The Busy Buddy is a multi-function tool that is perfect for mouthy, bored, or nervous horses. First conceived as a pacifier for horses, the Busy Buddy gives orally fixated horses something to chew on while also encouraging horse stress relief in those that may be tense. 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.
Read more about how the Busy Buddy works in Horse Licking and Chewing: Busy Buddy for Relaxation.
Busy Buddy Trial
At the end of 2020, 10 horses and owners determined to possibly benefit from the use of the Busy Buddy were gifted a Busy Buddy and asked to test it out over the course of a month. Participants were asked to try it for their next farrier or vet appointment, normal grooming in the cross ties, warm up on the lunge line, and/or for use while riding. They provided feedback on their experience, focusing on changes in specific behaviors indicating boredom and nervousness as well as their overall disposition. Specifically:
- Ear position
- Tightness in face
- Tension in body or neck
- Swishing tails
- Resting hooves
After several weeks of use, participants were asked to fill out a survey prompting for the horse’s unwanted behaviors and any changes made by the use of the Busy Buddy.
Before the Trial
Prior to the trial, the most common unwanted behaviors exhibited by participants were:
- 7 out of 10: tension in body and neck
- 6 out of 10: pawing, nervousness, tightness in the eyes and face
- 5 out of 10: grabbing at the lead rope, cross ties, or reins
- 3 out of 10: inability to stand still
- 2 out of 10: biting
Based on participant’s self-reported evaluation, it was found that:
- 8 out of 10 horses were more relaxed while using the Busy Buddy
- 8 out of 10 horses had a more relaxed body position
- 6 out of 10 had an increase in relaxation of eyes, lips, or nostrils,
- 6 out of 10 had lowered head position
- 6 out of 10 had no escalation of behavior
- 3 out of 10 had decreased body movement and better ability to stand still
- 2 out of 10 were less mouthy
9 out of 10 reported they would continue to use the Busy Buddy on the reported horse
The Busy Buddy is an effective relaxation tool for horses and can help to encourage your horse to relax and improve their behaviors in a variety of situations without having to use supplements, medications, or techniques such as twitching.
The horses selected for this trial can be generally classified as either a (1) nervous horse or (2) impatient/bored horse. For the nervous horses, it seems use of the Busy Buddy can be most effective when put on prior to encountering a stressful stimulus due to its success at keeping horses from escalating behavior. For the impatient or bored horses, it served as an effective distraction to chew on or even a sensory distraction to focus on.
Read more about participant’s experiences using the Busy Buddy for nervous horses here, and impatient horses here.