. If your horse spends time indoors, you can help them socialise with these tips.

Provide opportunities to interact

You can provide horses with opportunities to groom and socialise with one another by using lower stable doors (where safe to do so), or creating enough space for your horse to reach companions over the stable. This can help them sleep better, which helps to improve their physical and mental wellbeing.

Provide an acrylic stable mirror

Fixing a horse-safe acrylic mirror to the stable can give the illusion that another horse is there. Many horses enjoy exploring the image of their own reflection, which can be a huge mental stimulation for them.

Outdoor enrichment for your horse

Enrichment doesn’t have to be restricted to the stable or a smaller area. There are some simple things you can do to add a bit of variety and fun into your horse’s life outdoors too.


Keep your horse entertained outdoors by using food to get them exploring different areas. This can include:

Spreading forage

Place hay or oat straw in lots of small handful size piles around your horse’s field. This encourages them to move around more, helps hay to last longer and reduces your poached areas in the field.

In-hand walking

Take your horse for a walk and let them graze new pastures. The mix of different grasses and herbs will give them a bit of variety in their diet.

Using natural resources

Place branches from non-poisonous trees, such as birch or willow, in their field. Horse’s enjoy chewing the bark and can also use them to scratch on. Putting something different in the field can often spark curiosity and gives horses the opportunity to explore something new.

To add more long term enrichment, you can also plant horse friendly herbs (such as nettles and dandelions) to add some variety in your horse’s grazing.


Using the right grazing system can help you to naturally enrich your horse’s grazing and keep them active.


Keeping your horse fit and healthy when they’re outdoors can be made fun. Here are some tips to help get you started.


Why not spend some time with your horse doing something different? Grab some tasty treats and encourage them to do some gentle stretching, such as bending their neck and head to the left and right, up and down.


If your horse is motivated by rewards, you can try clicker training. Once you and your horse are familiar with a clicker, start with something simple such as teaching them to target an object. Target training can provide mental stimulation but is also useful for introducing your horse to new situations (such as loading into a trailer).


Horses love play balls that they can kick around and pick up with their mouths to throw. This gives them an outlet for excess energy if they are in a playful mood. You can also provide them with a treat ball filled with chopped up feed in the field.

Like in the stable, you can also attach scratching mats or broom heads to a strong post. This gives your horse an opportunity to relieve an itch and interact with something new.


Test out different grooming brushes on your horse and see which ones they like best. Find the spots that get their top lip curling – this helps build a bond and releases feel good hormones for you both.

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• 25 January 2024

Next review

• 25 January 2027

Approved by
Ruth Court

Horse Welfare Manager