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Busy Buddy for the Anxious Horse

The Busy Buddy is the ultimate relaxation tool for horses and can help to encourage your horse to relax in a variety of situations without having to use supplements, medications, or techniques such as twitching. The Busy Buddy helps the horse remain in or return to a parasympathetic state by restoring salivation, chewing/movement of the jaw, and sensory distraction. (See Horse Licking and Chewing: Busy Buddy for Relaxation for more.)

The following horses and owners were gifted a Busy Buddy and asked to test it out over the course of a month. From yearlings to seniors, here’s some of the ways the Busy Buddy was able to help anxious horses.

Beau

Beau head shot 4.3

 

Beau is a 10-year-old TB/Lipizzan gelding that tends to be anxious under saddle and can be tense on the trail. He will pull on the bit, stick his head up like a giraffe, and call to other horses while being ridden. After a particularly spirited trail ride, his owner used the Bridle Busy Buddy on a trail the following day. She put the Bridle Busy Buddy on after tacking up and hit the trails. Beau was relaxed on a loose rein and able to walk quietly with his head down. She continued using the Busy Buddy during her rides when they were alone in the arena. When used in the arena, he remains more focused and does not call out to other horses during their rides alone.

 

 

 

Skippy

Skippy head shot 2

 

 

Skippy is a 25-year-old Appaloosa/TB gelding that was getting agitated and nervous while his owner was body clipping him. After attempting to distract him with treats and some scratches from a helper, she put the Busy Buddy on in an effort to soothe him. With the Busy Buddy on, he instantly relaxed and stood still for the rest of his clip, without correction or need for a second handler.

 

 

 

Dave
Dave trailer head shot crop

 

Dave is a 15-year-old Belgian gelding who has moments where he gets worried and lacks confidence, especially during trailer loading practice. His owner tried the Busy Buddy during one of their loading practices and noticed he was more relaxed and did not escalate his behavior. It is usual for him to spook at least once, but he did not spook at all while wearing the Busy Buddy. He appeared alert but not as wide-eyed. She also noted that he was easily able to eat hay and treats while wearing the Busy Buddy.

 

 

 

Preston
Preston head shot

 

Preston is a perceptive and nervous 26-year-old Bavarian Warmblood gelding that does not appreciate disruption to his routine or being in the more exposed parts of the property. He demonstrates evasive behaviors like trying to untie his lead rope when tied in an unusual place and can get wound up if required to wait. Using the Busy Buddy, Preston is less likely to escalate his behavior and really feels its benefits when it is put on prior to him becoming anxious. His owner will put on the Busy Buddy when Preston is in an unavoidable stressful situation, like waiting for the vet in a worrisome part of the barn.

 

 

 

Using the Busy Buddy for anxious horses can help establish more relaxed patterns and routines to create positive experiences in a low pressure and noninvasive way. As always, the Busy Buddy is a tool to assist with training, not a cure-all to mask your horse’s communication. It can assist with transitions in life and training, easing the load of corrections and high-stress situations. Even though it may look simple, the Busy Buddy is an effective way to encourage relaxation by tapping into your horse’s natural instincts.

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