It’s super-important your fave pony’s checked at least three times a day – once in the morning, once at lunchtime and again in the evening. He relies on you to make sure all his needs are met, especially when he’s stabled. Once a day you’ll need to…
- fully muck out his stable, ensuring his bed is clean, dry and deep enough for him to lie down comfortably
- refill his water buckets with fresh, clean water
- run your hands over him to check for injuries
- give him a thorough groom
- take him outside to ride or stretch his legs
During your other checks, it’s important to…
- fill his haynets, making sure he has enough to eat until your next check
- pick out his feet
- check his water is clean and refill it if needed
- feel under his rug to make sure he’s the right temperature – read on to find out how
TOP TIP – if your pony needs to be stabled during the winter, it’s important that he has a regular exercise routine to help use up his energy and discourage stereotypies, such as weaving, from developing.
As ponies are naturally meant to graze constantly throughout the day, it’s important to make sure he has enough forage while he’s stabled. If he’s a speedy eater, you can slow him down by double-netting or splitting the hay into several smaller haynets around his stable.
Hay can be dusty, which can irritate your pony’s respiratory system. If it causes him a problem, consider switching to haylage or soaking his hay for 10 minutes to reduce the dust content without losing any nutrition.
TOP TIP – you can check how dusty your hay is by shaking a full haynet outside in sunlight – you’ll be able to see all the dust spores coming off it. If it irritates your throat and makes you cough, it’ll irritate your pony’s, too.
In the wild, ponies are selective grazers, which means they pick and choose which plants and areas of grass they graze. This gives them a mix of vitamins and minerals, and makes sure they get everything they need.
So, when your pony’s kept in his stable, it’s really important to help him get all the nutrients he needs to stay healthy. A general-purpose supplement or balancer is the best way to do this. You could provide him with a mineral lick in his stable, too.
It’s easy for ponies to become bored in stables, as their movement is limited and they can’t interact with other ponies. To help prevent boredom, there are a few things you can try, including…
- providing him with a stable toy to play with – there are loads of variations and some include treats or licks, so there’s something for every pony to enjoy
- turning him out for a few hours a day – either in a field, pen or arena – to let him stretch his legs and have a play
- making sure he can always see at least one other pony from his stable so he doesn’t feel lonely
- hiding carrots or other veg in his hay and around his stable for him to find
- grazing him in-hand so he can get out of his stable and munch on some grass
TOP TIP – If your stable-kept pony’s elderly or stiff, it’s a good idea to take him for a short walk in-hand every day to help keep him feeling comfortable.
Rugging for the job
Stables are normally warmer than out in a field, but they can be draughty. Plus, your pony isn’t able to move around as much to keep warm, so it can be easy for him to get cold.
To feel how warm he is, place your hand at the base of his ears or under his rug between his front legs. He should feel a cosy body temperature. If he feels cold or warm and sticky, you’ll need to change his rug. It’s best to use breathable rugs, as these help prevent him overheating.