Why do horses dig holes?

We’ve had torrential rain for the past two days. A non-stop down-pour that has turned the land into a quagmire and our drive-way into a muddy river. I decided to leave Minnie and Cassie in the yard today. At least they would be able to go into the stables or the shelter if they wanted to get out of the rain. Or so I thought. They didn’t though. When I came home from work in the afternoon, they were both saturated, with muck plastered up to their ears. And they had dug up the yard.

My yard consists of a base of compacted hardcore with a 3 to 4 inch layer of pea-gravel on top. It works great, it drains the water really well, the pea-gravel is a good surface for my horses’ bare feet and it doesn’t get slippery in snow and frost. Both horses like to roll in it too. I have to rake it about once a week to keep it level, but I don’t mind that, concrete yards need to be swept.

I needed to do a bit more than raking to restore the yard. The place looked as if a family of giant moles had gone on a rampage. There were several large pits, down to the hardcore and in places even this had been dug up. Several wheelbarrow loads of gravel had been deposited on the concrete path in front of the stables and tackroom. I couldn’t believe my eyes. “That must have been you”, I said accusingly to Cassie, because Cassie can’t even go for a roll without digging a hole first. I could swear she smirked at me. But Minnie showed me that Cassie wasn’t solely responsible for the damage.

Meanwhile, Cassie had walked over to the hayshed and looked longingly at the hay and then at me, so I gave both of them a flake and then got the wheelbarrow and a shovel for some restoration work.

Both my horses need to move and they hate being confined. Even though the yard and the field behind it is nearly an acre, it’s not enough. If I don’t electrify the entrance, Cassie will just let herself out. I wonder did they dig holes out of frustration because they couldn’t leave the yard? Or are they now so bored with the winter and the lack of activity that they are creating their own entertainment? Or is it because I had so little time for them this week and they are seeking more attention?

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