Home Made Horse Toys! And a few other things…

Monday, April 19th, 2010 | Filed under Handy Tips

I stumbled upon a really cute photo yesterday and it got me thinking about homemade horse toys.

What do you do when you cannot play with your horse yourself?

I don’t know about you, but almost every store bought horse toy I’ve ever purchased has been killed in about a day.  Perhaps that is the point for manufacturers — get the horse/owner hooked and then it breaks!  YAY, buy another!  Hmmmmm.  And, of course, we have all probably bought one toy or another that your horse completely ignored.  I know we purchased one of those big balls for Bodhi.  We had gone to the Horse Expo and watched the video of all of these horses frolicking with the huge ball having a wonderful time.   Sold.  We brought it home, inflated it (that was fun) and put it in his paddock.  OMG.  You’d think we just threw 100 snakes in his pen!  He was so afraid of it we actually had to remove it.  We put it in with the ponies and they popped it.  Oh sure, they had fun for an hour or so, but then it became a plastic pancake.  Actually, they threw that around for a while as well so it wasn’t a total loss.  I’m not saying the balls are bad.  I know tons of horses play with them since photos are all over the internet.  However, they aren’t pony proof —  although most things aren’t.  If you want a ball, here is a link to get one.

I’ve also added a link to a video of horses playing with balls and a horse toy product site here.

Anyway, what I’m getting at is that many of us have our horses cooped up in some way and we often would like to try to entertain them on their off hours.  Instead of buying a toy, why not try to make one?  After all, just about anything you leave on a fence or that flies into their paddock becomes a toy, right?  (We’ve all seen our sweatshirts hung on a  rail become flying, gooey, dirt balls, haven’t we?)  So, I set out to find some clever inventions.


1)  CARROT CONTRAPTION:  The first category is the toy I used for Saturday’s Phoblog post.  Many of you wanted to know how this carrot contraption was constructed.  So I asked.  She said:

“Ok you take a plastic container, like a large cottage cheese container or ice cream bucket, but not too large, take a sharp knife, cut two holes at top for hay twine or small rope, turn container on side and make  ” x ” holes around as many as you want, I did about five or six x’s.   That’s basically it.   Fill it up with treats and hang.   Keeps them busy.   Jackie fills Gabe’s and Topper’s every night. ”

2) THE HONORABLE MILK JUG:  We’ve all done something with a milk jug.  You punch two holes at the sides of the top to hang it in the stall or from a tree (fence…. whatever) and then you fill it with whatever.  Many online toys creators say to fill it with rocks.  Hmmmm.  Sounds real fun.  But, I guess the noise is fun.  Or, fill it with colored water so it sloshes.  Others say to fill it with grain or carrot slices or something edible and then cut tiny holes so the horse works all day at removing the items.

I don’t know about you, but all of my milk jugs have gone unattended or gotten smashed in about an instant. Maybe I don’t tie them up well enough.  In any event, the milk jug toy is the most popular answer on the internet query, bar none.

3)  HIGHWAY CONE.  ’nuff said.  We’ve all seen these.  The problem is that these are hard to make at home.

4)  ROPE TOY:  I kinda like this idea.  If you have a stalled horse, or even just a mouthy horse in a paddock, one online person said to take hearty rope (one that a horse cannot chew through) and tie a few knots into it.  You can double knot it or put knots in a row.   Evidently, the horses will spend hours trying to unknot it.  I didn’t know that.  All you have to do is re-tie it.  And, he’s at it again.  Be sure to change the rope once it shows signs of wear.  You don’t want him ingesting it.

5)  FRUIT AND VEGGIE KABOB:  I love this one!  Get whatever fruit and veggies your horse loves or hasn’t tried yet, and string them up!  I guess this could be messy but cleaning up the mess will give your horse a whole other venue of fun!  (Or, put your goat into the stall afterwards.)  I really like this idea and thought this photo was very cute.  If you want a list of safe fruits and veggies, refer to one of my previous posts which is linked here.  That should help you get started.

6)  BASKETBALL OR BEACH BALL IN HAY NET:  OK, this one is technical.  You have to make SURE you hang it high enough and secure it so that no hooves get caught in the net, yet low enough to play with.  I guess I would watch them for a while to make sure it is all good.  From what I understand, horses really enjoy attacking, playing and headbutting the contraption.  I also understand that it helps a headshy horses get used to things waving around its head.  Sounds fun but you’d have to be careful about how you hang it.  Or, come up with a different kind of net or holding device that won’t trap hooves.  I say why not just use a regular old tether ball and hang it up from the rafters or on a tree limb.

7)  BRAID A ROPE AND ADD A SQUEAKY TOY:  I like this because it sounds like it would really irritate the other horses in a funny way.  You take large rope (someone said it works with twine but I would be afraid that they might eat it?…) and braid the rope.  At the end you can make a ball with several knots.   This should keep them very busy.  However, you can also add a squeaky toy minus all the hurtful parts like plastic eyes or anything sharp.  Make sure the toy has a safe squeaker, too.  Anyway, I hear they really have a hay day with that noisemaker!

8)  COWBELL:  Ugh.  I’m not sure I like this one but several people but bells or jangly things that cannot be eaten onto fences.  Knowing my ponies, they’d be ringing that bell every moment.  Maybe you could tape the ringer part so the sound would be less jarring.  Dunno.  They say noisy things are a real hit.  I bet the stable hands just love those…

9)  TRIPLE HAY NET: (sounds like a strong holding hair spray..) This one works if you already feed your horses with hay nets.  Hay nets scare me because mine always pull them down and get tangled.  I must be a lousy hay net hanger person… Anyway, they say to triple together three hay nets and then stuff it with hay.  Hang it high.  The horse will take all day to eat the hay.

10)  MY FEEBLE IDEAS:  Well, it seems to me that my horses play with anything that flies into their pastures.  It reminds me of that famous Xmas cartoon where you see the shiny red fire truck sitting outside its box and the kid playing inside the box…  My horses play with anything that ends up in their territory.  MINE!  So, I think:

  • grain bags or burlap sacks would be a great toy to toss into their area, or you can tape one in half or in quarters and add some type of treat inside and then throw it in  —  or an old shipping box sealed with tape but housing goodies inside
  • throw in any kind of sturdy barrel or hearty plastic keg (lid preferred so you can put rocks or something in it to make noise)
  • a few old stuffed animals tied together with rope (minus any plastic parts) so they throw well and can be dragged around (get these cheap on Ebay)
  • put a melon or a large grapefruit in there – they love melon and citrus
  • a larger, lightweight beach ball or cheap ball from Target inside a sweet smelling grain bag
  • a sprinkler snake wand thing or mister attachment to your hose (my horses loooove this in the summer)
  • any kind of Russian Nesting Doll type of treat container like a carrot inside a jug inside of a box inside of a feed bag
  • sacrifice your old sweatshirt (or ripped sleezy)  tied up in several sleeve knots — I know my ponies throw mine around all the time
  • bring your bored horse up to the arena and let him watch the other horses being schooled
  • and for those of you with pony minded horses (curious types) – put several upside-down buckets and empty containers with lids in the stall — they will have hours of fun turning them all over and trying to destroy and open them

If you have any suggestions, please let me know!


I thought I would let you know about a preggers mare who is on stall cam watch.  This was the young mare who was rescued from the aggressive stallion a week ago.  Anyway, she is on baby watch and I thought you might like the link to see her and maybe catch her delivery.  The rescue that has her is New Beginnings Animal Refuge, Inc., a 501 (c) 3.


OK, I know this is not related to horses at all except that you will be happier and therefore happier around the horses…  I’m passing this on because I was so thrilled to find it!  You see, my dishes in my dishwasher were not coming out very clean.  I knew I didn’t want to call a plumber so I searched the internet.  I found this solution and I tried it.  Don’t worry, it sounds kinda complex but it was really easy.  In fact, the drain of my dishwasher was right there and I didn’t have to unscrew anything.  Anyway, if your dishes are not cleaning the way they used to, please go to this link and follow the directions.  So Easy and now sparkly clean again!

S’all for today!  Happy Toy Making!

HORSE AND MAN is a blog in growth… if you like this, please pass it around!

HORSE AND MAN is a blog in growth... if you like this, please pass it around!

20 comments have been posted...

  1. Horse Girls

    I will definitely use those around the barn, maybe horse as Christmas presents too!

  2. Jody

    how do I learn all about this incredible bitless bridle from Germany! LG Bitless Bridle- Control with Instant Release when I click on your link it says Sorry, you are not allowed to preview drafts.

  3. Jody

    how do I learn all about this incredible bitless bridle from Germany! LG Bitless Bridle- Control with Instant Release when I click on your link it says Sorry, you are not allowed to preview drafts.

  4. BOBI


  5. Pasatiempo Ranch

    This isn’t “homemade” but they’re cheap and VERY durable. I use a traffic cone as a toy for my horses. They’re big, sturdy, soft enough to bend and not hurt, won’t roll away like balls, and last for years. I found mine at a local traffic supply place for under $20 each. Way cheaper than commercial toys.

  6. Laura K

    Debs- you could take two ping-pong paddles, peel off the rubber, glue them together with gorilla glue. It won’t fit down her throat and being doubled up, it should take a stomping…for a while.

    Good ideas economical ideas and thoughts here. I will be trying some, thanks.

  7. Debs

    My daughter’s horse has a thing for the wooden spoon used to stir the feed. If she can get hold of it, she runs off around the field with it, then drops it and jumps ans stamps on it until it is definitely ‘dead’. I’d love to make a safe version of this, because I’d worry about her getting the spoon jammed in her throat if she runs with it.

  8. Dana Benjamin

    There is absolutely nothing cuter than a horse playing with a ball. We work with clients searching for a horse property in the Kansas City area and love these ideas for housewarming gifts. Thanks for sharing!

  9. yllaria

    Our horses always loved the tether ball we had in their paddock — played with it for hours.

  10. Hailey

    My horse eats really fast when I give him food, so I get an empty milk container and poke holes in the container and fill it with grain. I then tie it up in his stall and he pushes it around shaking the feed out. It is so cute watching him!

  11. Glenys

    When my horse was recovering from an injury, it was summer and hot. I made them giant iceblocks. Used small buckets, chopped up apple and carrot, threw in some rolled oats, then added either water with a dollop of molasses – then froze. Or for a BIG treat I used apple juice. They loved them and it took them ages to start with, working out how to get them out of the bucket. My mare got smart and took to either carrying her’s to ‘safety’ with it’s handle, or kicking it along the ground till the iceblock fell out.

    I have enjoyed your ideas, though when your horses are paddocked it’s hard to find safe spots to tie things up high to. I look forward to seeing others idea’s for things that can be safely left in the paddock.
    Thank you.

  12. Belgian Lady

    Hello, I work at a historical site and we have a few Belgians. We have daily carriage rides so the horses are occupied, but we don’t always use the same pair. I am trying to find a simple toy that would keep the horses occupied, be inexpensive, and also represent the historical ideas of the farm. Any Ideas?? Some of the boys are just flat out bored. I am going to try the rope idea first. thanks!

  13. Greta

    Hi my Sparkie stay sin his stable at night as he gets sweet itch so as you can well guess i like to try and keep his mind off the idea of having a scratch so what my husband done for me i got myself a great big sweed and drilled a hole thew thee middle and threaded some strong rope threw the middle then hung the sweed up either on top or on the side of the wall . This kept his mind off off scratching. so simple and so cheap…

  14. heather

    love your page and your spirit in which you write! will get busy with your great ideas, thanks!!

  15. Grace

    We have had a lot of rain lately and my horses were SOOOOOOOOO bored, so I tried filling a milk bottle with molasses and hung it from a rope, they spend most of their time licking the treat from the little holes that i puncterd, it’s quite funny to watch! =-))

  16. moonlight

    Thank you very much!! Now I can jump into action and start experimenting!! =)

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