Training Science Articles:
What is Clicker Training?
Terminology
The Science Behind Learning
Creating Behavior
Reinforcement
Cues
Eliminating Behavior
Stimulus Control
Building Behavior Chains
The ABCs of horse training
Stimulus Stacking
Dealing with Fear

Putting it into Practice, Ethically:
What is an Aversive?
Over-excited about Food?
Enrichment
Protective Contact
Control vs. Communication
Transition Troubles
Making it a Lifestyle
"Un-ridable"
The Importance of Choice


Enrichment Options


My friend Mary Richards (a previous zoo keeper at Disney's Animal Kingdom) has put together a wonderful list of enrichment options commonly used in a zoo/exotic situations. These have all been vet-approved by a zoological vet, so in general terms they are safe. Though we do advise supervision with all new toys. Remember we want our enrichment to be species appropriate, we want them to become a healthy outlet for natural behaviors that may not be possible in domestic situations. We want our enrichment to build their confidence and curiosity, so we need to be sure not to over-face our individual horse with a toy that is too much for them (yet).

Here we go-

The obvious:

  • Grazing Time out with friends/ co and con specifics (same or different species)

  • hand walking in new areas

  • Grooming, Bathing, Massage, Stretching exercises

Food enrichment:

  • Slow/Puzzle feeders (Apples Pears Bananas Watermelon Carrots Kale Romaine Endive Spinach Escarole Collard greens)

  • Varied feed (fruits, vegetables, forage, browse...)

Scents: Perfume Essential oils Extracts Fresh herbs/dried spices

These can be placed anywhere, really.

Food presentation:

  • Hidden Mixed in with substrate or snow

  • Hang browse from a rope strung across stall or paddock (high enough to avoid entanglement)

Physical:

  • Mirrors

  • Rubbing post (large broom head is great for this- not a sweeping broom, a push broom)

  • Boomer balls, Jolly balls, Mesh spin feeder, Pecca balls 'Rattlers'- 2 liter plastic bottles half filled with rocks or pebbles to roll on the ground, Plastic barrels, Cardboard boxes (some horses have a tendency to ingest cardboard, so don't let them get carried away with it), 5 gallon water bottle- stand alone, hanging, with treats inside and holes drilled in sides

Ice pops/cubes: Water only, with produce/treats, with dilute juice, with electrolytes, with extracts

Auditory: Recorded animal vocalizations, Recorded nature sounds, Music (there is a paper put there that says horses prefer country and classical to rock or pop), wind chimes, singing

Flashlight/laser play- obviously, please do not shine in eyes

An important thing to remember about enrichment is that novelty is key. A ball left in a stall for weeks on end is basically just white noise.