Hopefully your horse has been on Santa's nice list this year. Finding a gift for the horse who has “everything” can sometimes be a challenge. But here’s a suggestion – the perfect gift for your horse may be a little bit of pampering. We know you already pamper your horse with good food, a great Classic Equine stall (wink wink) and lots of treats, but here are some extra ways to make your horse feel extra special.
If you don’t already, let him enjoy a nice long turnout. Outside with grass to graze on would be ideal, but often difficult to find in the winter. However, a turnout in the arena can be just as relaxing. Once you turn your horse out, don’t just abandon him and go about your business. Spend time with him just hanging out, getting in touch with your own “inner horse.” It may be chilly out, but your horse will appreciate your company.
You can also take your horse grazing by handwalking your horse around your barn or on a nearby trail. It’s a great way for both of you to relax and enjoy nature, fresh air and the changing seasons.
For extra relaxation, get your horse a massage by a trained equine massage therapist. While much of what the massage therapist does can be to help with an injury or with muscle tightness, a gentle and overall massage can be just what your horse needs. Be sure to tell the massage therapist if there are any problems with your horse and what exactly you’d like them to do.
If you can’t afford a professional massage, you can do some gentle massaging yourself. Stay away from the muscles on his back and legs and concentrate on his neck. Many horses carry tension there. Start at the top of the crest of the main and place your hands next to each other with your 4 fingers on one side of the crest and your thumb on the other. Gently rock that small section of your horse’s neck back and forth. After a few rocks, move down a bit on the crest. When you get to the bottom, move back up again.
For a warm and wonderful treat for your horse, consider making him a bran mash at the end of his “spa day.” While the occasional bran mash won’t hurt your horse, keep in mind that giving them too frequently can sometimes cause issues so check with your vet if you want to make a bran mash part of your horse’s daily routine.
Basic Bran Mash:
6 cups of COB (COB is a mixture of corn, oats and barley, sometimes mixed with molasses) OR use your horse’s regular feed
1-1/2 cups bran
1 apple cut in quarters or smaller
3 carrots cut into small pieces
½ cup of molasses (if your COB already has molasses, you can skip this or add less)
Hot water (this works best when made with hot water and then allowed to cool)
Place all the ingredients in a feed bucket. Pour enough hot water to cover all the ingredients. Mix everything together. Cover the top of the bucket with a towel and let steam until cool enough to eat, but still warm. Remove the towel and mix everything together. If the mix seems to dry, you can add additional water and mix again. Keeping your bran mash on the “soupy side” will help get extra water into your horse and help keep him from being dehydrated.
Other healthy treats include: apples, carrots, hay cubes, and sugar cubes etc.
Finish up your horse’s “spa” day” with a pat or a kiss before you leave and he’ll have wonderful dreams of you.
Happy Holidays to you both!