Domesticated horses live very differently than horses in the wild. In order to give your horse their best life, you need to do what you can to create a comfortable habitat that meets all of these natural needs. Although many of us do not have the land or the resources to perfectly recreate a natural environment, there are still many things we can do to create a healthy habitat where your horse will be safe, happy, and live a comfortable life. As someone who believes in the power of nature, I believe the best place to start is to look at how wild horses live.
How Horses Live In The Wild
In nature, horses are prey animals so they live in herds for protection. They are very social animals and herds can reach up to 25 horses. Herds have a very complex social hierarchy and strong companionship bonds. Their natural environment is semi-arid grasslands, where they spend most of their time grazing and foraging. Wild horses are also nomadic and very active. They will go where there is fresh water to drink and good grass to eat, sometimes up to 40 miles in a single day. Horses also sleep in short bursts throughout the day. In order to achieve truly restful sleep, they need to be able to lie down.
The Importance Of Socialization
The first thing we can take from a wild horses is how much time they spend socializing. Horses rarely, if ever, roam alone. Instead, they spend most of their lives with others. So when thinking about creating the perfect habitat, you need to consider the importance of socialization. Fortunately, domesticated horses can form companionships with other animals like humans, donkeys, and dogs. The best thing to do is to have more than one horse. If you don’t have the ability to keep more than one, you need to make sure that you get them either a companion like another animal or you spend a lot of time with them every single day. Horses can develop both psychological and physical health issues when isolated.
Keep Your Horse Active
Although we all wish we could afford to have a massive amount of land where our horses could run free, that’s not always realistic. However, you can give them everything they need in a smaller space. Horses need roughage, rolling spots, a variety of vegetation, and fresh water. Whether you have an acreage or simply a paddock, make sure to design your space with these needs in mind. To help keep your horse active, you can offer a variety of toys like jolly balls, treat toys, and agility equipment. Most of these can be used not only in the field, but in the stall as well to keep them active and entertained. Also try to provide some for of shelter such as a tree or small canopy where they can get out of the sun or rain when they need to. Also allowing certain plants and wild herbs, such as dandelion and nettle, to grow in the pasture will allow your horse to treat minor stomach issues and other aliments by themselves by foraging on these naturally medicinal plants. I have detailed a few of these in my free e-guide that you can download here.
Create A Comfortable Stall
Domestic horses will spend a lot of time in their stalls, even when you let them out to play in the field. In the wild, horses obviously do not live in stalls. So whether you have a box stall or a loose box, you have to make them as comfortable as possible. First, the stall needs to be large enough so the horse can lie down to sleep and rest. It also needs to be easy for them to enter and exit when you take them out. Secondly, you want to make sure the stall is well ventilated and dry. Finally, you need to keep the stall clean. Horses are very susceptible to illness, especially around their hooves. So cleanliness is important to not just keep them comfortable, but to maintain their health. Clean their stall every day especially in the summer when you need to be extra vigilant about keeping flies and other pests away.
Grooming Is Essential To Provide A Good Habitat For Horse
All horse owners should love grooming because it’s a time to really show your horse how much you care. Grooming provides the following:
- Socialization: Horses consider their human another member of the heard. Grooming is an opportunity for them to get that important social time. It will help keep them happy and healthy.
- Activity: Grooming is a fun activity for both horses and humans when done correctly. Daily grooming offers a fun activity they can look forward to every day. Grooming also keeps them healthy so they can spend their days playing in the pasture and doing activities without pain or stress.
- Routine: Daily grooming offers a routine that can help horses feel secure and safe because they know what is coming. It also helps keep their stall clean, so they can relax.
Grooming isn’t just a fun time, it’s essential to your horse’s physical and mental health.
Monitor Your Horse’s Behavior
Even the best horse owner can find their horse is having difficulties in a domesticated environment. It’s hard to recreate how they live in the wild. We can do our best, but sometimes we all need to make adjustments. You know your horse, your bond is strong, so if something seems off, make some changes. If they seem restless, they are probably bored and need more activities. If they seem nervous or depressed, they may need more socialization time. If they aren’t sleeping or getting sick a lot, it may be time to adjust their stall. Even a simple adjustment can be very enriching.
Helping With Horse Anxiety
Another part about understanding a horse’s nature and creating a good habitat, is to understand that they are naturally prey animals. So as goofy and confident as they can be, they can also be skittish and startle easily. One of the things I’ve found works is aromatherapy. Applied correctly, aromatherapy can help create a natural sense of safety and calm. Show-Thyme Calming Oil was developed to address the anxieties domesticated horses can feel sometimes and help them relax and feel confident naturally. I recommend always having it on hand to help support the best habitat for your horse.
Although we can’t replicate a horse’s natural habitat exactly, there are many things we can do to give them a happy and fulfilling life. By incorporating socialization, fun activities, and natural grooming products, we can create an environment where they can thrive. Just remember, our horses will always communicate with us, so if you notice that your horse isn’t their usual self, you may need to switch up their routine to better meet their needs.