WHAT PRIORITIES SHOULD I ADDRESS TO MAKE MY HORSE’S LIFE BETTER?
N°1: Diet is probably a priority, whatever the case (24/7 access to forage, cereal-free, careful what grass you’re feeding and balance well with right minerals and vitamins). Even boxed, shod horses show amazing results by just adapting their diet.
N°2: Movement. Quite easy to implement if your horse already lives outside. Just move water away from the shelter. Maybe plant some posts with electric tape (even without electricity in) in strategic places: without even fencing all around your pasture, by “closing off” one path, you encourage your horses to use another. Use the already present environment: maybe you already have woods that can facilitate the creation of a small track, or bushes that can naturally create a path?
HOW TO MAKE THEIR LIVES LESS BORING AND MORE COMFY?
N°3: Fun & Comfort. Add interesting things along the way: food, water, rolling area, itching posts, play ground or shelter. If you notice a part of your acreage is unused, try adding appealing stuffs (salt licks or by regularly distributing gourmet surprises like carrots or fruits). When using salt licks, pay attention using salt licks that are molasses free. The easiest and healthiest for horses is to actually offer loose sea salt.
You can also offer different waters: always provide them with fresh plain water, but you can also add buckets with vinegar or clay water.
HOW TO ADD EVEN MORE FUN?
It can be very cheap if you just pass by things and you get creative: a fallen tree on your property or in the vicinity would be a great addition to place in their path (encourage lifting of the legs, good for the back and the belly).
You can even spice things up and save yourself some time on habituation: add bits of security / police cordon here and there, maybe flying plastic bags tied somewhere, a plastic bottle curtain, a tarp path.
That’s really funny to watch them! It creates movement because of the addition of an unknown, potentially dangerous object and they can discover / experience (destroy^^) it in their own time!
The nice thing about setting all this up is to give horses CHOICE.
Maybe you can’t stabilise ALL your paddock: great, they have the choice to use a muddy or mud free path!
They can choose whether and when they want to eat hay, plants, trees or bushes because it’s all available to them.
They can choose which water they need. They can choose what surface they like best to have a scratch.
And so many more options! Frustration is greatly reduced, just by providing them with what we may perceive as “pointless elements”.