Horses are no different than kids. This time of year, when the weather tends to not lend itself to healthy activities outside, they all get crabby and complain. It’s a common expression used elsewhere, but it still applies; a tired horse is a well-behaved horse. So, what can you do with a bored 1,000 pound animal? A lot as it turns out!
Most tools I’ve come across will work in either indoor or outdoor settings, and come in a variety of sizes and colors to make them as situation-compatible as possible. Back when I had Buddy, who got impatient when it came to feeding time (because we forgot him soooo often, of course! lol), I used a securely fastened O-ring, a trailer tie, and a stall ball to give him something to swat around. When he wasn’t placated with that, he also took to teaching himself how to unfasten double-end snaps (thank you for making it so hard to hang a bucket already) and figuring out how to lift the stall grate off it’s hinges. Those smart horses, they can wear you out!
Thanks to advancements in nearly everything, there are companies dedicated to helping you solve all your horse’s boredom issues, with a variety of “busy” toys for them to wear themselves out on.
Horseman’s Pride gave us the original Jolly Ball, http://www.horsemenspride.com/products/#tour-5, which is still a big seller. They come in a wider variety of materials now, for any type of horse or use. Horseman’s Pride also offers lick toys, pas-a-fiers, and puzzle toys that produce a treat when your horse manipulates it the right way.
The Likit Company is newer to me, http://www.likit.us/treats-toys/ but they’ve developed a line of treat-based toys to keep your horse occupied. Toys like theirs keep your horse’s mind busy and their mouths to help reduce boredom that leads to bad habits like cribbing and chewing of non-treat/toy things (like your fences, stalls, buckets, OTHER horses…).
Shires offers a ball feeder, http://shop.shiresequestrian.com/p/shires-ball-feeder, great for paddock or stall. It can be filled with treats or grain to keep them occupied. Think about these if you’ve got a feed bolter as well to help slow them down.
The best answer is always a good workout with you, but sometimes isn’t an option. Even the most regularly-exercised horses still get bored though, so instead of getting upset every time you have to replace boards or listen to wind-sucking, consider giving them something more productive to do. Horses like to feel needed and busy, even if their primary “job” is as your companion. They don’t have the luxury of smartphones to keep them entertained, or a Netflix account, or even the ability to do a crossword puzzle. Don’t set them up to fail by leaving them alone with nothing to do, try some toys out to see what engages their mind best!