What really makes a horse happy?
Having a happy horse isn’t just about our own peace of mind – it provides tangible benefits. A horse whose basic emotional needs are met will be healthier, safer and easier to handle, quick to learn and will perform better. They will probably require fewer vet visits and generally be a joy to spend time with. So what makes a horse happy? The short answer is having the freedom to be allowed to be a horse – plenty of turnout, equine company, ad-lib food and a safe environment.
We all want the best for our horses, but the reality of keeping horses on livery yards where we don't have much control over their day to day management often means we can't do as much for our horses as we'd like. Many horse owners would love to give their horses more turnout, or have them turned out with a mixed herd, but the livery yard manager won't let them.
Thankfully there are other things you can do to improve your horse's quality of life. Simple things like enriching your horse's environment, turning him out with a friend in the arena if the fields are muddy, or bringing his horse friend to visit his stable for a mutual grooming session if they have to stay in can make a huge difference to your horse's day.
Thank you to Rea Trotman for letting me use her photo – you can read Rea's bitless blog here.