Horse Side Vet Guide ®

Equine Health Resource

Horse Seems Bored

Code Green - Contact Your Vet to Obtain Useful Advice & Resources

Code Green - Contact Your Vet to Obtain Useful Advice & Resources

    Horses look bored to us when they stand quietly with their head in the corner, and maybe resting a leg. Horses may appear bored when they are stabled alone and are not stimulated by work, feed, exercise, or companions. Horses that are bored may be more likely to engage in stall vices like wood chewing and cribbing. A horse that appears bored may in fact be sick and so it is important to pay attention to this sign.


    Assess your horse’s general heath using the Whole Horse Exam (WHE), paying particular attention to attitude and appetite, rectal temperature and heart rate. Try to differentiate between boredom and illness by offering them a small amount of feed, or interacting with the horse.

    If the horse appears well (good attitude and appetite and normal findings on WHE) and they simply appear to be bored, then consider changing the horse’s management. Offer more turnout, exercise, more feed roughage in the form of long-stem hay, and/or increase contact with other horses. Consider investing in a slow-feeding device or pasture toys, which may provide a horse with additional stimulus.

    If you have difficulty determining whether your horse is ill or bored, contact your vet with your findings and concerns.


    Your vet uses a physical exam and diagnostics to determine whether that a horse that appears bored is not actually sick. If the problem is truly boredom, they may discuss management changes to stimulate the horse.

    Author: Doug Thal DVM Dipl. ABVP


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