40 Ways to Show Your Horse You Love Him

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We all have different ways to show our horses we love them, whether it’s supplying them with their favorite treats, scratching their favorite itchy spots or simply sitting quietly with them while they munch on their hay. But there’s more than one way to spoil a horse! Read on for some ideas of other ways you can pamper your favorite four-legged friend.

Love Your Horse
  1. Shower him with kisses—unless he tries to bite you! Then pats on the neck are nice.
  2. If your horse isn’t really digging the arena lately, take him on a leisurely trail ride.
  3. Scratch his favorite itches without him having to maneuver himself in the cross-ties to have you hit the right spot. You already know where they are, no need to make him beg!
  4. If it’s cold outside and you have hot water in the barn, give him a super-scrubby spa bath. Winter itchies can be brutal.
  5. Condition his tail with a leave-in conditioner. Added bonus if it smells nice.
  6. Buy a massage tool or super-nubby curry and spend some time giving him a thorough once-over on his major muscle groups. Watch your horse’s response to make sure he’s finding it enjoyable.
  7. Keep a journal to track your progress together. Include daily rides, lessons, and any ongoing health issues.
  8. Buy his favorite treats in bulk so you never run out.
  9. When it’s hot, bring him in to stand in front of a fan while you groom him. He may get so spoiled he’ll prefer being inside to out.
  10. Wash his brushes so you’re using squeaky-clean tools to groom him.
  11. Go for a trip that doesn’t involve horse showing or a lesson. Haul over to a friend’s arena or a local park and have a hack around, no pressure added.
  12. Assuming he minds his manners, scratch your horse’s head when you take off his bridle. Sweat under the brow and nose bands can get itchy. Use a towel for extra drying power.
  13. Make him an extra-special treat of beet pulp or a bran mash, topped with cut carrots or apples on top. The slurping sound he’ll make as he gets every last drop is priceless!
  14. If you garden, save a space to plant a row of carrots for your favorite four-legged friend. It’s added entertainment to see him crunch the carrot, then reel in the green tops like spaghetti.
  15. Visit the apple orchard in the fall to see if they have any “seconds.” These apples are just as tasty and your horse doesn’t care if they have blemishes.
  16. Add some sweet treat like maple syrup to your horse’s water bucket to encourage him to drink well (and be spoiled) year round. Always be sure to leave out a bucket of fresh water with nothing added as well, just in case he doesn’t like it.
  17. If you’d like to see what else your horse might like to snack on from the cookie aisle, taste-test some more unusual treats. Ginger snaps, apple-flavored fruit-in-the-middle cookies and rosemary-flavored crackers are hits for some horses.
  18. Schedule a chiropractic, massage or acupuncture appointment—for your horse.
  19. Make homemade horse treats. This is a great project to do with friends when the weather is too cold or wet to ride. (Find a video on how to make Oatmeal Carrot Crunchies here.)
  20. If your horse doesn’t get to spend much time outside, give him some extra turnout time. It’s even better if he can enjoy it with his best buddies.
  21. Just be. Spending time with your horse not doing anything in particular will do wonders for your partnership.
  22. Investigate natural horsemanship or clicker training and give it a try. Especially handy when the weather is bad or your horse is on layup, it’s a great way to keep his brain engaged and bond with him while he’s bored.
  23. Get a stall toy that dispenses treats to keep him company when you’re not there.
  24. Be a hands-on horsekeeper. Do a daily once-over, feeling legs for any swelling, checking under blankets and picking feet. Even if he is boarded, clean your horse’s stall every now and then so you know what’s normal for your horse’s habits. Become familiar with your horse’s vital signs.
  25. Keep up with the horse laundry. Wash his saddle pads and polo wraps regularly so they’re always clean and soft against his skin.
  26. Clean his halter really well so there’s no dirt trapped on it to irritate the area behind his ears.
  27. Strip his stall and put in fluffy new bedding—he won’t be able to resist having a roll.
  28. Hand-graze your horse on the best grass on the farm (this is also a great time to take awesome, artsy Instagram pics of him, too!).
  29. Paint his feet with a protective hoof conditioner and keep up with those regular “pedicures” from your favorite farrier.
  30. Talk to him. Horses respond positively to both touch and sound—never underestimate the power of a soothing tone.
  31. Make him a fancy name plate to go on his stall or halter. Although your horse can’t read, it’s one more way to show everyone he’s loved.
  32. Liniment his legs and give him a good rubdown, feeling for any lumps, bumps or heat.
  33. If allowed, give your horse an extra flake of hay while you’re at the barn. Listen to him munching and sighing in contentment.
  34. Let your horse have a nice gallop outside if he’s feeling good. Work shouldn’t always feel like work.
  35. Use your nails to scratch the base of his mane and top of his tail, where he can’t reach well.
  36. Turn him out (especially right after that scrubby bath!) and let him roll in the muddiest puddle he can find. You know you’re the only one who wants him to stay clean, right?
  37. Book a riding clinic to help you improve your technique for more pleasant and effective rides.
  38. Schedule some time with a saddle fitter to be sure your tack is as comfy for him as it can be.
  39. After a hard workout, incorporate aromatherapy into his bath. Try one of the feel-good herbal or botanical-infused shampoos or rinses specifically made for horses.
  40. Tell him how very much you love him.

Sarah E. Coleman is a freelance writer based in Kentucky. She has a penchant for chestnut OTTBs, and competes in the hunters.


This article originally appeared in the February 2016 issue of Horse Illustrated magazine. Click here to subscribe!

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