The perfect gift for your horse may be a little bit of pampering. OK, we know you already pamper your horse with good food, a great stall and lots of treats, but these are some extra ways to make him/her feel extra special.
Photo Credit: Eventing Connect
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 long turnout in the arena can be just as relaxing. If your barn is as busy as mine, you may have to come at an odd hour to get access but it's worth it. Once you turn your horse out, don’t just abandon him and go about your business. Spend time with him. You can even play games with him – the favorite of my older horse Wizard was our game of “wild horse and coyote” with me being the coyote. I’d pretend to sneak up on him and he’d run and kick and snort and then stop and wait for my next “attack.” Needless to say, don’t play this game if your horse really believes you ARE a coyote.
You can also take your horse to a place to graze by hand-walking around your barn or on a nearby trail. It’s a great way for both of you to relax, enjoy nature and the changing seasons while also getting some exercise.
For extra relaxation, get your horse a massage by a trained equine massage therapist. While much of what a massage therapist does can be to help with injury or with muscle tightness, a general, 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 her to do. If you can’t afford a massage therapist, 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. Though I’m not trained as a massage specialist, I do find that it’s best to go in one direction and then return in the opposite direction on each part you massage. Click on this link to see a brief video on “jostling.” http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=g7TJoNI-A_s
For a warm and delicious treat, consider making him a bran mash at the end of his “spa day.” While the occasional bran mash won’t hurt your horse, giving them too frequently can sometimes cause issues. Make sure to check with your vet if you want to make a bran mash apart 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)
1. Place all the ingredients in the feed bucket.
2. Pour on enough hot water to just cover the ingredients. Mix everything together.
3. Cover the top of the bucket with a towel and let it steam until cool enough to eat, but still warm.
4. Remove the towel and mix everything together.
If the mix seems too dry, you can add additional water. Keep in mind that if your bran mash is on the “soupy side” this can help your horse receive extra water, further preventing dehydration.