Last winter I was on a yard that had no winter turnout. With an enormous youngster this was difficult.
I bought lots of different products to try to keep him amused for when I couldn't be there to exercise him or have him out of his stable.
Being bored in the stable can lead to some undesirable habits such as wind sucking, cribbing, box walking and weaving. My boy did seem to box walk and would trash his whole bed, costing me a fortune in bedding every day. The solution was to find things to keep him occupied in the stable.
Treat balls are a great toy for slowing down 'bolters' (horses who rush their feed) making overweight horses work for their food, whilst making the food last longer, and keeping horses entertained whilst they're in the stable.
Everybody at that yard had a Likit Snack A Ball. On looking at the alternatives on the market and this one, the Snack A Ball was by far the most expensive I found. Working on the idea that this would mean it would be sturdier and last longer with my enormous horse who loved to play, I went and bought the Snack A Ball.
The ball comes in either red or purple with a cost varying from £26 to £34, I managed to grab a purple one at the cost of £28 from a tack shop near me.
The ball comes with a spare lid, it would have been nice if it came with a small bag of treats for that price. But I'm not complaining.
Filling the ball is relatively easy, you just put the treats in the hole where the lid unscrews. If using a dry feed pellets, and doing it by a scoop it is best to fill it over the feed bin as you will get overspill.
Once filled, the lid then slots in and is turned to lock it in place. Once it is filled be sure to turn it around so the hole is kept at the top, otherwise it will leak treats.
I gave my horse his treat ball in evening alongside his feed and haynets. He loves toys and actually chose to ignore his dinner to play with the ball.
He picked up what to do immediately and was rolling it all over the stable, although rather dangerously. I had to jump out of the way of a flying ball a few times.
The ball held up well whilst I watched and it got thrown/kicked/nudged against the stable walls, so I left him to it overnight.
Unfortunately when I went up in the morning the lid was missing, and he had obviously been picking the ball up where the lid goes, as the area the lid slots into was mashed up and bent out of shape.
I couldn't find the old lid, but thought perhaps I had not put it in properly. So putting the spare one in (with a struggle as the slots were so ruined), I gave him the ball back. Within 20minutes he had the lid off and had ruined the spare lid and damaged the hole even more.
Whilst I love the ball, the system inside means treats are released more slowly than alternatives on the market. The design of the lid etc makes it easily destroyed. After the price I paid I would have hoped the ball could have lasted longer than a night and half an hour!
The ball does work well for some horses, but with mine and others who pick up where the lid is it just does not work.
My one horse is incredibly greedy and has a tendency to gain weight very easily. Due to my pregnancy this year he didn't get as much exercise as he used to and by late spring I noticed that I had started piling on the pounds as his girth wasn't doing up as much as it was and his rugs were a little tight on their usual fastenings. This summer I decided to put him on restricted grazing and within a few days I could see him getting bored and a little frustrated with the lack of grass. Even having a companion didn't really do the job. After doing a little googling for horse toys I came across the Likit Snack a Ball which seemed like something which was worth a try.
Likit items are made by a company based in Scotland. They produce items which are innovative and fun designed purposely for our furry friends. Namely horses and dogs. Their product range has expanded throughout the last couple of years and the products are available nationwide.
The Likit Snack a Ball is made from an incredibly tough and durable plastic which comes in a screw on lid and holes drilled around the ball. The purpose of the Snack a Ball is to fill it with dry feed or treats and the horse will roll it around either the stable or field to get the treats out. This will hopefully keep them occupied and ensure they don't get bored. The Snack a Ball helps to encourage natural grazing behaviour which is essential for a horse's digestion.
For my horse this was used in the field and I filled it with his diet ration of his dry feed (which was just pony nuts which are essentially dried grass!). I occasionally put a few minty type treats in it as these give off a nice aroma which I found encouraged him a lot more to use the Snack a Ball.
When I first put this in his field he simply ignored it completely until I took it over to him and let him sniff it. As soon as he could smell the mint he was instantly interested in what it was. I put it on the floor and rolled it around until a few of the pony nuts came out which he was pleased to see and eat. I repeated this a few times until he realised what was happening and started pushing it around with his nose. The first time he used it in the field it kept him occupied for a good few hours on and off which was great as he wasn't bored and he got his daily ration of feed just over a longer period of time which for a horse needing to lose weight was great.
During the summer I didn't use the Snack a Ball everyday as I didn't want him getting used to it and eventually leaving it. But when I did use it I didn't put the same feed in every time. Apart from his daily ration of pony nuts I sometimes cut up small pieces of carrot, parsnip, apple and swede (cut up small enough to fit through the holes) so each time he had it in the field he got something different out of it which did keep him amused. Also by using the Snack a Ball it encouraged him to stretch from his poll (top of his head) to his tail.
This for me was a great buy as it kept him occupied for sometime and it is incredibly durable as I did notice that he was kicking it around the paddock and also trying to bite it. So apart from the teeth marks and the scuffing it really is a tough product which will no doubt he used again next summer! If need be and one of my horses was on box rest (confined to the stable only) I would consider using the Snack a Ball as again this is definitely a boredom breaker and it gives the horse something to do. It is also easily cleaned. You just simply need to use a hosepipe (or submerge it in water) put it through the main hope (where the top screws in) rinse it and then hang it upside down to dry and that is it!
The Likit Snack a Ball is available in either rred or purple/ lilac and costs around £20.00 which I think is a reasonable price. It is available both online and equestrian stores/ feed merchants. For me this is an invaluable product as it keeps my horse occupied and stress free. He manages to get his daily feed over a long period of time which is great for his digestion as he can bolt at his feed.
Definitely a recommendation from me and my horse! Tough, durable and interesting my horse enjoys it and it keeps him occupied for hours!